Wednesday, 18 December 2013

A taste of winter

This morning brought freezing temperatures and snow although the wintery feeling was only brief as by lunchtime it was already over zero again with rain - and this is how it is forecast to continue over xmas. A Blackbird (svarttrost) singing in the pitch black in the garden at 7am today was plainly very confused!

I had a couple of hours to do Oslo by public transport and started at the park at Marienlyst. This park is Collared Dove (tyrkerdue) central and held 15 today. It normally also holds large numbers of Common Gulls (fiskemåke) but today there were just 8 even though they were being fed as usual by the local old dears. There appear to be far fewer smaller gulls in Oslo this winter and in nearby Frognerpark there wasn’t a single one although 40 Herring Gulls (gråmåke)  was more than normal. They included 4 colour ringed birds, 3 of which I was able to read. I could only find details of two of the birds though: both were ringed locally with the only interesting information gleaned being that one, J5700, had been seen in Moss, 47km away, just 3 days ago.
Three female Teal (krikkand) amongst the Mallards (stokkand) would appear to be a new winter high and five Tufted Duck (toppand) are also attempting to overwinter.

Birding in Oslo at the moment would not be complete without a trip to the Botanical Gardens and a new day brought a new avian makeup. Fieldfares (gråtrost) had arrived in force with at least 60 eating berries. Apart from a handful of Blackbirds there was nothing rarer amongst them not even a Redwing (rødvingetrost). Greenfinches (grønnfink) were also back feeding on the berries as were at least 4 very vocal Hawfinches (kjernebiter) and a couple of Chaffinches (bokfink). The first crossbill I saw took me a while so sort out but was a female Common (grankorsnebb). She favoured feeding on the ground under a type of spruce where there were many fallen cones. Two Two-barreds (båndkorsnebb) were still around though and suddenly turned up in the berry tree. The bird that has disappeared is the grey female so it is the bright female and the male left. They yet again fed high in the tree before being scared by a young male Goshawk (hønsehauk) that put everything up as he came into land nearby. They then fed in a couple of different spruces before again returning to the favoured tree. Yet again they did not feel the need to come down for water/snow but I did see the female seemingly finding water amongst moss on a branch. At one stage a group of 7 Common Crossbills flew over calling and the 2 2BC flew up calling to join them but then quickly landed in a spruce whilst the others flew on.
young (1st CY) male Blackbird. Note the mostly dark bill and brown tinge to the flight feathers

aduløt male Blackbird. Note the orangey/yellow bill, bright eye ring and jet black plumage. Or is it an adult? Although obviously different to the bird pictured above this one does have dark smudges on the bill. Maybe it is just a far more advanced 1cy (born earlier in the year?). I took no pictures showing the flight feathers so can't be certain.

female Common Crossbill (grankorsnebb)

the same female Common Crossbill

and a female Two-barred Crossbill for comparison
Hawfinch (kjernebiter) - look at that bill!

female Two-barred Crossbill

male Two-barred Crossbill

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