Monday, 15 April 2013

Time to put the wellies on

Wow, what a day! There are some really big holes appearing in the dam and my feet are getting wet.

We’ve now had three days and nights of positive temperatures plus a good rainfall last night and this morning. This has started the thaw in earnest and the birds are now coming. The big flocks have yet to arrive but there is suddenly a lot of variety and I had 10 year ticks today. Seven Swallows (låvesvale) were a real surprise as the first Norwegian birds were only recorded yesterday and a Chiffchaff (gransanger) was also early for this year. To give an idea of how mixed up things are this year I had these two species on the same day as my first Redwing (rødvingetrost), Ring Ouzel (ringtrost), Song Thrush (måltrost), White Wagtail (linerle), Little Ringed Plover (dverglo), Golden Plover (heilo), Green Sandpiper (skogsnipe) and Common Snipe (enkeltbekkasin).

The rarest bird of the day was a hybrid, not a nasty gull hybrid but a hybrid Common x Green-winged Teal hybrid. This bird was first found on Saturday by PK Slagsvold and Andreas Gullberg at Udenes. I had seen some pictures of the birds but was very keen to see it live. It was definitely an interesting bird. Seen sideways on the presence of both vertical and horizontal white stripes was easy to see with both being narrower than they would have been on either of the parents. Head on though the horizontal stripe was not always visible and the vertical stripe looked more impressive than sideways on. Just shows that one does need to see a Green-winged Teal well to clinch the ID. Due to rain and long range the pictures are not the best.
In this picture the the hybrid Green-winged - Common Teal is on the right and a drake Common Teal on the left. The vertical and horizontal white stripes on the hybrid are clear to see. Note that the horizontal stripe is thinner than on the Common Teal. The vertical stripe is also shorter and narrower than the pure Green-winged Teal I saw 9 days ago

hybrid in the middle. The vertical stripe is obvious here although not long enough but the horizontal stripe is difficult to see

at this head on angle it looks pretty good for a pure Green-winged Teal

the same as the first picture but "improved" in photoshop

My route today was similar to last Thursday although due to quantity of birds I only made it as far as Bjørkelangen this time so did not check out Hellesjøvannet. The local bird group had an outing yesterday to a number of the sites I visited and I had a lot more birds today so there was clearly an influx overnight.
Starting with a quick drive around Maridalen I was hampered by fog but was able to note my first Redwing of the year and also a pair of Wigeon (brunnakke). I also visited Maridalen in the evening in slightly better conditions and the Wigeon were still present and I was also able to add a couple of Mistle Thrushes (duetrost) and a heard only Ring Ouzel to my list.

Mistle Thrush (duetrost) Maridalen
After Maridalen I headed to the Glomma at Udenes. The goose flock has become a lot more interesting. On the fields at Horgen there were 170 grey geese which were split roughly 100 Pink-footed (kortnebbgås) and 70 fabalis Bean Geese (sædgjess) with 10 Barnacle Geese for good measure. I saw no Bean Geese on the river so it is possible the flock has started to move on (should be 220 birds) although they could have chosen new fields to feed in (the satellite data will be available tomorrow). I was able to read two rings and also saw two of the satellite tagged birds (they have larger, darker neck tags which contain the satellite tag).
Also numbers of Whooper Swans (sangsvane) in the area.

At Udenes I had no grey geese on the river but there were 500 Mallard, a Wigeon, 26 Teal and the hybrid. Also a few Cranes in the area. This area on the Glomma River really deserves more attention especially to observe migrating birds as the river valley is clearly a natural flyway.

Crossing the river at Årnes I stopped at a couple of locations to observe wildfowl and Cranes and at one was lucky enough to see a feeding Chiffchaff in still leafless riverside willows.

Arriving in the river valley between Lierfoss and Bjørkelangen the thaw was clearly starting with snow free fields and a rising water level in the river with flooding at Kjelle and the chance of more flooding upstream from here over the course of the week. Cranes numbers have increased with 54 now in the valley and there were still numbers of Whooper Swans. Highlights were a Swallow, a male Shoveler (skjeand) at Kjelle with 43 Teal, two Ring Ouzels, three Merlins (dvergfalk), a Peregrine (vandrefalk), a pair of Snow Buntings (snøspurv), Snipe and Green Sandpipers into double figures.

male Shoveler (skjeand) Kjelle, Bjørkelangen
pair of Snow Buntings (snøspurv). Haugrim
female Merlin (dvergfalk)
male Merlin

Thoroughly pleased with my day so far I stopped at Dynovika in Lillestrøm. This bay is fed by warm water from a nearby chemical plant and is always a good place early in the spring. Today was no different with 4 Little Ringed Plovers (the first record for the year in Artsobs), a Ringed Plover and 6 Swallows. It was only the icy edges to the river and a temperature of about 4C that made me remember that spring still isn’t here properly yet.

At this time of the year it feels like anything can turn up and it becomes difficult to choose where to go. I wonder what tomorrow has in store for me?
Cranes (trane) - I had 69 in total today
an animated Whooper Swan (sangsvane)

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