The last couple of days I have been a bit under the weather with today a nasty stomach adding to the previous days cold. I wasn’t really up to anything other than lying on the sofa but when the sun shone through at 11am I decided that this was an opportunity not to pass up as we approach the shortest day of the year and the limited birding opportunities at this time.
I headed therefore for the Botanical Gardens hoping for some nice photo ops but also hoping for something a bit unusual – Pine Grosbeak (konglebit) or Two-barred Crossbill (båndkorsnebb) being foremost in my mind.
I wasn’t the only person hoping to take advantage of the sun and there were four others in addition to me but whilst their main focus was pictures I was also keen to check out the whole park for something new. There were at least 7 Hawfinches (kjernebiter) and 5 Waxwings, a Brambling and still lots of Fieldfares. As I was walking around I first heard a short crossbill call and then a trumpet call – Two-barred Crossbill!! A group of birds quickly came into view as they flew into the top of a larch tree and those wing bars were not possible to miss. There were at least four birds but there were also Greenfinches (grønnfink), Goldfinches (stillits) and Siskins (grønnsisik) feeding in the same tree which made it difficult to confirm whether this was the total or whether there was a fifth individual which I suspected.
This species is very rare in Oslo although the group that stayed most of last winter at the same location means that it is a species that every self respecting Oslo birdwatcher now has good knowledge of. The group last year were all young birds and fed occasionally in larch trees but most often in berry trees where they were not interested in the fruit but the kernel/seed inside. Last years group which was first seen at the end of November initially contained three males and two females but the last records from the middle of January were just of a single female. Even though it was my theory that the birds were falling victim to a Sparrowhawk they could of course have moved off and there is therefore the possibility that at least some of the group today are the same birds as last winter. We’ll never know of course but the male today was an adult male which does at least not rule out the same bird theory.