Friday, 27 April 2012

Maridalen - does it get better?

Before I talk about Maridalen I'll start with the morning. Strong winds from SSW were forecast today so I thought it was time for my first seawatch of 2012 from Brentetangen in Østfold. I was there at 0625 and the winds were coming from the right direction but unfortunately there was low cloud and drizzle so viewing conditions were not the best (I frequently could not see the Vestfold side of the fjord). I had hoped to see some skuas given the record numbers in Southern England over the last week but unfortunately I didn’t score on that count. There were birds moving though. Until 0945 I had:
799 Common Scoter moving north, 3 Black Guillemot and 3 Long-tailed Ducks moving south, a handful each of Red and Black-throated Divers, 20 odd Velvet Scoters most moving south, an adult Gannet that flew strongly north before turning back south. Also eight Tree Pipits and two House Martins heading north and a couple of Willow Warblers singing in the trees. Two Arctic Terns feeding offshore were the only terns I saw although a Caspian Tern was sighted a bit further south on the other side of the fjord.
There was not much to see at Kurefjorden at high tide and with wind and rain. In the fields behind the fjord were a flock of 20 Golden Plovers but most surprising were 4 Greylag Goose goslings with 6 adults – they must start breeding the same day they return to the fjord! Also here another mad Blue Tit which attacked itself in my wing mirror. This is the third such bird I have seen this year – what is going on.
Mad Blue Tit #3

On the drive back I stopped at Årungen near Ås and here there were 13 Common Terns feeding with 20 each of House Martin and Swallow.
Having never seen Common Tern in Maridalen I thought it would be worth popping in to see if there were any there so that I could get another addition to my patch list. Well, I didn’t find a Common Tern but I did have 3 additions to my patch list!!!
First was a pair of Shoveler that loosely held themselves with 5 Tufted Duck and an impressive 70 Teal. I shared the news of this local rarity and soon there was a mini twitch as three of us (Ken and Asbjørn) tried to get closer views. Then I noticed another bird between us and the Shoveler – a male Eider looking very out of place! After enjoying these birds I then checked out Nesbukta and there was a female Smew with 15 Goldeneye. Three new patch ticks and all ducks – clearly a movement going on today. I thought I had seen 2 possible Garganey amongst the Teal flock in flight and whilst scanning the lake to pick them up (there were no Garganey) I found a flock of 10 Red-throated Divers alongside a pair of Black-throated. The Red-throated were very active swimming quickly and diving. There were also two House Martins hawking insects.
Spot the male Eider on Maridalsvannet - patch tick

At one stage the three of split up and Ken then had a female Hen Harrier only 500 metres from where Asbjørn and I stood without us seeing it. This is the third record here this spring with two males previously although I have not caught up with one. There has also been a Carrion Crow which is a very good local bird. This spring really must be one of the best ever in Maridalen – and it has only just started!

It doesn't look like my pictures will come back on their own account so I have begun the long job of relinking them. Thanks Google!

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