Thursday, 16 April 2015

Oslo twitching

Just before 6pm yesterday Oslo was hit by an unforecast (seems often to be the way) thunderstorm that deposited 2cm of hail. I went up to Maridalen hoping that some wildfowl had been forced down. A doubling of Red-Throated Divers (smålom) from 2 to 4 was the only change from the morning though. When I drove in I saw a birder who I didn't recognise at Skjerven farm watching the geese and he was still there when I drove out 15 minutes later. Quite a long time to be watching the geese I thought and considered stopping in case he had found a Bean Goose (sædgås) or something else of interest but I decided not to as I had to get home. Imagine my distinct frustration when I later saw that he had been watching a Black Redstart (svartrødstjert) which is a new species for Maridalen. Even though I felt frustrated yesterday I can only imagine the frustration of two of Norway’s most eminent "County Year Tick” listers who were both independently in Telemark yesterday and must have unknowingly driven within spitting distance of an ultra-rare Penduline Tit (pungmeis), news of which broke mid-afternoon. "County Year Ticks" which is simply the sum of species seen in each county is a list automatically published on the national reporting system and has encouraged a niche activity amongst a handful of petrol head listers - an owner of an E-Golf would never do well here ;-). Obviously visiting as many counties as many times as possible without concern for carbon footprint is the key to success here and living in or close to Oslo gives a distinct advantage as there are more counties within an hour or so driving range so the competition is not played on a level playing field ;-)

Keen to overcome my own frustration I headed up into Maridalen this morning thinking there was a slim chance that blackie was still going to be there. I really struggled to find the object of my desires and drew a blank when I looked on my way into the valley but it eventually showed on my way out. It was exactly where it was seen yesterday evening but seemed to have a feeding circuit and would disappear for long periods before popping up again. A female coloured bird it could conceivably be a 2cy male but it has a very distinct wite wing panel. This is a feature of adult males - young males lack this and females should only show an indistinct wing panel. The extent of this birds wing panel suggests it is maybe an old female which in many species can have more advanced plumages. Its favoured area was where slurry from the farm animals was congregating and this area was also popular with a couple of Robins (rødstrupe) and White Wagtails (linerle) although the later didn't like to share and kept chasing blackie away.
The Pink-feets (kortnebbgås) were still on the fields but otherwise Maridalen was very quiet with far fewer thrushes. I did have a Maridalen first though although only a behavioural one with yesterday’s GC Grebe (toppdykker) now having company and they were displaying. These birds are most likely on migration but if not would be a most welcome addition to the breeding birds of the valley.

My attempt for the Bean Goose that was found yesterday at Bygdøy was less successful. Although seen earlier in the morning by the time I arrived there were some people working on the fields and the Greylag Geese it was with were not to be seen either so presumably had been disturbed. Whilst searching for this I got a message from Rune that he was in Maridalen and was watching a Great Grey Shrike (varsler) so I headed back there again and didn’t see that either. No wonder I don’t like twitching and this was only my own little version of County Year Tick listing although with me there is of course only one County that counts, namely Oslo. So I tried to Oslo Year Twitch three species today and achieved one – I should stick to patch birding!

Black Redstart (svartrødstjert) - female plumaged but is such a prominent white wing panel normal for a female? It is also not normal for a young male so perhaps this is an old female?

the white wing panel is formed by one mostly wite tertial feather plus white tips to secondaries

barely visible but with the Oslobirdermobile in the background

displaying Great Crested Grebes in Maridalen - a first?

adult male Goshawk (hønsehauk) - today's only raptor


Two of the 28 Pink-footed Geese (kortnebbgås) still on the fields at Skjervan

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