Thursday, 18 April 2019

Back in business

The last 5 days we have been downhill skiing at Trysil. Birding wise it was dire and in stark contrast to last year when Hawk Owls were a regular sight both from the chair lifts and whilst skiing. On the drive back today I had a quick stop at the floodlands at Starene where there were not so many birds as I had hoped but I did hear a Lapland Bunting.

In the evening we went beast walking in Maridalen. Things have changed so much in the course of a week! With temperatures at 17C all snow has melted although the lake is still frozen. The farmer was also ploughing the favoured stubble fields at Kirkeby so my chance of a Lapland Bunting here this year is probably over. There were a lot of Common Gulls on the field though so Med Gull must be a chance again this spring. My first Wheatear of the year was an expected find. The weather forecast is still for continued high pressure with hardly any clouds let alone rain so birding will continue to be hard work even though we are entering the best period.

Ring Ousel (ringtrost) in Maridalen
Wheatear (steinskvett)

Small Tortoiseshells (neslesommerfugl)

Friday, 12 April 2019

High pressure woes

The high pressure remains firmly planted over Scandinavia, but the winds were much less today. I hoped there would be some raptor movement and spent hours gazing up at a blue sky over Maridalen but all in vain. I had a nice day in the sun and explored many areas but there was even less to see today. Temperatures fell to -5C overnight and everything was frozen over early on which of course doesn’t help.

I had one of the Great Grey Shrikes today and believe now that there have been at least 2 different individuals in the Dale in April. I also had both male and female Merlin.

These 5 Cranes (trane) flew north and the resident pair were on their favoured field

this Great Grey Shrike (varsler) lacks the white feathers in the secondaries (on both sides) that another bird showed on Wednesday so I feel confident we are talking of at least 2 birds (at three sites) this week

male Merlin (dvergfalk)

and female trying to look like a Gyr Falcon

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Snow Buntings

No noticeable change in the bird life today although I did enjoy 3 Snow Buntings on one of the last snow decked fields in Maridalen but these could well have been around for a while. There was less wind today which I hoped would produce some raptor movement but I hoped in vain.

Snow Bunting (snøspurv)

buntings have a very specially shaped lower mandible

The Crane (trane) pair remains faithful to the same field

note the different eye colour which according to BWP is independent of age or sex

a visit to ØStensjøvannet revealed displaying Great Crested Grebes (toppdykker)

Black-headed Gulls (hettemåke) are back on their breeding islands but there are not that many (yet) 
a Canada x Greylag Goose hybrid

Moorhen (sivhøne)

the regularly returning overwintering female Pintail (stjertand) which will presumably be moving on soon (it has been noted pairing with male Mallards) 
male Tufted Duck (toppand). 2 days a bird was photographed here with a "nasal saddle" that I have tracked down to Nantes, France but I could not find it today

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Cold & Dry

The bad birding conditions continue. Northerly winds, frosts, daytime temperatures and fields so dry that there are forest fire warnings really are not conducive for passage.
Yesterday, Anders and I had a particularly unproductive time and when we did finally find some birds to look at in Snekkervika the light and heat haze was so bad we couldn't even decide if we were watching Mallards or Teal...

Today, I just kept it local in the Dale and I couldn't detect any sign of migration other than a thermalling Sparrowhawk that may have been migrating. I again had Great Grey Shrikes in two localities but have yet to work out if there are two birds or not.

a back lit Common Buzzard (musvåk)

Goldcrest (fuglekonge) - this bird sang but has a yellow crown so is I assume a 2cy male. It had been in an intense fight on the ground with another male with a very orange crown

male Kestrel (tårnfalk)

female Starling (stær)

and a male

Great Grey Shrike #1 today

and #2. This bird has very distinctive white secondaries but the secondaries of #1 were always covered by the grey mantle feathers

Monday, 8 April 2019

Spring arriving slowly in the Dalethe

We are having a period of northerly winds and sun which is forecast to continue for a week or so. This type of weather is not really conducive to much migration or falls of birds but of course nothing can completely hold back new arrivals. Despite the fields in Maridalen being very dry flocks of thrushes are appearing and Mistle Thrushes are in record numbers and the most numerous species which must be a first. I saw my first two Ring Ouzels of the year as well today. The pair of Cranes is proving easy to find and Lapwings seem to be established on two fields which is an exciting development as previous years have seen them consolidating to just one field.

this tailless Jackdaw (kaie) looked like a juvenile Bateleur Eagle! I have purposely made the picture darker so the plumage doesn't enlighten things..
Merlin (dvergfalk) - not quite sure of age and sex

the Cranes (trane) have made this field home

Two sightings of Great Grey Shrike (varsler) at different sites but possibly of the same bird

Mistle Thrushes (duetrost) are rarely easy to get a photo of

and these two Ring Ouzels were even more difficult

The Marsh Tit (løvmeis) is still going strong in Maridalen and is the only known individual in Oslo. It was calling a lot today but I have never heard it sing and think it is safe to assume it is a female

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Maridalen Mandarin

Yesterday, Rune and I “did” Nordre Øyeren and Aurskog-Høland. Birding was good although it was a great disappointment that the flodd waters at Kjelle have so rapidly declined and with no rain forecast for at least the next week they will disappear very soon. It was dry everywhere and Lapwings were concentrated around the last remaining areas of flood water rather than on breeding fields. We had good birds with my first Garganey, Hen Harrier and Golden Plover of the year and Taiga Bean Goose, White-tailed Eagle, White-fronted Goose amongst others.

Today I was up late after being (rarely) out yesterday and was not in a fit state to do very much but I joined Mrs OB for a Beast walking trip in Maridalen. Here, I had an enormous surprise with a male Mandarin Duck sitting on the edge of the ice. Although as plastic as they come you cannot tire of seeing such a smart bird and this was a new species for the Dale and not surprisingly it proved popular later on. Thrushes were starting to flock for the first time and a flock of Pink-footed Geese was on the fields as were the two Cranes.

male Mandarin

female Black Woodpecker

and the male - they are using an old hole

Golden Plover (heilo)

male Hen Harrier (myrhauk)

White-fronted Goose (tundragås)