Monday, 26 November 2012

The Hawk Owl Admiration Society

At the risk of needing to change the name of the entire blog to the ”Hawk Owl Admiration Society” I will bore with you some more pictures and words on the Maridalen Hawk Owl.

After not having been seen by either myself or three others yesterday it was back this morning in exactly the same place as we had seen it on Saturday. Hawk Owl is normally a rare bird in southern Scandinavia, however there are cyclical crashes in rodents populations further north and east and depending on the geographical scale of these crashes large numbers of Hawk Owls can appear in the south. The last big invasion in the Oslo area was in 1984/85 so for many (myself included) this is the first chance to get to see this species without having to travel far. In 2010 and 2011 there was a cyclical high in the rodent population in middle and northern Scandinavia resulting in a many breeding pairs of Hawk Owl in Norway. During the winter of 2011/12 the rodent population collapsed such that I am not aware of any breeding Hawk Owls in Norway other than in Finnmark in the far north – the birds moved to where there was food. The birds that are now turning up around Oslo are therefore not birds that have bred in Norway this year. I suspect that they actually come from much further east in Russia as Finland and Sweden have also seen similar invasions.

As this Hawk Owl in Maridalen has chosen to remain loyal to the same place for at least four days then there must be sufficient rodents for it and with luck it will hang around even longer. Today there was falling snow and this led to new photographic opportunities so I will permit myself to show a few new pictures.
Hawk Owl (haukugle) Maridalen - the snow is settling on its head!

The body feathers are extremely dense and must keep this subarctic species very warm

Nuthatch of the subspecies europaea which has much whiter underparts than British birds

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