Thursday, 18 June 2015

Grasshopper Warbler

Last night I took a premidnight trip into Maridalen and heard the singing Blyth’s Reed Warbler which started singing at 2330, a Quail and only one Corncrake. I had gone up early hoping to have another chance for photos but the bird was singing in the middle of a field and was too far away to hope for anything. As I have noted before the song of Corncrake echoes very well and this time it was echoing off a farmhouse 200 metres away and making it sound like there were two birds singing.

 Today I played away from home again and visited Sørkedalen where Kjetil Johannessen found a singing Grasshopper Warbler there on Saturday night. I paid a visit on Monday night just before 11pm and didn’t hear it. I knew I may have been there a bit early but as a couple of Marsh Warblers were singing and not the Grasshopper I only waited 15 minutes before concluding it had left and was half expecting to refind it in Maridalen which was my next stop.
No other have reported this bird until it was again heard last night so I went up there this morning. It was cloudy with some rain in the air but the two Marsh Warblers were singing loudly when I arrived and I positioned myself in the middle of an area of nettles and raspberry plants which I assumed would be its favoured area and waited. I first saw it in the undergrowth before it started singing and it then showed really well and probably gave me my best ever views of this normally skulky species.

A Common Rosefinch and Whinchat also sang in the area and a couple of Mistle Thrushes were a bit out of habitat and the rattling contact call had me briefly thinking I had heard a snatch of song from a River Warbler. I decided to try to see if I could some better pictures of Marsh Warbler than I usually manage as one of the birds was singing close to the path. There were two birds moving around in the raspberry plants and I assumed it was a pair. The singing bird was very skulkly but the other bird perched up and I fired off a load of pictures. Through the view finder I thought how with its white throat it could actually be possible to confuse Marsh Warbler with Whitethroat. Whilst I was reflecting over this I looked at the rest of the bird’s plumage and realised I had done just that – I was taking pictures of a female Whitethroat!

 After pulling myself together I visited Oslo’s only nesting colony of Sand Martins. I have once before suspected breeding somewhere in Maridalen but Sørkedalen seems to have breeding every year. This year they are breeding in a sand quarry and there were at least 40 holes although I never saw more than 9 birds at one time and only 5 holes being visited. In one hole the adults were still excavating and were removing dried grass (how did this get there?) whilst I could hear a calling bird from another hole which I reckon was an adult although could I guess have been young. Photo opportunities here must be very good although it was too dark today for flight photos.
singing Grasshopper Warbler


note the long rounded tail typical of locustella warblers


singing in the rain

the Whitethroat (tornsanger) which I initially took to be a Marsh Warbler

the Sand Martin colony. There are also some holes right at the top but these were not visited when I was there

this bird was removing straw and a feather - had another species used the cavity?
a flight shot of sorts

I'm not sure if these two had thought to mate but they didn't succeed when I was watching

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