Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Nocturnal birds

I’ve been having late nights listening to all the amazing birds in Maridalen plus days in the field and have taken so many hundreds of photos and video that I have not been able to get round to editing things and posting on the blog but rain today has given me an excuse to sit in front of the computer.

On Monday night I had an incredible meeting with one of the two singing Corncrakes in Maridalen. It was singing very close to the road when I arrived at 23:45 and eventually showed itself briefly. That I was able to take some video and photos at that time of night is I think impressive enough so you will have to forgive the shaky cameraman. It was still going strong at 1am less than 5 metres from the road and I was able to see the grass moving as the bird moved but did not see the bird.
I have been back during daylight hoping for a repeat encounter but they have been silent during the day although at night are singing constantly. I did see one today though in a very interesting manner. I was watching a small area of open ground in the Lapwing field where there was a single adult and large young Lapwing when two birds ran out of the grass. A Corncrake was chasing a Skylark and both ran across the ground before the Skylark took flight. Quite what this was about I don’t know but could suggest that the Corncrake is breeding? PC also heard a call a couple of nights ago which matches recordings supposedly of a female.

In the video there is also an interesting call at the very beginning before the first crexes. I heard this a couple of times in the field and thought there also was an animal in the field before realising it was coming from the crake. I believe this to be the following call described in BWP: “2) Growling-mew call. Uttered by -with bill closed; somewhat like grunting squeal of young pigs, used during sexual display and aggressive encounters. Variations less frequently used; described as 'growling squeal', 'grunt and whistle', 'purring grunt and whistle'—also separate grunts and whistling sounds”.

My best ever picture of Corncrake (åkerrikse). The picture is uncropped taken at 23:44.  370mm, f/6.3, 1/6 s, ISO-6400 - amazing that it has come out so light and sharp given the light and shutter speed!
cropped version of same picture. Note the red wing


Lapwing (vipe) youngster and adult two seconds after a Corncrake ran over the mud chasing a Skylark (sanglerke)!

This year is the best ever for nocturnal birds in Maridalen although records from elsewhere in Southern Norway don’t suggest any special arrival. In addition to the Corncrakes there have been reported at least 2 Quail although birds are probably moving around so difficult to know how many, there are Marsh Warblers at 4 locations including breeding at one plus of course there is the Blyth’s Reed. We haven’t had any locustella warblers yet but there is still time (in 2012 we had both Grasshopper and River Warbler).  This video features the songs of two different Marsh Warblers plus the Blyth's Reed.

Blyth's Reed Warbler:
The Blyth's Reed Warbler (busksanger)
in full song

Note that the bird has a number of tail feathers in growth (lost them rather than moult?) and that the new ones appear to have pale tips

Marsh Warblers: 
today's new Marsh Warbler singing close to the Blyth's Reed. Here doin its best Blyth's Reed "banana posture" impression

the bird at Bakken which is a very classic looking individual


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