Tuesday, 3 September 2013

And what do you think you are doing?

Birdwatching in foreign climes especially ones where the military holds sway can often be a dangerous affair with the local soldiers naturally suspicious of foreigners with lots of optical equipment. I, myself, had to undergo some questioning from the army whilst in Israel but have never expected to be stopped by soldiers in Norway and especially not at Fornebu but that is exactly what happened today.

Whilst searching for Red-throated Pipits (lappiplerke) amongst a couple of hundred Meadow Pipits (heipiplerke) I noticed a couple of armed soldiers in camouflage kit coming towards me (I had noted a military police car parked by a roundabout on the way in so assumed that there was some internal army thing going on). Thinking that our paths were crossing incidentally I was surprised, to say the least, when they called to me to stop. They then wanted to know what I was taking pictures of, why I had taken pictures of them and that I show them the pictures on the back of my camera. Knowing (or at least believing) that soldiers cannot order civilians around like this I didn’t give in straight away and asked them what they were doing but they remained insistent so I answered their questions and showed them my pictures (of just birds). They then radioed in and as I scanned around I saw there were soldiers standing on a distant roof top watching us in binoculars. It seems their superiors were not quite happy enough with the answers as I had to explain where I came from (seems like my accent gave me away....) and again what I was doing (seems birding is not entirely accepted as normal yet in Norway!). After radioing again and asking whether they “should take me in?!!!!” I was allowed to go on my way with a warning to be careful about taking pictures around soldiers. I answered that I wasn’t expecting to find armed soldiers at Fornebu which they did acknowledge was a fair point.
Checking on the net it appears there is a massive anti terror exercise going on in Oslo at the moment and Fornebu was highlighted as one of the areas where there would be activities. Quite how I fitted into this exercise though remains a mystery to me! Tomorrow I think I will return and don my own camouflage kit and creep around on all fours taking pictures of Meadow Pipits, should be fun....

I did eventually find, or more precisely hear, a single Red-throated Pipit amongst all the Meadows aswell as, only, 2 Tree Pipits (trepiplerke). Only a single Bluethroat showed itself today.
Heading the soldiers advice I have no pictures to present today.

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