Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Owling by ski

A cloudless sky, no wind, temperatures approaching -10C and a nearly full moon were all I needed to try finding my own owls in the forests close to Oslo. Bouyed on by reports from other observers of Tengmalm's Owls, Per Christian Moan and myself strapped on our skis and set off from Skar in Maridalen at around 8.30pm.
We skied up to Øyungen lake and then across the lake before climbing up to Rottungen lake. We stopped frequently but heard absolutely nothing even though we could see in the moonlight endless pine forest which I had expected to be good habitat. We had decided to turn round at Rottungen after 5km as it was already approaching 10pm. Just as we stopped what did we hear? Yep, you've guessed it: a Tengmalms Owl! Now it wasn't exactly close and I still haven't actually seen one but it was a great feeling to be on skis in the middle of a frozen lake under a star filled sky and listening to my own Tengmalm Owl. Per Christian heard another calling from a different direction so we had 2 in total.
The ski back was downhill so went a lot quicker but also a lot more painfully as I fell 4 times on steep, narrow sections (or at least I found them to be steep and narrow - Per Christian seemed to have no problems). We saw the distinctive tracks of a hare in the snow but few other signs of life.
Driving home through Maridalen we stopped at Låkeberget car park hoping for Tawny Owl and sure enough had one calling at only 15m distance but were unable to see it.

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