Friday, 14 March 2014

Bean owling

I'm quite happy with yesterday even though things didn’t turn out completely as planned. There were two goals for the day: help understand more about the Bean Geese and find some owls!

The latest GPS data I received on the geese yesterday showed that they were again using Flakstadmåsen, the peat bog that they favoured last autumn. Per Christian and I got there just after lunch (after having found a couple of early Woodlarks (trelerke) back at the stake out and a Great Grey Shrike (varsler) nearby) and immediately had 6 Beans flying in from the NE. They lost height and circled a couple of times but then headed off East. I took this to mean there were no other geese on the deck but five minutes later we found a very well hidden group of 18 Bean and one Pink-footed. Amongst them was "7P" who I had photographed on Monday. These geese were sleeping/resting rather than feeding which might suggest this site is being used this spring as an alternative loafing site since the sandbank on the river is under water. At the field at Neskollen we had just two Beans and none at all on the fields at Horgen or on the river. So where are the other geese? Either on some of the small "hidden" fields they have taken to using or have they moved on? As usual I await for the next set of GPS data to answer dome of the questions (and raise a whole load of new ones).
The peat bog at Flakstadmåsen which is in danger of being dug up. The geese are just visible in the middle

The geese. "7P" is in the middle

We headed on towards Hedmark (home of the big owls). Along the way we encountered over 500 Whooper Swans (sangsvane) but disappointingly no Bewick’s and no geese other than Canadas.
We arrived at our Eagle Owl (hubro) site at 1730 which was an hour earlier than I expected the owls to perform. As I got my dinner out PC walked 100m from the car before running back all smiling and asking if I had seen it? He had seen it in flight along a nearby ridge. Immediately it started singing whilst nearby ridges were still bathed in sunlight!! I then saw it in flight as it moved a short distance but we couldn't relocate it and it then was silent before starting singing again at 1800. PC then picked it up as a distant silhouette in a tree top where it stayed and sang until we left 30 minutes later. The views weren’t great but it was fantastic to hear this, the largest of the owls again.

Eagle Owl!

in flight
We then headed off into the deep Hedmark forests close to the Swedish border hoping for lots of owls of all sizes! Hearing Tengmalm’s (perleugle) on our first stop was very encouraging but things fizzled out after that. We didn’t hear Ural (slagugle) at either of two known breeding sites from last year, and apart from just one more Tengmalm’s had no other owls at all which was quite a disappointment especially knowing we had a three hour drive back to Oslo. A Long-eared Owl (hornugle) flying over the road as we neared Oslo was a slight reward for our efforts.

The days oddest sight. This moose had fallen through the ice. The locals were trying to work out how to get it out

Here we see how it has stuggled through the ice before eventually coming to a halt - it was presumably scared or would have turned round?

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