Tuesday, 6 May 2014


As I headed into Maridalen at 0510 a brightly painted bus full of 18 year olds headed out depositing the future leaders of this country at their homes just hours before an important day of study would begin. These kids are taking part in what is frankly a completely bizarre and uniquely Norwegian tradition, or rite of passage, called Russ. In the month before the most important exams of their life these kids party all night long, dress in red dungarees, create a social acceptance for bad behaviour, use enormous amounts of money to buy buses which they decorate to express their so original (not) style and play insanely loud music from enormous sound systems on said buses in the early hours and litter (empty beer cans mostly) on an industrial scale. That 18 year olds do most of these things is universal (except perhaps the red dungarees and buying busses) but is there any other country where they go wild immediately before their exams rather than afterwards? Such strange things happen in the world’s richest country!

Today the weather forecast was spot on with rain all day but my forecast of a bird bonanza failed to materialise although there seemed to be an increase in birds during the day so maybe tomorrow will be the day.... Maridalen early on had only a female Ring Ouzel (ringtrost) to offer in the way of new migrants although I think I have found the nest hole the Wrynecks (vendehals) will use this year which is a natural hole used by Blue Tits (blåmeis) last year. Returning to Maridalen at 2pm there was a noticeable increase in birds with waders now present: 3 Wood Sandpipers (grønnstilk) resting on rocks plus overflying Greenshank (gluttsnipe) and Whimbrel (småspove). There were also some nice passerines with a Redstart (rødstjert) and Yellow Wagtail (gulerle). All the ducks from yesterday had moved on showing how each day is different in the spring. The Pink-footed Goose (kortnebbgås) is still around and will I assume spend the summer here rather than continuing to Svalbard – hope it has packed some sunscreen.

Between visiting Maridalen I went to Nordre Øyeren hoping that despite high water levels there would be waders brought down by the rain. The water level has now stabilised and there was still waders in Svellet – although there are no exposed mudbanks the water is shallow enough for them to, guess what?, wade. 169 Greenshank had the company of 2 Redshank (rødstilk) and 3 Wood Sandpipers (grønnstilk). Few ducks left although I did find single pairs of Garganey (knekkand) and Pintail (stjertand). I walked out to Årnestangen but there was little to see here other than four Little Ringed Plovers (dverglo).

I stopped at Østensjøvannet hoping that the rain would have brought down hirundines which it has but amongst good numbers of House Martins (taksvale) and Swallows (låvesvale) I could find only two Sand Martins (sandsvale) and nothing rarer.
Maridalen's first Wood Sandpiper of the year

a female Yellow Wagtail
today's obligatory Wryneck photo. This one was singing by Svellet

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