Friday, 31 October 2014

Østensjøvannet & Pintails

I thought I’d try out Østensjøvannet today as it still seems to have good numbers of waterfowl and the reedbeds here are also a potential spot for Bearded Tits. Waterfowl were there without doubt still lots of and if the lake remains ice free then they could stay here for a number of more weeks. A total of 42 Mute Swans (knoppsvane) was a notable increase over the breeding population so there has obviously been an influx from other localities and the birds seemed to be getting on well although a couple of the local males were swimming around with their wings raised trying to look menacing. Also three adult Whooper Swans (sangsvane) were clear immigrants.

Goose numbers are well down with Canada Goose now the most numerous which was not the case 3 weeks ago.

47 Wigeon (brunnakke) was an impressive count for Oslo and it was interesting that none of the males is yet in full breeding plumage. A single female Shoveler (skjeand) showed briefly but I couldn’t find any Little Grebes (dvergdykker) although there were 10 Great Crested Grebes (toppdykker), two of which were displaying. There were two Pintails (stjertand) present. One was a male in nearly full plumage. Interestingly this bird lacks the long tail that one normally sees in males exactly as the bird that overwintered last year. I had assumed that last years bird was a 1cy but assuming this is the same individual it may be that this bird is slightly abnormal which would also explain why it would choose to overwinter here and eat bread whilst its kin are flying as far as North Africa for the winter. The other Pintail was with the hand fed Mallards (stokkand) under the bridge exactly where I had another bird three weeks ago. This bird was in female plumage and the single coloured bill also showed it to be a female. I remembered that the bird from three weeks ago was also in female plumage but that due to a two toned bill I had concluded it was a young male. Now I began to doubt myself. However on checking my pictures it is clear that the two bird theory is correct and that first a male and now a female Pintail are hanging out in exactly the same place.

Male Pintail (left) from 3 weeks ago and Female Pintail (right) from today. Despite both birds being in similar female plumage not the male has a distint two toned bill and grey scapular feathers
Quite a bit of work has been done over the last few years at Østensjøvannet to remove bushes and restore areas that were originally marshy which has included having cattle here in the summer to graze down the vegetation. The area where the cattle have been has been name Snipe Marsh (Bekkasinmyra) although I have always doubted its attraction for the said species. Today however with the cattle gone and the electric fence taken down I walked through this wet field and guess what two Common (enkeltbekkasin) and more excitingly one Jack Snipe (kvartbekkasin) flew up with in usual fashion the Jack flying up just a metre in front of me!

Surprise, surprise no Bearded Tits though.

short-tailed male Pintail

the female Pintail

all in a flap

Great Crested Grebe

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