Thursday, 22 November 2012

The doctor's cure

Due to bad weather and a poorly child I haven’t been out in the field much recently which goes someway to explain why I wrote a post on gulls yesterday. After having reread my post this morning I had to rush myself off to the doctor who pronounced I showed the early signs of a serious case of larophiliitis. His cure was to get out in the field and try to find small (or large) dark birds and not to look in detail at feather dracts for at least two weeks.
So despite the continued horrible weather (grey and wet) I had another go at Hawk Owl  (haukugle). I tried first to relocate the Moss bird which I saw last week and it was sat on top of a pine a few hundred metres away when I arrived. As it was raining I thought I would sit in the car and wait for the weather to improve. When I next looked up at the bird it had gone and despite my best efforts I could not relocate it. I did find a Common Buzzard (musvåk) though which is pretty late record.

The best view I got of the Hawk Owl

Whilst searching a message came through of a Brunnich’s Guillemot (polarlomvi) at Sandvika just outside Oslo. This is a very good local bird and I thought I would change my plans and head back early to have a look at it. Some pictures had been put out on the net which showed a dark headed auk but did not give a true feel of a Brunnich’s.
When I arrived on site the bird was not initially visible but I did rack up four normal Guillemots (lomvi), a 1cy Razorbill (alke) and a nice close Little Auk (alkekonge). The auks were frequently diving and resurfacing a long distance from where they initially dived so it was difficult to keep track of them. Suddenly though there was a dark headed bird amongst them.
The scope views were good although the pictures are very grainy due to bad light and distance. There was never any doubt for me that this was “just” a Guillemot.
dark-headed Guillemot (lomvi).

note the long bill, i.e normal for a Guillemot

at this angle it does look a bit strange
 The long bill was completely wrong for Brunnich’s and there was no suggestion of a white line above the bill. Also the jizz of the bird was normal for Guillemot. What was not normal was the dark ear coverts which suit Brunnich’s but the bird also had a very broad dark throat strap which is not normal for either species. My best explanation for this plumage is that it was still in partial summer plumage and had retained this dark feathering. It should also be noted that if this is retained summer plumage then the dark strap goes too far down the throat for a Brunnich's). Interestingly not everyone is convinced by my argumentation or photos and still maintain the bird is a Brunnich’s. If I am wrong on this one then it will be time to sell the bins and take up stamp collecting!
Little Auk (alkekonge) - no disputing the ID of this one

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