Thursday, 28 November 2013

Guess what?

Well I’m nothing if not predictable so after a fairly fruitless trip around Maridalen I found myself at the Botanical Gardens again. There was a bitter North West wind today but with glorious sunshine from a cloud free sky I hoped that there might be the chance for some marginally better pictures. As I was meeting James for some filming at Østensjøvannet at 1130 I left before the sun was at its highest but it is doubtful that the favoured fruit tree gets that much direct sunlight.

There were only four birds in the hour I was there and it was the reddest male who was missing. Given their tameness they must be easy prey for a Sparrowhawk or cat so it isn’t surprising their numbers have been depleted. With the warmer weather (once out of the wind) the frost that they had been eating has now disappeared although they did drop down onto the grass for a short period. I couldn’t really work out what they were eating/drinking from the grass but they quickly moved to the nearby path where it looked like they were digesting grit which is a well known for crossbills presumably as a help for digestion. Two of the birds - a male and a female - interacted by touching bills and it looked like they may have passed food between themselves. Although suggesting an adult feeding a youngster, the age of the birds (both 1cy) and time of the year means it must be some other type of behaviour. These two birds were often together and I believe are actually pair forming and that what I witnessed was courtship feeding. See for yourself in this video from today (I am still working on another video from the previous 3 days footage).

Otherwise I did get some pictures which may be better than the previous days efforts but I’m not sure I’m the best judge.

the first birds I saw in the berry tree were these Waxwings which are far more efficient than the Crossbills and just eat the whole berry

here are the Two-barred Crossbills (båndkorsnebb) eating grit

pretty happy with this one

the same bird in all four pictures - note how the perception of colours changes depending on the lighting

At Østensjøvannet the birds were a bit wary of the underwater camera we tried to use but the light was very good and there were some good shots. There are just two very small patches of open water left and amongst the hundreds of Mallards the young male Pintail made a good subject.
the Pintail was often on the receiving end of a lot of Mallard abuse

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