Thursday, 19 April 2012

Maridalen shines!

Two patch ticks (one avian and one mammal) and my first ever national rarity on the patch ensured that today was another one of those good Maridalen days. When I first started this blog I considered calling it Maridalen Birder but chose not to in the end as I thought was too narrow. I am now birding more often than outside of Oslo but Maridalen remains my local patch and it is difficult to beat a good day here.
I will take the mammal tick first: a hare which was still mostly white. It was a large beast that I disturbed in a small copse and it should count itself lucky there are no Golden Eagles around here as it would stand out like a very sore thumb. Why it hasn’t managed to change to its summer colours is a mystery to me as the snow disappeared here a month ago and in a normal year there would not normally be any snow left by this time. Maybe it is a sick animal which would also explain why it is down in Maridalen (I would expect it to be further up in Nordmarka).
The avian patch tick and my first national rarity was a (the) 2k Mediterranean Gull. It was stood on the edge of the last remaining ice in Nesbukta along with a 100 or so other gulls and 8 Curlews and its colour ring (J4Y5) confirmed it to be the same bird that has been around Oslo for the last 4 months. Its plumage has not developed much since I last saw it but it had perhaps a little more black on the head. It will be great if it hangs around until next winter when it will develop a far smarter plumage. This picture is the best (heavily heavily cropped) that I managed due to the long range.
Oslo's long staying Med Gull

Yesterdays easterly winds have continued today and indeed are forecast to continue for a week or so. It was a bit warmer today and probably more attractive for raptors. I was only there in the morning and afternoons are normally more productive for raptors but 4 migrating Sparrowhawks, 1 Kestrel, an Osprey and the local male Goshawk made for an OK haul. The best of the viz mig though was 8 Cranes. First through were a pair which were following hot on the heels of 14 Greylag Geese. Both the Cranes and the geese circled a lot over Maridalen as though they were considering whether to land but eventually continued north. A flock of 6 Cranes followed 30 minutes later and here 1 bird was calling a lot and kept circling on its own. For a while the other five waited and they too circled over my head for 5 minutes before heading north whilst the single bird kept circling and eventually drifted south still calling.
6 of in total 8 Cranes

On the water were over 50 Teal, 4 Wigeon, 3 Tufted Duck, 5 Goosander, 20 Goldeneye, 6 Mallard, a pair of Red-throated Divers, 5 Black-throated Divers, 3 Canada Geese and a lone Whooper Swan. The Whooper Swan flew off calling towards Dausjøen where I assume they are breeding again. It is interesting with the Red-throated Divers. In previous years I have seen flocks of migrating birds around 1 May but last year one or two birds were seen on and off during the summer and I found a pair with a well grown youngster on a nearby lake in the summer. They have clearly started breeding in Nordmarka and are using Maridalsvannet for feeding.
A number of Thrushes and Starlings feeding in stubble feeds included a couple of Mistle Thrushes and best of all a Ring Ouzel. A singing Chiffchaff was my only warbler (Blackcaps and Willow Warblers should start turning up soon) and 7 Twite were the most unusual finch.
I also had my first frogs and toad of the year with the toad nearly being no more as I just managed to avoid running it over.

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