BIRD GUIDING AROUND OSLO

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Grosbeaks again!

Pine Grosbeak (konglebit). The orange colour makes this a 1st winter male


What a fantastic yet frustrating bird! Some people see them eating rowan berries low down at point blank range. My destiny seems to be to see them in the top of trees in bad light....but they are still fantastic and maybe it is more fitting that this taiga specialist is hidden away in the top of a snow clad spruce than nearly feeding from your hand.

Rune and I had to travel to Klapp in Oppland for these birds but when we saw that up to 10 birds had been seen regularly in a wood measuring 500m by 500m it seemed too good an opportunity to pass up. In the end we had zigzagged 3 km through the wood and were nearly back at the car before we located them. They called occasionally but were generally silent and the best way to locate them was by looking for branches that were moving. Up to four birds could be seen before they started calling and then flew to the next spruce tree when suddenly 11 birds flew out! They repeated this behaviour every few minutes and seemed to thoroughly search each tree for all available food. Although there were cones on the spruce trees these are not what they eat - instead they were eating buds or baby cones. They could also be seen eating snow. The main call we heard was a quiet contact call with a Bullfinch like quality, a loud whistle which seemed more like an alarm call and normally preceeded them flying to a new tree and also some quiet song. I didn't once hear the "typical" call which is on the recordings I have but this would appear to be the flight call. We also didn't see a single red male although there were some young males.
 
female Pine Grosbeak

together with a Blue Tit. Pine Grosbeaks are large birds which is especially noticeable in flight

The bird on the left can be seen eating snow

this bird is also a 1st winter male I believe
 



eating buds - Grosbeak snacks

four Pine Grosbeaks in a tree top

Despite our best efforts we couldn't find any Hawk Owls. Whilst searching in Hurdal we found a flock of 30 Common Redpolls (gråsisik) feeding in birch trees. They called frequently and gave a call that I don't normally associate with Redpolls . Although there were some pale birds amongst them we couldn't find any Arctics (polarsisik) although their complete lack of fear suggests to me a distant origin.
Common Redpoll - very white under but note a single dark streak on the undertail coverts.  note also the "hairy trousers" which are normally touted as a Hornemanni Arctic Redpoll character



One of only a couple of adult males seen in the flock- note the white underparts but a sinlge dark feather on the undertail coverts and heavy flank streaking

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