Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Being an Ornithologist

I was birding today at the Botanical Gardens but this time it was without binoculars and inside. I was examining skins in the collection at the Zoological Museum (which is housed in the gardens). In connection with a review we are doing in the NSKF, Tor Olsen had unearthed a picture of a previously accepted bird turned up which clearly didn’t look right. Luckily the bird in question had been found dead and the specimen deposited at the museum. I was sent off to investigate and had my first ever session going through skins and thoroughly enjoyed it! Maybe there are the makings of a proper ornithologist in me after all.

I will not reveal what the species was (yet) as I intend to write a proper article on the subject but it is from a genus that loves to produce hybrids which is what this particular bird turned out to be.

I also found a specimen of Blue-winged Teal (blåvingand), which has less than 10 Norwegian records, in the museum which is not in our archives although it may be a case of incorrect labelling.

Outside of the buildings the park was as equally birdless as yesterday although three different Goshawks (hønsehauk) was an unusual sight. Two different young birds were on view together and one was very vocal with a gull like quality to its call.

As I was in town and on foot I checked out some of the gulls gatherings but couldn’t turn up any white-winged variants despite the arctic like conditions.

In the garden at home, the onset of the cold weather on Saturday had brought about a sharp interest in the number of Blackbirds (svarttrost) in the garden with three different adult males, 2 2cy males and a female showing themselves. This was up from the normal single example of each age/sex class. Now it is only the three birds again and they are being quite territorial. On the Saturday though they were not chasing each other off and it almost seemed that the sudden change in the weather had put survivial first but that now they have settled into their old routines again and vigorously defend their “own” apple that I put out for them.

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