Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Soap on the roads

The storm that had hit southern Norway last night tempted me out to Krokstrand this morning. When I got there having negotiated some extremely icy roads (soapy slippering to translate the norwegian description) I was met by a calm sea and hardly a bird in sight.
View from Krokstrand looking north towards Oslo and the snow covered trees of Nordmarka in the distance

Almost the first thing I did see was at least 2 porpoises/dolphins which broke the water every couple of minutes as they moved south. I assumed they were Harbour Porpoises which are regular in the fjord but on looking at the picture below I see a two-coloured dorsal fin (I believe porpoises have black fins) which is also quite large and wonder whether they may have been Common Dolphins which would be a much rarer species here.
Porpoise or Dolphin?

Looking for birds almost the first bird I saw turned out to be the day's best - a 1st winter Little Gull that seemed to be feeding in the area although later headed purposely south. A couple of Kittiwakes were feeding in the area but it wasn't until a westerly wind (which made viewing uncomfortable) blew up that birds started moving and around 15 Kittiwakes headed south joined eventually by 3 Fulmars. 6 Velvet Scoters were on the sea and 4 Little Auks included this one feeding close inshore.
Little Auk

On the way back to Oslo a Great Grey Shrike sat by the motorway and then I dropped in at Østensjøvannet for some wildfowl year ticks. The lake was nearly completely frozen and in the one patch of open water around 250 Mallard, 70 Coot, a pair of Tufted Ducks, a single Goldeneye, 4 Greylag, 4 Canada and 1 Barnacle Goose were present. Also there a hybrid Canada x Greylag which is ringed and apparantly at least 18 years old. A few Herring Gulls hanging around in a variety of plumages. These 2 adults showed different leg colours with the left hand bird having noticeably pinker legs although the picture doesn't do justice the difference I noted in the field.
Adult Herring Gulls with differing leg colouration (and head streaking)
Also much variation amongst the young Herring Gulls. The rearmost gull in the next picture is, I believe, just a Herring Gull in juvenile plumage although it was noticeably smaller and had me thinking Lesser Black-backed Gull.
1st winter (and 1 2nd winter) Herring Gullswith one much darker bird
An adult male Goshawk spent some time circling over the area but didn't have a go for anything.
Finally a quick drive around Maridalen gave me a few woodland species to add to my year list and as I drove home a small flock of Waxwings flew over the road.


  1. Agree with Herring on the dark one. A lesser black-backed would have had much lighter coloured breast and belly. Also jizz isn't right for a LBBG. LBBG should have been more athletic, more like a bit extreme yellow-legged. You can also compare with a bird from Sweden from today:

  2. Very interesting to read your trip articles and see your pictures.

    Common Dolphins Delphinus delphis are not uncommon to be seen in Norway. I have good pictures of it jumping out of the water, taken in Sognefjorden.

    I am not an expert on gulls, but the plumage variances are material. In this case, size also makes it a normal herring gull imo.

    Best regards Ketil Knudsen