Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Oslo wader bonanza

Now, everything is relative so please do not get disappointed when you read this post if you think that the title could possibly refer to more than 30 waders of 7 species.

The tiny county of Oslo (therefore excluding all the good localities close by in Akershus) does not have an abundance of wader locations, in fact there is only really one that is semi-reliable: Gressholmen.
Maridalsvannet has had its moments especially a few years ago when work on the dam resulted in low water levels in May and a good selection of waders. Gressholmen though is an island just offshore of the city centre and holds a shallow, muddy tidal bay. It has held a number of species over the years but is unpredictable and this combined with the necessary boat trip means that I have only made the trip a handful of times and have never connected with anything better than a couple of Greenshank (gluttsnipe) plus Oslo's only pair of breeding Ringed Plover (sandlo).

Today though was different. Yesterday’s sightings at Kurefjorden made it clear there is a good passage at the moment although today's blue skies were not the best for grounding waders so I was not sure what was in store for me. On the boat ride out we were passed by Cunard’s enormous cruise ship Queen Elizabeth which totally dwarfed the Oslo waterfront.

So what did I see? Well I can start with an Oslo tick in the form of a Bar-tailed Godwit (lappspove) which along with Dunlin (myrsnipe) was my hoped for species today. Dunlin will have to continue as a glaring omission on my Oslo list but I will get my hands on you one day (I’m considering blowing a hole in the dam at Maridalsvannet in July....).

The barwit had the company of 4 Redshank (rødstilk), 6 Greenshank (gluttsnipe), 6 Whimbrel (småspove), 9 Oystercatchers (tjeld), 2 Common Sandpipers (strandsnipe) and the nesting pair of Ringed Plover.
A female, the barwit was not a particularly exciting bird to look at but alone made the trip worthwhile. There was plenty more to see though so much so that I didn't even feel guilty for cheating on Mari.

A Redstart (rødstjert) sang nearly constantly from a tree top (this spring seems particularly good for Redstarts) plus Lesser Redpolls (brunsisik) were flying around singing all the time (I have never noticed so many as I have this year), Wheatears (steinskvett) were singing and inspecting nest sites, 3 Whitethroats (tornsanger) and a Lesser Whitethroat (møller) sang and a few Blackcaps (munk) were also singing or at least all the ones I saw were Blackcaps but my ears can't rule out that my first Garden Warbler (hagesanger) of the year was among them.

Over the fjord there were 20+ Common Terns (makrellterne), a lost summer plumaged Guillemot (lomvi) sat on the sea and a flock of 10 Red-throated Divers (smålom) flew around at some height seemingly unsure of where to go next now that there was no more sea to see.

Prize for the days a**hole goes to a dog walker. He let his dog off the lead when he stepped on to land and when I checked the Nature Reserve sign it confirmed what I had assumed namely that dogs had to be on leads. I pointed this out to the man as politely as I could (but the fact I had already mentally labelled him an a**hole might mean in relative terms I was not actually SO polite). His answer was that yes he knew of the law and it was because dogs might disturb animals or birds or eat their eggs but that his dog would never do that. When I sarcastically told him that I also chose which laws to follow and therefore don't pay taxes his reply was that he most certainly did. Jerk!

Oslo tick! Fmale Bar-tailed Godwit (lappspove)

here with Oystercatcher (tjeld)

Common Tern (makrellterne) and reflection

Cunard's Quenn Elizabeth suddenly becomes Oslo's largest building

the  migrating lock of 10 Red-throated Divers

singing male Redstart (rødstjert)

trying to to be a bit arty

the female Ringed Plover (sandlot) trying to lead me away from her nest

her on the nest and the contents of the nest

the male (note the broader and blacker breast band) did not do very much other than watch proceedings

male Wheatear (steinskvett)

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