Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Hazel Grouse

Today was the first really cold day of the winter with the temperature showing -6C when we woke and not rising above zero during the day. With blue skies and no wind I decided to have another go at capturing Hazel Grouse (jerpe) on film. I located birds at both of the lower sites at Mellomkollen where I had them last week and didn’t need to slog upto the top.

At the most reliable site a male responded to playback and flew over my head before then playing cat and mouse with me and calling regularly over the course of the next half an hour but never showing itself even though it was only ca.15 metres from me.

On the way back down after having seen the Dipper (fossekall) again on the small and mostly frozen pond I then had some real luck when I saw two Hazel Grouse feeding high up in alder trees over the path. At last they were showing in the open although the light for photography was appalling as the low sun was behind the birds. I wasn’t able to get into a better position and as I tried to come closer the birds flew into the forest. I did manage some pictures though and resorted to forcing the exposure to +4.3 to get at least some detail of the bird. Well, now that I have such reliable sites for this sought after bird it is just to be patient and plan a bit better.
male Hazel Grouse (jerpe)

female Hazel Grouse - not really that easy to see but the female lacks the black throat of the male

the male eating Alder (or) catkins - a favourite food source

I made another visit to Østensjøvannet hoping that the lake would be mostly frozen such that the male Smew (lappfiskand) that I failed to see the last two days would be easier to find. Unfortunately the lake was 99% frozen and this seems to have caused the Smew to move on – it had definitely moved the Goosanders (laksand) on which I had managed to find previously. There were still a lot of birds though and the Coots were concentrated in a small ice free patch of water in the middle of the lake whilst the ducks and geese were in two areas of ice free water where they are fed. Amongst the Mallards were a male Pintail (stjertand) and female Teal (krikkand) and a few Tufteds (toppand) and Goldeneyes (kvinender).

The Mute Swan numbers had fallen slightly. Whereas on Monday I had 7 pairs plus 3, 2 & 1 youngsters, today there were 6 pairs, 3 & 1 young, a single adult and a dead youngster frozen in the ice. So one adult and one youngster were gone and one youngster dead. The single adult was stood on the ice not far from the dead youngster so it is tempting to assume that was one its parents and that the other parent and sibling have left Østensjøvannet (as all the other swans will soon be forced to do) for the fjord.
male Pintail (stjertand). If this was an adult then it should already be in full plumage with a long tail so this bird is a bird of the year (1 c.y) which is confirmed by the dark eye

the speculum should have a green tinge but presumably the angler that the light has hit it means it isn't visible in this photo

The light today was fantastic for photographing the Mallards and the metallic sheen of the head feathers looks different depending on the angle of the bird

male Mallard (stokkand)

female Mallards aren't so dull really

a bit of an Elvis look about this one
a dead juv Mute Swan (knoppsvane) lying frozen into the ice
this pair of Barnacle Geese (hvitkinngås) had a slippery landing on the ice

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