Monday, 8 June 2015

Outrageous Oslo

Thanks to a generous and confidential tip I found myself enjoying one of those fantastic days that Oslo occasionally offers up and incredibly enough it was not in Maridalen. There is a valley to the east of Maridalen which in terms of physical size is definitely its big brother but in terms of birding has, for me at least, always been the younger brother. There is only one species that I can remember having seen in Sørkedalen and not in Maridalen and that is last years Red-breasted Flycatcher (dvergfluesnapper) although my Red Kite (glente) in Maridalen is only a result of it having been first seen in Sørkedalen and a phone call from the finder, Kjetil Johannessen, alerted to me to the fact that it was on its way.

The species I was tipped off about was yet again a Red-breasted Fly and this time a pair. It does in fact seem that this species is about to establish itself as a regular breeder around Oslo and may be more regular than the few records suggest and Sørkedalen definitely seems to have an attraction for the species. I would never have found these birds if I did not know exactly where to look as during the course of 90 minutes I only heard the male sing three times and each time was just quiet and very sort. The male though did show very well feeding mostly high up in the trees but occasionally low down and was using a very small area. The female appeared with him only twice high up in the canopy and both times just disappeared very quickly. This behaviour suggests strongly that she is on eggs. There were a couple of nest boxes in the males feeding route but these were not being used however the area had many woodpecker holes so I expect a natural nest site is being used. Where they were was a great habitat with Great Spotted Woodpecker, Black Woodpecker, Hawfinch, Common Rosefinch and Spotted Flycatcher also to be seen or heard. There were also a lot of mosquitos – I suddenly realised that I have not been bothered by them so far this year and that is the one positive side effect of the cold May (reports suggest many tit broods have died in the nest).

Although the male sang only the three times he frequently shivered his tail showing off the white feathers which I took to be some sort of territorial behaviour although I don’t know who it was aimed at although he did a couple of times get annoyed with a Spotted Fly.

After this I checked a few other sites in Sørkedalen and had some great scarce breeders. I finally found a pair of Red-backed Shrikes which look to be on breeding territory and whilst watching these I had great views of a Wryneck which also was on territory. I heard only my second Lesser Spotted Woodpecker of the year but like my other record I did not see the bird. There is a general lack of records and I think something has happened to this species. That I then did get to see a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker drumming at another site in Sørkedalen a bit later does not make me think that I have just been unlucky with this species as this male appeared to be alone which is not good so late in the breeding season. Common Rosefinches were “everywhere” and I heard at least 8 singing birds in the valley and also saw a couple of females in the company of males.  Along with birds like Icterine Warbler, Pied Flycatcher, Nutcracker, displaying Common Snipe and my first Oslo Common Crossbills for the year then Sørkedalen definitely delivered the goods. I’ll have to see if Maridalen can match this with a trip tomorrow. The only birds missing today were raptors – there are plenty of places where one gets good views over vast areas of forest and I had expected Honey Buzzard or Hobby but they were not to be seen.
male Red-breasted Flycatcher (dvergfluesnapper)


with a caterpillar

the female - honestly

pair of Red-backed Shrikes (tornskate)
the male

Wryneck (vendehals)

action shot - quite happy with that one!

male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (dvergspett) in natural habitat

its chosen drumming post was not so aesthetically pleasing though

I had a couple of family groups of Nuthatches (spettmeis) today

Oslo University has put up hundreds of nest boxes in Sørkedalen where they have various research projects. This male Pied Flycatcher (svarthivt fluesnapper) is presumably ringed as a part of ones of these projects

I saw a number of red males but only managed a picture of this female Common Rosefinch (rosenfink)

male Whinchat (buskskvett)


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