Thursday, 11 April 2013

The first cracks are appearing

Despite winter not giving up without a fight and throwing snow at us today the pressure is building up so much that the dam has started cracking. Unlike a normal dam though it is not the small things that are coming through first but the big things. Whilst thrushes, pipits and finches are completely absent there has finally been an arrival of Cranes (trane) and Whooper Swans (sangsvane) and geese numbers are building up. Lakes are still frozen and there is no flood water in the river valleys so it is perhaps not surprising that the Glomma valley and snow free fields bordering it was where there were a lot of birds today.

My morning started just north of Gardemoen airport. Here is the only known regular site for Woodlark (trelerke) in Akershus although they are likely to be present in other areas. I was here last week but there was still snow everywhere but today there were some bare patches especially along the road. I had a male Woodlark singing over the area and he then landed and began feeding by the road although flew up everytime a car drove past and sang also from the tops of small trees. The song of this bird rates up there amongst the best. Also here a drumming Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

Woodlark (trelerke)

it was finding food within a metre of the road on the verge

in flight
My next destination was the Glomma at Udnes and along the way I had some real luck. First a perched Great Grey Shrike (varlser) and then a fly over male Hen Harrier (myrhauk). I remember when I saw male Pallid Harriers (steppehauk) migrating in Israel thinking that they looked tern like, well this male Hen Harrier looked more like a small gull as it flew over the road with a very light flight. I managed to snap off some pictures as he flew away from me.

male Hen Harrier
Arriving at the Udnes area a flock of 80 Whooper Swans (sangsvane) in roadside fields contained 24 Pink-footed Geese (kortnebbgås). I find it very interesting that these geese choose the company of Whooper Swans and not the Bean Geese. There were only a small number of Bean Geese in their usual fields when I arrived although there were a few small groups flying down to the river. I then headed down to the river and was able to count over 180 birds although strongly suspected there were more around a bend which I couldn’t see. There were a lot of birds on and around the Glomma both here and to the north and south. I had 31 Cranes, another flock of 160 Whooper Swans, small numbers of Greylag (grågås) and Canada Geese (kanadagås) and another small flock of Pink-foots. There were also large numbers of Mallards (stokkand)(over 500) with many feeding actively in fields which is not normally something you see as they often feed at night. Amongst them were single male Teal (krikkand) and Wigeon (brunnakke).

there must have been spilt corn here as there was a large concentration of birds on this field. Cranes, Mallard and Crows can be seen here and resting on the river below were some geese. The picture is taken  looking across the Glomma river.
Heading down towards Bjørkelangen there were now birds in the valley between Haneborg and Bjørkelangen lake: 27 Cranes, 90 Whooper Swans and 5 Buzzards (musvåk).

Continuing on towards Hellesjøvannet there were further small groups of Whooper Swans, Cranes and Canada and Greylag Geese plus a single Curlew (storspove). Helesjøvannet itself had very little to offer although a pair of Lapwings close to the road allowed me to take some pictures.

male Lapwing (vipe) left and female right. Note the cleaner plumage of the male especially the shiny black on the head and breast plus the longer head plumes
Spring days like today are just fantastic: Cranes and flocks of calling Whooper Swans are such majestic birds and they grace these parts in such numbers for just a few weeks each spring. Many of the Cranes probably breed in the local forests but the swans are passing through on their way north.
These two buck Roe Deer (rådyr) were munching away in the reedbeds at Hellesjøvannet

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