Today's trip was planned as a tour of Hedmark county and the targets were Rustic Bunting and Siberian Tit (both lifers) and Ortolan Bunting. Both the Buntings are in serious decline in Norway and Rustic could well be extinct in the next couple of years with Ortolan not lasting much longer.
I did not spend enough time enjoying these fine birds as I was too keen to search for the Rustic Bunting. The sight for these is along the Kynna river. This year a handful of birds have been recorded but it is a very large area. I spent 4 hours searching along the river in suitable habitat but without joy. I did see Redstart, Cuckoo, Pied Fly, Black Grouse, Whinchat, Icterine Warbler, Mistle Thrush, Yellow Wagtail and this Parrot Crossbill.
Animals were represented by a female Elk with a baby and a Roe Deer plus countless Beavers dams along the river. Birding is hard going in this area and birds are quite few and far between but it is a fascinating habitat.
It was already 1230 and I decided that I would cut my losses with the Rustic Bunting and head north for Siberian Tit. The drive was a bit longer than I expected - 3 hours - through wide river valleys and pine forests with occasional lakes and marshes. Along the way were a couple of Cranes, Black Throated Diver, Wigeon, Tufted Ducks, Greenshank and Redshank.
At the Siberian Tit site (which I have visited twice before without luck) I walked around for a couple of hours and saw Willow Tits in 3 sites, a pair of Great Tits, Pied Fly and Redstart but no sign of Siberian Tit or Siberian Jay which I have seen here before. I had a bird calling away in the firest which I did not recognise. I had stuplidly left my ipod in the car so could not check what it was but on returning to car discovered it was a singing Hawk Owl! I decided not to go back to locate it as time was getting on and I had at least four hours drive home. Lesson learned: do not forget ipod in future!!
So the good end to the day? The return trip took me over Ringebufjellet which rises to over 1000m. There was still ice on the lakes and lots of snow and it appeared that birds were only just arriving back with Golden Plovers still in flocks on the lower slopes. On the open water were 4 Velvet Scoters, Wigeon & Tufted Ducks and the highlight: 6 Red-necked Phalaropes:
They gave fantastic views feeding around the edge of a small lake. Also in the area Whimbrel, Redhank, Bluethroat and Lapland Bunting.
Despite missing out on the 2 lifers the day was a fantastic birding trip.