Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Maridalen raptors

Julian Bell is on the right side of the country and we had a morning out in Maridalen today. Weather conditions were very promising with overnight rain, cloud and fresh southerly winds. Waders had definitely arrived and a message from Per B who had been there since dawn reported Golden Plovers (heilo) and Whimbrel (småspove). The fields at Skjerven held Greenshank (gluttsnipe) and Wood Sandpiper (grønnstilk) and when Julian spotted a snipe in the long grass I got far too excited. Everything seemed to fit (in my mind) for Great Snipe (dobbeltbekkasin) except for the fact that we hadn’t seen any of the important ID character..?!? The bird was in an area where I felt uncomfortable to go without asking the farmer first which I did and he was more than happy for us to go out and get closer to the bird. Around the farm we had 6 Wheatear (steinskvett), 2 Whinchat (buskskvett) and a Yellow Wagtail (gulerle) and walking out towards the bird there were suddenly 3 Wood Sandpipers and in total 4 snipe! One of the snipe gave a real impression of being a Great Snipe when it flew up and both the way it flew up and impression of real size seemed perfect for Great Snipe however pictures we took showed it to be just a Common Snipe (enkeltbekkasin). This was yet again a good reminder that jizz and secondary characters can be misleading and cannot be relied upon if the main ID features are not noted.

At Kirkeby there were a good 15 Wheatears and a couple more Whinchats on the fields but t was overhead the action was happening. We had four raptors of four species and it started with a Golden Eagle (kongeørn) that Per picked up to the east, continued with a Goshawk (hønsehauk) then a Buzzard (musvåk) and finally a Peregrine (vandrefalk). The Golden Eagle was only the 3rd or 4th record in Maridalen but three of these have been at this time of the year in the last few years suggesting a regular if very small passage over the area. The Peregrine was again of the type that gets confused as Hobby (lerkefalk): a small 2cy bird (presumably a male) and showed 3 times including twice in stoops so was clearly hunting around the valley and could well be the same 2cy bird recorded a couple of times previously this spring.

There was a feel of promise in the air and I ended up shelving my plans of going to Svellet (where other reports show Greenshank have increased to 280 and a Knot (polarsnipe) is new in) but things rather fizzled out in Maridalen.

Østfold beckons tomorrow….
the days highlight - a young Golden Eagle (kongeørn) probably a 2cy
2cy male Peregrine

same bird trying to be confused as a Hobby

Common Snipe but we worked a long time with it

Wood Sandpiper (grønnstilk)

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