Alternate title: Luck favours the ill prepared.
After a couple of hours of building snow holes and snowmen I thought I would pop up to Maridalen. As I had all my outdoor clothing on I could not be bothered to go in and get my camera (I would also have needed to change lenses) – after all it was bad light, there was snow in the air and I hadn’t seen too much on my last Maridalen visits, so no need for a camera then. As a back-up I could always take pictures with the phone through my bins.
With it being +1C and lots of fresh snow driving was not easy and I seriously thought about turning round on at least three occasions but I saw there were enough other people on the roads that surely it would be OK. There was nothing to see in Maridalen as I drove up to Skar and two stops failed to produce any Pine Grosbeaks. I did not dare drive to the feeding station where “anonymous” wrote on my blog that they had seen a Goshawk eating the side of pork yesterday as I feared I would not make one steep section of road.
Deciding it was best to head home in one piece what flew over the road? Of course it was a flock of 12 Pine Grosbeaks. As is well known the best way to find this otherwise unobtrusive species is to drive well-trafficked roads and wait for them. It really is an enigma how I fail to find them when I go walking in the forest but I manage to find them from the road. For a species that can stay in the same tree for 10 minutes before flying to the neighbouring tree, the chances of discovering them from the car must be minimal but I have now done so six times in Maridalen this winter!
I had to drive a bit before I could turn the car round and then had to drive back past where I had seen the birds for a few hundred metres before I could park safely. I then had to walk back but they were exactly where I had seen them fly in. All 12 birds in the same spruce tree, feeding and occasionally calling quietly. Of course as I had no camera, they gave the best views I have had in Maridalen as they fed halfway down the tree. There were also a number of males. My attempts at taking pictures with the iphone through my old Zeiss bins was a fiasco as I had not tried to do so before with this combo and practice is needed and also the phone didn’t want to record as there was no memory left! Great views but no photos...oh well.
Jarl Nystrøm drove past and was able to enjoy the Grosbeaks and also tell me that both an adult and a young Goshawk (hønsehauk) had been feeding on the pork! What the hell I thought, I’ll give it a go. Enormous amounts of wheel spinning, burning clutch and high pulse got me there but the birds didn’t show for me and I was keen to drive home whilst it was still light. There will always be a tomorrow but as long as I survive the journey.....
I did manage this video which shows nothing more that the tree they were in, a second long sequence where you can see them in flight and those with exceptionally good hearing can, in addition to a passing car, hear the Grosbeaks calling. Enjoy!