Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Med Gull

Since returning from holiday on Saturday I have made 4 attempts to see Mediterreanean Gull (svartehavsmåke) close to Oslo. There are two birds around and I was hoping to add the bird to my year list and get some good photos.

On Sunday I was at one site for an hour and a half and left with only a blown out tyre for my efforts after hitting a curb whilst turning the car round (such large punctures make you wish your car had a spare wheel instead of just a bottle of glue and a pump). On Monday I gave it only half an hour as there seemed to be no coming or going amongst the small number of gulls present and yesterday I tried for the other individual a half-hours drive out of Oslo and threw in the towel after an hour and a half.

Not one to give in easily though today I arrived at the first site, Valle Hovin, at 0930 this morning. This is a park in Oslo with a small pond and I decided that given the fine sunny autumn weather I would sit it out. Other birders came and went but eventually I was joined by Per Buertange and after seeing little evidence of new arrivals amongst the 50 or so gulls present we suddenly, and eventually!, found the Med Gull at 1330.
Mediterranean Gull (svartehavsmåke) - young birds in autumn have become an annual treat the last few years. Ringed individuals last year showed Germany to be source
As is invariably the case in these parts when a scarce gull turns up this unfortunate youngster had been molested by some green clad men and was now covered in bling. It seems that white is last years fashion as this bird bore a green leg ring. The fact that it had been ringed had not been reported and none of the pictures taken since the dirty dead was done has shown the legs. This was a particular shame for Per whose hope had been to get a picture of a pure, unmolested Med Gull. Luckily though for him when it walked in the grass the ring was sometimes not visible ;-)

it nearly looks untouched

The poor creature bore the tell tale scars, both physical and mental, of its capture and subsequent molestation: it was noticeably wary of people, walked with a limp and spent a lot of time vigorously washing itself as though trying to remove all traces of its ordeal.

water flying everywhere during a thorough wash

This particular individual was also very small and even appeared smaller than a Black-headed Gull it swam past. Small size most likely means it is a female but I also remember the 2011/12 overwintering bird being very small. Perhaps a runt individual is more prone to stray off course?

dwarfed by a Common Gull
Whilst waiting four hours I was able to look for rings on the 110 Barnacle Geese (hvitkinngås) that were present. I read 6 rings and have found out that all were ringed in the Oslo area with some having been ringed as far back as 2008. All had been re-read many times but only one outside the Oslo area. AXB was read in Zeeland, Holland on 10 Jan 2012 indicating this is where these geese overwinter.
Barnacle Goose AXB which has been seen wintering in Holland

Little else of note whilst I waited, no fly over Dicks Pipits or Pallid Harriers just a few Crossbills and a Hawfinch.

Back at home I have started feeding the birds for the winter and so far have a steady stream of Great Tits (kjøttmeis) and Tree (pilfink) and House Sparrows (gråspurv) devouring the sunflower seeds I have put out. An unexpected bird today though was a Common Crossbill (grannkorsnebb). I was in the back room when I heard the unmistakeable call of a Crossbill through the air vent. I rushed to the front door and there it was perched less than 10 metres away. A subsequent rush to get the camera though was in vain as it had flown off by the time I returned. Whether it had been attracted by the other birds I don’t know but hopefully it will be back and maybe with a wing-barred cousin.
The pictures I took of the Med Gull were OK but not as good as I had hoped. 

Here is also a short video clip:

cleaning each feather individually

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