Friday, 7 December 2012


A tale of two emergency stops, 2 hard shoulders, 2 Hawk Owls and a Jay...

Rune and I followed a well trodden path today with Kurefjorden as our destination but with some detours on the way.
Maridalen failed to reveal any Pine Grosbeaks but they are surely still there. The first emergency stop came on the E6 motorway when I had a potential Hawk Owl on top of a spruce. Rune deftly shifted across two lanes, ignored the tooting of other drivers and stopped on the hard shoulder. After my pulse had dropped I was able to look at the bird in question only to find it was a Jay (nøtteskrike) - the third time I have been nearly been so fooled by a Jay.
The Nesodden Hawk Owl showed easily for us although was a bit flighty as it flew from one tall tree to another seemingly in active food mouse locating modus. It did however give me some opportunities to yet again not take good flight photos.
Hawk Owl, Svestad, Nesodden
Hooded Crow and Carrion Crow

We tried for the Moss Hawk Owl but could only manage a Great Grey Shrike (varsler).  We also dropped in to Drøbak and had good views of the Carrion Crow (svartkråke) which looks to be paired with a Hooded Crow (kråke). It will interesting to see what any eventual young look like.
Carrion Crow (svartkråke) Drøbak
Kurefjorden revealed 4 separate Rough-legged Buzzards in the air but little else and driving home we had our second Great Grey Shrike of the day at its usual place along the E6 by Son but all these things were just warming us up for the days undoubted highlight.

Driving past Årungen lake I saw another Jay on a tree top but this one actually did not look like a Jay. Another emergency stop, another hard shoulder and this time success although at distance. With reversing down the hard shoulder being too much to ask even of Rune we had to drive a further km before we could leave the motorway onto a minor road which brought us back to where the owl had been - but where was it? We scanned all visible tree trops and there it was flying over the motorway.
It perched on top of a spruce on the other side of the motorway but seemed to have its attention focused on some rough grass on our side. It then flew back to our side, perched briefly on another tall spruce before flying down hovering, down a bit more, more hovering and then plunge. We couldn't see it on the deck but after about 30 seconds it flew up with a rat sized rodent in its claws. The autofocus of course failed to keep up with all the action so I my attempts to capture the bird flying with prey resulted in just a fuzzy mess. It was however great to see Hawk Owl hunting and this is one of the reasons I have spent so much time with this species the last few weeks as I had only once witnessed an (unsuccesful) hunting attempt before in Finnmark.
This bird seemed to have located its prey across a busy motorway. Due to the long grass I doubt it saw the rat so I assume must have heard it which is amazing when you consider how much noise from the road it had to filter out to hear the rustle from a rodent!
montage of pictures whowing the hunting Hawk Owl. On the right hand side it is hoveringaround 10m above the ground and in the other picture is only a couple of metres above the ground just before its succesful plunge. The motorway is directly behind and below the bird with the spruce trees being on the other side.
I can't resist showing another photo of the Nesodden owl in sunlight

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