Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Back in the Dale

After the futile idiocy of yesterday’s petrol-head birding I decided to keep it very local and very slow today and reacquainted myself with Maridalen’s birdlife (although a trip to Brentetagen today would not have been such a bad idea as skuas eventually came which given the southerly winds and sun was maybe to be expected).

Migration has really slowed down but a few Yellow Wagtails (gulerle), Meadow Pipits (heipiplerke) and Wheatears (steinskvett) are definitely just passing through. I added a new species to my year list today and a species I had forgotten to mention a few days ago namely Spotted Flycatcher (gråfluesnapper). The other flycatcher, Pied (svarthvit fluesnapper) seems to be very scarce this year and I had my first in Maridalen today but there were none at three nest boxes which held birds last year. It is possibly still too early but they should be back by now.
Rarest bird was a 2cy male Marsh Harrier (sivhauk) which flew from west to east over the valley and is clearly a wandering bird. Best birding experiences though were close encounters with some of the valleys breeding species. A male Wood Warbler (bøksanger) again showed very well and this time in good light. He was singing in an area of predominantly spruce trees but there was a small open area with sunlight and a few deciduous trees and it was here he sang almost constantly whilst I was with him. I also had prolonged if uninteresting views of the Goshawk (hønsehauk) on the nest. It would be nice to see food being brought in and I did earlier see the male carry food across the valley towards the nest but I guess that before the young hatch it is only necessary for him to bring food a couple of times a day. I found a couple of feeding Long-tailed Tits (stjertmeis) and began to think that it was strange that one of them wasn’t on the nest but then realised that it was possible that they had young in the nest and were both collecting food. I followed them and eventually they led me to their nest hanging high up in a spruce tree. This is the first time I have found a nest of this species in Norway although as a spotty teenager I became quite adept at finding them in England and even wrote a note in British Birds after finding an adult which had managed to weave its own tail into the nest and needed me to free it. All the nests I found in England were low down in brambles which I assume provided protection but as brambles are not to be found around Oslo I guess height is the preferred strategy for safety here.

As if all these encounters were not enough a loud din from alarming Starlings led me to an adult Tawny Owl (kattugle) perched right next to a hole which held a brood of Starlings (stær). I guessed that a Tawny Owl hunting in the middle of the day could only mean it too had a lot of large and hungry mouths to feed and a check of a nearby nest box showed three white fluffy heads bobbing around in the opening and the other adult perched nearby. I guess they will be out of the nest within a couple of days.

Wood Warbler (bøksanger)

same bird in different light

Goshawk (hønsehauk) on nest. The picture is taken from a safe distance

Tawny Owl (kattugle) right outside a Starlings nest

one of the youngsters in the nest

the other adult who was standing guard near the nest. Note the bloody claws
no bird in this photo but can you see the Long-tailed Tits nest?
here is the Long-tailed Tit (stjertmeis) and the nest is above and to its left

Swallow (låvesvale)

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