Monday, 21 August 2017

Adult male Black Redstart in moult

Updates on this blog are becoming less frequent than a rarity in Oslo. There are many reasons for this with the latest being a recurrence of a trapped nerve leaving me a bit immobile but a good dose of anti-inflammatories seems to have helped. I still have little desire to spend time in front of the computer though which I see as a good sign (still in holiday mood) but also means that I have yet to finish going through holiday pictures and videos.

A lunch date today in the city centre with old colleagues (from those distant times when I had an office based career) gave me a chance to look for the Black Redstarts that have bred this year (Norway’s only pair?) and I also had the bazooka with me so was hoping for some good photos. I found the adult male but no youngsters. The male was actively feeding in a small area but I saw no sign that he was collecting food for youngsters in a second or even third brood. He was also in heavy moult and looking very tatty and unmale like. In fact, in many ways he looked like a young bird or female bird with the only give away that he was an adult male being the white wing patch on black flight feathers.  Searching online I haven’t manage to find other pictures in moult but the grey new feathers around the face do seem to agree with the written description of flesh plumage in BWP. The grey (and brown) tips wear off to reveal the black feathering that one sees in spring (worn) plumage.

Adult male Black Redstart (svartrødstjert) in active moult. The bird is aged and sexed due to the white wing patch on the black flight feathers. The gret and brown feathers on the head are new feathers that will wear down to be black 

here it looks like it has a loose secondary feather and is also missing greater coverts 
the brown feathers on the head and breast are very noticeable. Could they also be dirt?

I don't think dirt is the explanation though as here one can see that the different coloured feathers seem to be of different quality
surprisingly he often flew high up into trees

A landscape photo from Årnestangen a damp morning last week with a Marsh Harrier (sivhauk)

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Still in holiday mood

I must admit to still being in summer holiday mood and with additional IKEA unflattening and Jr and Jr Jr to entertain both birding and definitely sitting in front of the PC have taken a (welcome?) back seat. That of course doesn’t mean I haven’t been birding – far from it ;-) Trips to pick mushrooms in Maridalen, the beach at Fornebu and Årnestangen on Saturday morning with Per Christian and today in the early morning have of course given some birds plus butterflies and dragonflies which I am getting increasingly interested in.

The water levels at Årnestangen are quite high and there were no large numbers of waders to see either on Saturday or today. Dunlin are especially scarce with none seen on Sunday and today there were none to start with before 10 eventually appeared (only one adult). There were a few interesting species to find (although I am still to see Curlew Sandpiper or Little Stint this year). On Saturday, we had three adult Grey Plover and today the highlight was a juvenile Black-tailed Godwit which I had hoped to find as there seems to have been a mini influx to Norway the last few days. 2 adult Bar-tailed Godwits, 4 juv Turnstone and an adult Knot (also a late year tick) were also good birds today. Ringed Plovers were the commonest wader with 56 and in total I had 14 species of wader today.

Raptor numbers are starting to build up although no Pallid Harriers have made there way down from the mountains yet. Marsh Harriers have arrived though with at least four different birds: 1(-2) juveniles, a 2cy male, a 3cy+ male and a 2cy+ female. Common Buzzards, Sparrowhawks (3 seen together hunting White Wagtails), Osprey, Peregrine, Hobby and Kestrel completed the list but still no Honey Buzzards.

Passerine migration is only just getting going but today I had a calling flyover Red-throated Pipit which is an early date.

a 2cy+ female Marsh Harrier (sivhauk). The pattern of moult may allow the bird to be more accurately aged as either a 2cy or a 3cy+ but I haven't manged to work it out 

a nice fresh juvenile 
the 2cy male with a Sparrowhawk

same birds. The Marsh Harrier can be aged as a 2cy due to it still have mostly juvenile (brown) secondaries and outer primaries

the juvenile and 2cy+ female interacted
Grey Plovers (tundralo)

Turnstones (steinvender) and Knot (polarsnipe)
the all black legs make this (in my book) a Ruddy Darter (blodrød høstlibelle)
this similar dragonfly with pale hind legs is either a Common Darter (rødbrun høstlibelle) or Vagrant Darter (sørlig høstlibelle) but I don't think the picture allows a certain ID
the yellow inner wings of this small red dragonfly make it easy to ID as a Yellow-winged Darter (gulvinget høstlibelle)
a  mating pair of Black Darters (svart høstlibelle). There are more and more black males to see now
larger dragonflies seem to pose far less readily but I did managed to photo and subsequently ID this Southern Hawker (bågrønn øyenstikker)

mating pair of Common Blues (tiriltungeblåvinge)

High Brown Fritillary (adippeperlemoringe) 
Lesser Marbled Fritillary (engperlemorvinge)

Queen of Spain Fritillary (sølvkåpe)

Silver-washed Fritillary (keiserkåpe)

Large Marsh Grasshopper (sumpgresshopper)

Tuesday, 8 August 2017


Yesterday morning I successfully ignored the IKEA flat pack furniture that needed un-flatting and went up into Maridalen. With no wind and sun I had high hopes of seeing soaring raptors (and finally a Honey Buzzard) and butterflies. This year has been poor for both of these groups but a day like today should be as good as any for them.

Raptors were really hard work and apart from a single hunting Sparrowhawk I had to wait 5!! hours before I finally (and a long time after I had intended to return to the un-flatting) found some soaring raptors when I had a group of three Common Buzzards. These were followed by another Common Buzzard a little later but that was to be it. I have a feeling that something has happened with the larger raptors around Maridalen this year – hopefully it is just a bad breeding season rather than something more sinister.

I fared a better with butterflies. There were not large numbers except for the whites (which I still struggle with) but I ended up with quite a lot of variety although had no blues or hairstreaks. Here are the 15 species I saw:

Queen of Spain Fritillary (solvkåpe)
Silver Washed Fritillary (keiserkåpe)
Lesser Marbled Fritillary (engperlemorvinge)
Dark Green Fritillary (aglajaperlemorvinge)
Red Admiral (admiral)
Small Tortoisehell (neslesommerfugl)
Peacock (dagpåfuglsommerfugl)
Painted Lady (tistelsommerfugl)
Comma (Hvit C)
Ringlet (gullringvinge)
Scare Copper (oransjegullvinge)
Brimstone (sitronsommerfugl)
Green veined White (rapssommerfugl)
Large White (stor kålsommerfugl)
Small White (liten kålsommerfugl)

Queen of Spain Fritillaries seem to have established themselves in Maridalen after an individual I saw last year was the very first to be reported from Oslo in ArtsObservasjoner and I had up to 4 together including mating. I find that this species can vary a lot in size and also in colour on the upperwing and I spent lots of time trying to see the underwing of fritillary butterflies only to be “disappointed” to see the silver spots of this species. I do suspect though that I had at least one other species of fritillary (medium large) in addition to the ones I have recorded.

The copper butterflies were interesting. I was sure that I had seen a couple Small Coppers (ildgullvinge) but the pictures I took show (based on the underwing) that they were actually female Scarce Coppers (oransjegullvinge) of which I also saw the very distinctive males.

I tried my luck with dragonflies and damselflies and identified 3 species of dragonfly – Black Dater (svart høstlibelle), Four-spotted Chaser (firflekklibelle) and Brown Hawker (brun øyenstikker) - and one of damselfly - Common Blue Damselfly (stor blåvannymfe) although there were other species that I never managed to photograph of dragonfly that I didn’t manage to photo (ID in front of the computer is as far as I have come with these species groups). Black Darter remains by far the commonest species with thousands of them and I only saw a handful of large dragons.

What about the non-raptor birds though? On the lake there was an adult and two juvenile Arctic Terns one of which was begging for food. I had a couple of juv Red-backed Shrikes and 2 very fresh and presumably juvenile Marsh Warblers where a male had been singing in the late spring strongly suggesting successful local breeding. The Whooper Swan family is still going strong and I found the remains of the missing youngster although couldn’t make out how it had died. I also had a pair of Cranes and I reckon this species will attempt to nest in not too many years.

More signs of migration were my first returning Meadow Pipits.

I took a ridiculous numbers of photos. Here is jut a selection.


juvenile Red-backed Shrike (tornskate)

an adult and 2 juv Arctic Terns (rødnebbterne)

Cormorants (storskarv and an Arctic Tern)

Cranes (trane) - an unusual summer sighting in Maridalen

flyover Black Woodpecker (svartspett)

all 9 Whooper Swans (sangsvane) 
Willow Warbler (løvsanger)

juvenile Wren (gjerdesmett)
 Butterflies (please inform me of any incorrect IDs:

Comma (Hvit C)
Brimstone (sitronsommerfugl)

Dark Green Fritillary (aglajaperlemorving)

Green-veined White (rapssommerfugl)

Large White (stor kålsommerfugl) I believe
and I believe a Small White (liten kålsommerfugl)

Lesser Marbled Fritillary (engperlemorvinge)

Painted Lady (tistelsommerfugl) - one of 4 I saw

Queen of Spain Fritillary (sølvkåpe)


3 QoSF in mating mood 
note the sexual organ? or egg laying opening? of the bird on the right

and much more visible here

female Scarce Copper (oransjegullvinge) which in the field I mistook for a male Small Copper (ildgullvinge)

Male Scarce Copper

Silver-washed Fritillary (keiserkåpe)


SwF and bumblebee sp

Small Tortoiseshell (nesle sommerfugl)

Brown Hawker (brun øyenstikker)

Common Blue Damselfly (stor Blåvannnymfe) 
Four-spotted Chaser (firflekklibelle)

frog sp - there are two species of frog in Norway and I haven't worked out how to tell them apart..