Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Woodpeckers and ducks


Today there was at least cloud cover to begin with and I don't know whether it was this or simply the advancement of spring but there were new birds to be found today. Pre-breakfast in Maridalen had little in the way of obvious migration although three each of Teal (krikkand) and Tufted Duck (toppand) were new. The undoubted highlight was confirming that there is indeed a pair of Three-toed Woodpeckers (tretåspett) – it has taken me nearly a decade to pin these birds down! Both birds were drumming although the male was far shier than his companion of the fairer sex. The female seemed to be testing out trees for a place to excavate a nest so it will be interesting to follow their progress. Their territory overlaps with a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers (flaggspett) but interestingly this doesn't seem to be an issue.

I headed off to Svellet after delivering the youngest to kindergarten. I received a message from Rune on the way who had already been there....never-the-less it was still exciting going through the Teal flock bird by bird in good light even though I knew what to expect. I counted individually today and had 1556 Teal, 8 Wigeon (brunnakke), 7 Shoveler (skjeand) and best of all 3 Garganey (knekkand). Although the Teal flock had shrunk by over 600 birds there had clearly been some new arrivals and two Greenshank (gluttsnipe) were my first of the year.

I went through the Teal flock many times without seeing any with vertical white bars although it is also pertinent that I also managed on a couple of occasions to go through the entire flock without picking out any of the Garganey so the presence of a Green-winged Teal (amerikakrikkand) amongst the flock cannot be entirely eliminated but I feel pretty confident that there isn’t one – or not a male at least.

At nearby Merkja a Willow Warbler (løvsanger) was singing but there was also a much more exciting sound - my first Norwegian Wryneck (vendehals) of the year. Always a great bird I had expected to record my first in Maridalen but that will surely happen soon.

A message of a Ruddy Shelduck (rustand) at Østensjøvannet in Oslo failed to motivate me, in the same way as the Red-breasted Goose (rødhalsgås) of a couple of years ago, for a twitch despite this being  a potential Oslo tick. In Norway we have ended up with a practice of accepting all but the most obvious escapes into category A (unlike the UK for example). This needs reviewing as the vast majority of birds most likely come from the German introduced population plus a number of others are certain Norwegian escapees as there have been a number of proved escapes some of which have been described as "being very wary" before the rings are seen. The Oslo bird in question does not, as far as I know, have any give-away rings but judging from the pictures this bird has lost its natural wariness of mankind....[edit: the bird is ringed, but is still being ticked....]

At Snekkervika the whole bay is dry mudflats and there was consequently not much to see here. The small pond and muddy field though did have 20 Teal, 3 Common Snipe (enkeltbekkasin) and best of all a Jack Snipe (kvartbekkasin) which I failed to pick up before flushing it. I ate my lunch here in fine weather but the hoped for raptors were absent.

pair of Three-toed Woodpeckers in same shot if you can find them


male - note the firery yellow crown

what fantastic subtle plumage
Jack Snipe in flight

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