On Monday and Tuesday I had the company of my old birding mate Will who I have known since our days in the Cambridge University Bird Club and subsequent birding trips to Eilat, Spain and Tunisia. Will had used Finnature whilst on a family holiday last year to Finland and at a cost of €220 pp (begins to be quite a lot for a family of 4....) had seen a few species but not Hawkie or the Great Grey. Well I course can help with that and am a heck of lot cheaper - even before friends discount ;-)
During the course of 26 hours (including 5 hours sleep in the car) with pick-up and delivery at Oslo airport we saw a pair of Great Grey Owls delivering food to two young, a pair of Hawk Owls with four young, Siberian Jay, Rough-legged Buzzard, Three-toed and Black Woodpeckers, Ortolan and Rustic Buntings , Red-backed and Great Grey Shrikes and Marsh Warbler plus loads of other typical Scandinavian birds. Now don't try telling me that isn't a good trip!!
PLEASE CONTACT ME IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE THESE SPECIES and would prefer a short and easy trip to Oslo rather than making your way up to the north of Finland.
The owls were the main target and undoubted highlight of the trip especially as we got close and saw real action. "My" Great Greys turned out to be not as exclusive as I hoped as there was a Norwegian and a Dutch photographer already there when we arrived plus at least one of the youngsters carried a metal foot ring so they are clearly one of the “known” pairs. Between 2030 and 2130 we watched the adults come in four times to deliver voles to the youngsters who were sitting together only 20m from us. The birds seem unaffected by our presence and the youngsters made a real racket begging for food such that they would make an easy target for a Goshawk but that is the risk that they run when their strategy is to make so much noise that their parents keep bringing them food to shut them up.
The three food deliveries we saw (the fourth occurred as we were leaving the area) all went to the same youngster which seemed to be poor parenting and the other one started really screaming for food. When we went back the next morning the youngsters were in the same place but the one who hadn't received any food was lying down on the branch and we initially thought it to be an ex owl but it soon became apparent he was just sleeping in the heat of the day as was an adult nearby who could hardly keep its eyes open. The youngsters looked far from capable of long flight but a search of the area failed to find the nest within a ca.120 m radius so they are clearly, as I also experienced at the other nest and with the Tawny Owls, able to move relatively long distances despite not being fully able to fly.
The Hawk Owls that we saw initially eluded us but as we walked a circle around the nesting area we found them just metres from our start point. They started hissing at us before we saw them and then we came across two angry adults and four young of various sizes all of which could fly, and perhaps most importantly land, capably over short distances at least.
We had some good luck with the Siberian Jays who appeared from nowhere as we investigated a roadside nest box and then as we watched them a Three-toed Woodpecker flew into view.
An unforgettable trip!
I have a lot of video and pictures to process so will decorate this post with a few (well OK rather a lot) of the best pics and come back with more at a later date.
I'll start with the non owl pics first....
|Siberian Jay (lavskrike)|
|male Rustic Bunting (vierspurv) with food for young|
|male Ortolan Bunting (hortulan)|
|female Three-toed Woodpecker (tretåspett)|
|male Red-backled Shrike (tornskate) and spiders web|
And now for some owls, with the big grey one first
|give me some food NOW! Great Grey Owl youngster. Great enough to have moved at least 120m from the nest but far from great enough to fend for itself|
|one of the parents with a vole|
|the lower youngster carries a visible ring|
|food being delivered|
|food being devoured|
|having a mid morning nap|
|youngsters are just as addictive as the adults|
|young Hawk Owl|
|adult Hawk Owl|
|Hawk Owl babies can also scream for food|
|its never to early to leanr how to sit on a telegraph pole which is the natural habitat for this species|