With it being windless I thought that it would be a good day to trawl the forests north of Maridalen for some of the low density forest specialities such as Hazel Grouse (jerpe) and Three-toed Woodpecker (tretåspett). Still days like this allow the sounds in the forest to carry further making it easier to locate the few birds that are there at this time of the year.
At one of the sites where I have previously seen Hazel Grouse I found fresh droppings but no birds – in fact there was hardly a bird of any description in the forests today. Moving higher up I came to an area with deciduous trees by a stream – very good Hazel Grouse habitat. I heard a whirring of wings from up in the trees ahead of me twice but wasn’t able to locate the bird. As I searched though I came across a very close Pygmy Owl (spurveugle). Unfortunately it was quite misty in just this area so the pictures have a grey haze over them (although photoshop magically removed this). I lost sight of the owl and played its call on my phone in an attempt to locate it. I got an immediate response from what I initially thought was a Hazel Grouse but soon realised (after checking) was actually the call of a female Pygmy Owl. A male then gave a few bursts of its autumn song and it became quite atmospheric in the mist covered, dark, damp forest being serenaded by owls.
|This Pygmy Owl (spurveugle) was a nice surprise as I searched for a Hazel Grouse|
I continued up to the top of Mellomkollen and came over the mist. Despite walking through fantastic mature spruce forest with many dead trees and lots of ‘pecker holes there wasn’t a single woodpecker of any species to see or hear. Sitting at the top with a great view over the forests there was also next to nothing to note with just a single Jay (nøtteskrike) and Treecreeper (trekryper). On the way back down I stopped where I had had the owls and played some calls of Pygmy Owl and of Hazel Grouse. The call of female Pygmy Owl seemed to also fool a Hazel Grouse as I soon heard a whirring of wings very close by. It flew off another couple of times before I finally saw it, briefly in flight. It sounded like it landed not too far away but I couldn’t see it. A couple of loud claps though and it flew out again, this time over me and landed 20 metres away in tree where I was able to watch it through the mist before it yet again whirred off.
Days like this in the forest are very frustrating because the density of birds is so low but there is usually a least one species that rewards you and today I had two.