Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Chiffy chaffs

For the first time in living memory the sun shone in Oslo today and people were literally throwing their clothes off.

A trip out to Huk, Bygdøy to try, again, to find the White-billed Diver (gulnebblom) failed, again, in that respect. The refugees were still present though this time feeding in a fenced off garden by the nudist beach. Walking across a nudist beach with binoculars and camera feels a bit on the uncomfortable side but at the end of November in Oslo there shouldn’t be too many naturists to worry about, should there? Well the weather had brought them out today but we managed to avoid any confrontation. The refugees looked very comfortable in the garden and I feared that I was going to see someone appear and start throwing corn to his pets but luckily that didn’t occur......

Walking around Bygdøy was a relatively birdless experience until I arrived at the small marsh and reedbed at Hengsenga. I had a vain hope of finding Bearded Tit (skjeggmeis) or a Jack Snipe (kvartbekkasin) but that hope was indeed in vain. As I was leaving though a Chiffchaff (gransanger) called probably my latest ever in Norway. It was a fairly typical call and when I found the bird it looked fairly “normal” with green hues. I played the call of Chiffchaff at some distance which didn’t seem to invoke any interest and then moved closer and played the song which caused the bird to come very close in the dead grass (although remain silent). I then played the call of Siberian Chiffchaff which the bird wasn’t interested in and then the call of the eastern abietinus race of Chiffchaff which again brought the bird in close. So the bird may well be abietinus but then again what is actually abietinus? The literature doesn’t seem clear to me and with recent research possibly even questioning the validity of the form. The recording of the call of abietinus that I have is to my ears pretty similar to our normal Chiffchaffs so I don’t really know how one goes about IDing abietinus in the field anyway.

Whilst working on this bird a couple of Wrens (gjerdesmett) started making a noise and as I looked at them I saw another Chiffchaff. This was a much browner, colder coloured bird with really contrasting jet black legs and bill. It didn’t call and also did not respond in any way to any of the calls I played. It was much more difficult to take photos of this bird but it did eventually call a few times and the call was the classic chicken call of a Siberian Chiffcaff tristis which confirmed what I had assumed from the birds plumage. Would have been nicer with something with wingbars though...

(Siberian) Chiffchaff tristis

the pictures are poor but here you can just make out the brown tinge to the cheek

a more normal Chiffchaff with green hues

note especially the green on the breast at the bend of the wing

the sort primary projection typical of a Chiffchaff

refugee enjoying the sun

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