Thursday, 12 April 2012

Maridalen at its best

I wasn’t actually going to go birding today as I had plenty of other things to be getting on with but when Rune sent me a message to say that he had seen the Black Redstart at Fornebu (whilst I was still in bed) I thought I would pay a quick visit.
Unfortunately it did not reveal itself to me although 2 Wheatears and a Song Thrush were new for the year and 2 Chiffchaffs were my first for the Oslo area. There was also generally more birds in the area: Fieldfares, Meadow Pipits, Linnets, White Wagtails and Wood Pigeons. Could the flood gates be opening and the spring migration about to burst upon us?
Well, on the way home I thought I would give Maridalen 15 minutes. It turned out to be quite a bit longer than that as, indeed, spring migration was really upon us. Driving into the valley I could see that there were flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings in the fields and amongst them a few Mistle Thrushes, a single Song Thrush and scattered Chaffinches. The lake was still 90% frozen but the open areas now had birds on them. 13 Teal, 5 Goosander, 4 Tufted Duck, 29 Goldeneye, 25 Mallard, 4 Canada Geese and surprisingly 3 Shelduck resting on the main island. Also on this island 2 Oystercatchers! and 9 Lapwing resting on the ice. It is not often that there is such a varied selection of wildfowl here. Also many gulls which at one point went into the air as though a raptor (Osprey?) was around. Amongst 500 Common Gulls were about 50 Black-headed.
Four flocks of Pink-footed Geese totalling 400 birds went over in just 20 minutes along with 7 Cormorants and 3 Curlew. I suspect that if I had been able to watch the whole day there would have been many thousands of geese on the move. Also a Black-throated Diver flying over and on the drive home I had another diver in flight from the car but was unable to specifically identify. Perhaps the highlight of the day was a male Merlin first seen perched on top of a tree and then hunting. They really are small birds – when it was perched up it looked like a Fieldfare until I put the bins on it.
Merlin - honestly!

A Kestrel was also seen to round off a great visit.

The next 3 days are devoted to my first meeting of the national Rarities Committee (NSKF). We are having the meeting in a cabin in Finnskogen so hopefully some interesting owls will be heard in the evenings.

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