Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Those birds keep on coming….

I will start first with the bird that prevented me from posting on the blog until now:

DISPLAYING GREAT SNIPE:  a bird was flushed at Fornebu on Saturday and was flushed again from the same area yesterday. I also managed to flush it this afternoon and thought I would go back again this evening to see if it was displaying/singing. Per Christian joined me and when we first got there just before 9pm there were people flying model aeroplanes so we checked out a nearby area of waster ground. Here we had very good views of a Short-eared Owl. This was a different bird to that I saw here earlier in the day (the other had very worn flight feathers) so I wonder if they are breeding here (a single bird has been seen since February and there are a couple of other reports of two birds).
After the plane people had left Per Christian and I went to the area of grass where the snipe had been. We played 10 seconds of song from the phone and got an immediate short response at 2105 from about 30m awat. We were unable to see it even though it was not far away and still relatively light. As we tried to locate it we accidentally flushed it and its white outer tail feathers were incredibly visible in the low light. Rune soon appeared (after a call) and just as he arrived the bird started singing again from the same area (so had returned unseen). This time we were eventually able to locate it although by now the light was very poor. We saw it running like a rodent before stopping and then standing still for long periods and calling occasionally. Try as I might I could not take a picture: without a flash it was just too dark and when I tried with the flash it was not powerful enough. There were possibly two birds as one picture I took did seem to show flash reflecting off two eyes.
The left hand shiny reflection is the eye of a Great Snipe and you can just about make out its head and body. The reflection on the right is also most likely another Great Snipe but this picture will prove nothing!

The song of Great Snipe really is a most incredible noise but it is also very weak and would doubtfully carry more than 100m. In the failing light there was quite a lot of activity from Little Ringed Plovers, as well as a fly over Snipe and Common Sandpiper.

So that was this back to the start of the day:

I had the company of Asbjørn Thune today for a trip around Maridalen, Nordre Øyeren and Fornebu. Overnight rain had me hoping for an arrival of ducks or waders but that didn’t seem to be the case – the rain had probably started too early yesterday evening such that there was little movement.
Starting in Maridalen a single Red-throated Diver on the lake was probably a migrant but otherwise little to see with the Goldeneye flock having now dispersed and no other ducks of note. At Nes we stopped to look over the lake and only had two overflying Snipe but then heard a single hoot from a Tawny Owl from the small wood where they normally breed but from which there has been no evidence of them this year. Going into the wood Fieldfares were scolding and flying at something and sure enough there was a Tawny Owl seeking cover high up in a spruce tree. Funny that I have not heard a hoot during five or so night trips in Maridalen but here one mid morning.
Tawny Owl Maridalen

At Dausjøelva we had hunting Merlin and Sparrowhawk. The Wryneck was singing from his hole again and I also heard another bird (Per Christian saw both yesterday) so with luck we will have breeding this year.
Wryneck collage
 Later in the day at Maridalen there was a Spotted Flycatcher and Pied Flycatcher together and a flock of 7 Whimbrel flew north.
At Svellet there is only around 100 metres of mudflat left and it will only take the water level to rise a couple of centimetres for it to vanish. The waders are easier to see though and there are still lots. 400+ Wood Sandpipers and 100 Greenshank were by far the most numerous with the variation coming in the form of the first 2 Dunlin of the year, 8 Ringed Plover, 10 Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Ruff, 6 Oystercatchers, 2 Lapwing, 2 Curlew and 7 flyover Whimbrel.
At Tuentangen we had a female Marsh Harrier and Merlin and on a small pool a male Common Scoter which was not present when we walked past on the way out but was there on our return along with 8 Teal. Quite why it had chosen this small pool when it could have been out on the enormous Svellet I don’t know.
Male Common Scoter which turned up on a surpisingly small pool

At Snekkervika we had single Kestrel and Osprey and 50 Common Terns but nothing more interesting among them.
On the way home we decided to take in Fornebu where a Great Snipe was seen yesterday evening (having also been seen on Saturday). The area where the snipe had been seen is an area of wasteland which has some good grass cover and a healthy population of rodents although it is not particularly damp. The rodents were probably the reason for a Short-eared Owl that we saw well. Walking through the wasteland we flushed two Common Snipe and then the great Snipe which was clearly heavier, darker, more streaked and flew low in a straight line unlike the Snipe which exploded calling and zigzagged upwards. Happy with this we went to Rolfstangen and successfully located the Little Gulls that had been seen earlier in the day: 4 1st summer birds. Also here 12 Guillemots and a flock of 19 Common Scoter.

Short.eared Owl Collage. The bird on the left (most likely a female due to buff underparts), seen in the afternoon, differs to the bird on the right and centre, from teh evening, which is a lot paler (and therefore a male) due to the very worn flight feathers.

What a day!!

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