Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The weather forecasters don't perform but the birds do

Yesterday was supposed to be sunny but was grey and cloudy and today ended up being the reverse. I therefore didn't plan much birding today but thought I would check out a couple og sites around Oslo. A drive around Sørkedalen failed to reveal any owls and at Sandvika the river was frozen and there were hardly any gulls (I had hoped to refind the Glaucous).
At this point the sun started to burn through the clouds so I thought a trip south of Oslo might give me some photogenic Hawk Owls at the regular spots - I am still hoping for an even better picture than the 1000+ I have taken in the last couple of months. On the way I stopped at Oslo Harbour where the only ice-free water is now at Kongshavn and today the Little Grebe (dvergdykker) showed to me. Not visible at first amongst the 400 or so Mallard (stokkand) and handful of Goldeneye (kvinand) and Tufted Duck (toppand) it eventually flew out of the tunnel, which I was standing on top of, where the river enters the fjord.
The Hawk Owl at Frogn School revealed itself to me for the first time but was in no way within photo range and it wasn't possible to get closer. The bird at Furu was also still on show but again it was not possible to get close. I hoped that the bird at Kroer would save the reputation for its species but it was not to be refound although the Great Grey Shrike (varsler) showed. I realise that my addiction is complete as I just need to “get” some Hawkie, I’m no longer bothered about enjoying the experience!

The obligatory drive around Maridalen turned up trumps big time. As I approached the stretch of Gamle Maridalsvei between Turtermarka bus stop and Maridalen School I saw some birds sitting on top of spruce. This is the same area where I had my first Grosbeaks back in October, where flocks of 25 & 45 were seen just before New Year and where I had 25 last week. Sure enough my birds were also Pine Grosbeaks and this time I had at least 40 in the same spruce tree. As usual it isn’t easily counting them but I could see at least 20 in the tree and estimated 40 when they flew out. A couple of the birds also perched in a deciduous tree (ash?) and looked to be eating the buds here.
This stretch of road therefore seems to be the most reliable site for the species in Maridalen (and maybe the whole of Norway) at the moment. The birds were not that close for good photos although the light was good. However, I did not check my camera settings before firing off 50 pictures which was a mistake as the camera was set for over exposure. A shame....

Near Tønsberg a Great Grey Owl (lappugle) was seen by a non-birder yesterday – hopefully it will be pinned down.
male Mallard (stokkand)

this Goldeneye (kvinand) pair were courting but it was the female doing the chasing

a fine male Goosander (laksand)

Little Grebes (dvergdykker) always try to find a corner to hide in
4 overexposed Piune Grosbeaks (konglebit) high in a spruce

a male in the sun

the closest I got to Hawkie today - this one at Frogn School

and here is the one at Furu, honest...
Great Grey Shrikes (varsler) were my target last winter - they seem rather dull this winter

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