Tuesday 27 February 2024

More Stonechats and geese

There is suddenly lots to see, to photograph and to write about. I have not been to see the Smew again but it has apparently been standing room only with up to 40 photographers filling their memory cards. Having been through the (many) images I took I am rather happy with the ones I got on Saturday so have no need for more.

 On Sunday Jack discovered Oslo’s second Stonechat of the year on Bygdøy and I chose to visit there on Monday and then found the third (a female) and then Anders found the fourth later in the day! Prior to 2021 there had only been 5 records in Oslo but it has been annual since then but 4 in a year is a new record and it isn’t even spring yet!

Bygdøy also gave me very up close and personal views of 16 Purple Sandpipers which appears to be an Oslo high count. I have also added Skylark and Chaffinch to my Oslo year list which now stands at 85 species.

Today Jack and I headed to Østfold and it was a visit that reminded me I should go more often as the 1 hour drive is well worth it. The fields around Kurefjorden were already free of snow and packed with geese and Skylarks. A lot of different geese have been seen here in the last few days including both Beans and both subspecies of White-fronted. Greenland White-front is a species that has eluded me before so I was really hoping to see it but we only found Russian birds but a count of 48 was very good. Taiga Beans also eluded us but we did see 2 Tundras.

Other new birds for the year included Lapwing, Ringed Plover and Shelduck as well as Slavonian Grebe and Scaup.

On the way home we witnessed a new experience with a Great Grey Shrike. I have seen this species hover occasionally before but only for a few seconds at a time but this bird was hovering in Kestrel style and was changing height and position for many tens of seconds at a time. It was hovering over an area if rough grass that was full of vole holes so there was clearly food there for it.

male Smew (lappfiskand)

the pattern at the back of the head changes a lot depending on the mood of the bird

Little and Large

with a male Goldeneye (kvinand)

a female Stonechat (svartstrupe) at Bygdøy

Purple Sandpipers (fjæreplytt)

from today's Østfold trip - a White-fronted Goose (tundragås) on the left with a Tundra Bean Goose (tundrasædgås)

the two Tundra Beans

Russian White-fronted Geese (tundragås) and Greylag Geese (grågås). Three of the adults had such extensive black barring on their bellies that it became solid

hovering Great Grey Shrike (varsler)

when it hovers the wings barely go above the horizontal

hovering head on

And some commoner birds

Stock Dove (skogdue)

Willow Tit (granmeis)

Yellowhammer (gulspurv)

Jay (nøtteskrike)

Mute Swan (knoppsvane)

landing on the ice

finally coming to a stop

This spring seems to be terrible for singing owls in southern Norway but there is at least some activity from Tawny Owl (kattugle) in Maridalen

Saturday 24 February 2024


The last few days (and nights) have seen temperatures just above zero and combined with rain this has resulted in quite a thaw starting. Rivers and streams are suddenly running again and there is flood water forming above the snow many places. There is even the odd patch of bare ground to be seen and with the forecast for the next week to be much of the same we can expect the first migrants to start turning up. Today the first Skylarks, Snow Buntings and Ringed Plovers were recorded although the lark was the only one I was lucky enough to jam in on.

My birding day was very succesful though as I joined a twitch at Østensjøvannet to admire a male Smew (aka the White Nun) at very close range. A male Smew has been seen on and off around the islands off of Oslo this winter and yesterday I was able to see it in the scope from Huk. I had hoped that it would turn up at Østensjøvannet as the spring progressed as this species often turns up there in March. They are always redheads though so an adult male would be something else.

I was definitely not expecting it to turn up this early though. There is only a tiny area of ice free water at the moment which holds a 100 or so bread eating Mallards, 4 Goldeneye, 3 Mute Swans, 1 Coot and the Smew. Views were unsurprisingly good!

I have a lot of photos and video to go through and expect I will have even more if it hangs around a few days so will just post 3 pictures for now.

spot the Smew (lappfiskand)

The White Nun