BIRD GUIDING AROUND OSLO

Monday, 11 May 2015

Norwegian comedy or should I say tradegy

Nature conservation in Norway is a joke but not one you laugh along with but rather cry at. The system is built up such that it is very difficult for private individuals or organisations to do anything proactive so apart from a handful of small scale but very commendable initiatives (such as that at Kjelle School) it is National and Local Government that is responsible for nature conservation and nature reserves. I don’t think the issue is lack of money but rather lack of political will and lack of knowledge. Let us take wetlands and one particular area, Svellet, as an example. Svellet is part of Nordre Øyeren which is designated a nature reserve and also one of Norway’s five national Wetland Centres. The nature reserve part means that a line has been drawn on a map and inside that red line the words nature reserve have been written and as far as I can see that is it. The National Wetland Centre bit means that a lot of tax money has been spent on building a fantastic visitor centre with great exhibitions and paid staff. I was there yesterday with the family as there were activities to mark the fact that it was World Migratory Bird Day. The kids were able to play a clever interactive game which taught them the perils that birds go through on their annual migrations and how many die along the way. For the adults there was a presentation about the importance of Nordre Øyeren for migrating birds.

At the same time all this fantastic work was going an appalling, almost criminal, but state sanctioned act was occurring right outside the Visitor Centre. The water level was being intentionally raised through closing the sluices at the outflow of Øyeren and has gone up by around a metre in less than a week. Yesterday evening there were ca.1000 waders Svellet frantically feeding on the last area of mud and this morning I found only 7 - SEVEN. So what happens to all those waders that rely on Svellet on their migration? Presumably many do not manage to feed up as much as they had hoped before breeding which will have an effect on their breeding success.

ISN’T IT SO IRONIC that two different government sponsored organisations can have so different priorities! Now why do you think the water level is being purposely raised? Well in the Government approved management plan for Nordre Øyeren it has been signed into law that by 15 May the water level will be “normal” which means full. Why? To take into account the basic human rights of a group of Boat People. But these are not the type of Boat People who are refugees from Syria or Vietnam but rather the owners of leisure boats. I have never ever noticed more than a handful of boats on the water in the summer but these few people clearly have enormous political clout.

I’m normally a calm kind of person but this makes me so mad.

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I’ve taken my pills and calmed down now so can write a more normal blog entry J
I had stopped feeding the birds in the garden a few weeks ago when I ran out of food but got the feeling I had stopped too early and bought some more food a couple of day ago. Since then there has been a lot of birds in the garden and they are eating more than in the middle of the winter. Today I got real payback when I saw a male Hawfinch (kjernebiter) on the feeders. Now this isn’t that scarce a species anymore and regularly flies over the house with a couple of birds even perching in a tree in the garden once but this is the very first time I have a bird on the feeders. I even managed a picture but as it was through two panes of 80 year old glass it isn’t crystal sharp-

As my tirade above reveals I went to Svellet this morning to see nothing but decided to walk out to Årnestangen as there were still some mud banks there. After walking 45 minutes out to the end it became clear that the mud flats were actually just dry sand and completely devoid of waders. However, I wasn’t just going to turn around immediately so sat down and waited and did have some waders flying over but none stopped. Amongst them were 2 Dunlin (myrsnipe) and a Temminck’s Stint (temmincksnipe). There were a few ducks including a surprisingly high count of 130 Wigeon (brunnakke) but a pair of Pintail (stjertand) was the best I could find amongst them. A Great Snipe (dobbeltbekkasin) “sang” very briefly from the long grass near the observation point and I flushed a Short-eared Owl (jordugle) which promptly vanished behind some trees but I didn’t feel that I got payback for the walk out especially as I also had drizzle and southerly winds which could have pushed down some birds. Over the water an enormous count of 110 Common Terns (makrellterne) were feeding often in tight groups above a couple of feeding Cormorants (storskarv) but here again I failed to find anything interesting.

I had seen very few hirundines during the day but stopping to fill up with petrol I had my first Swift (tårnseiler) of the year seemingly inspecting for nest sites.

male Hawfinch (kjernebiter) through the kitchen window

 
some of todays Common Terns (makrellterne)
 
 

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