Friday, 12 June 2015

Struggling with Hedmark

It can be a bad idea leaving Oslo but two days in Hedmark was going to deliver me some great results (the plan).

First stop yesterday was to refind the Gyr Falcon (jaktfalk) from my last visit. I had worked out how to get up to where I saw it and it looked to be a walk that wouldn't risk my still dodgy knee too much. I came to the top and found the stone where I had pictured the bird. There was some droppings and pellets but not much so this stone clearly was not used that much. I stayed for 2 hours but had no sight nor sound of the bird nor could I see any possible nest site so it looks like the bird I saw was just resting there and once at the top I realised that there were plenty of other suitable looking escarpments in the area. Well that was a real shame but my knee survived and I had good views of a male Ring Ouzel which also sang a bit. When I got to the top I took my camera out of my backpack and turned it on to get the settings just right for flight photography but nothing happened. I put a new battery in still nothing. Was the camera broken? No but the SD card cover was not closed properly but hang on there was no card. Not again!!! How idiotic can I be? Luckily this time I did have a spare card with me but it was full and I had to spend time deleting loads of pictures.

Could anything worse happen? Oh yes most definitely. My plan for the end of the day was to sleep at Nekmyrene where I would awake to lekking Ruff, displaying Broad-billed Sandpipers and Red-necked Phalaropes. After a looong drive there I discovered the road was still not open. A call to phone number at the barrier revealed it was to be opened at 4pm TOMORROW. This spring really is late.

What to do? I had been driving all day was tired and had hardly seen a bird. I decided to head to a mountain road over the border in Oppland county which I knew would be open and where 5 years ago I had seen Red-necked Phalaropes (svømmesnipe). And at 2125 my day was saved. Feast your eyes on these pictures taken in the evening sun.

female (the more colourful sex) Red-necked Phalarope (svømmesnipe)
the male - slightly less colourful
male again
and the female again

After 5 hours sleep in the car I awoke to a cloudy sky and the phalaropes on the water outside my bedroom window.  A couple of hours in the area revealed 7 or maybe even 9 phalaropes which is a good sized colony for a species that seems to be getting harder to find. They are an incredibly confiding species and again allowed themselves to be photographed at very close range – I took so many acceptable photos and video that they will warrant their own post later. Singing Lapland Bunting and Bluethroat were a joy to behold and Whimbrel, Wood Sandpiper, Golden Plover and Common Scoter were also in the area. A single Kestrel was the only raptor I saw although there was a very pale hungry fox being mobbed by Redshanks and a Whimbrel chased away a Crow and a Crow chased sway a Raven. So predators are around and in a year with little or no lemmings it is baby birds that will be eaten.

After all this excitement I went looking for Siberian Tits (lappmeis). This species has a very small population in Mid/Southern Norway and there is very little information or published records of these birds. This was my fifth attempt over the years and was doomed to end like all the others. I did have Willow, Great and Crested Tits but nothing from Siberia. I wonder if climate change is affecting this relic outlying population and they are perhaps losing out to the other tits who may be increasing in numbers.

I drove a lot these two days but fantastic scenery and the Red-necked Phalaropes made it all worthwhile.

male Bluethroat (blåsturpe)

male Lapland Bunting (lappspurv)

House Martin prospecting a nest site at 1011m

Merlin (dvergfalk)

male Ring Ouzel (ringtrost)

the mountains of Rondane

still ice on the lakes at 1050m

Whimbrel (småspove) by he hotel

angry Whimbrel

Willow Tits (granmeis) were common where I had hoped to find Siberian Tit

A selfie of the Oslobirder leaning against the stone where the Gyr Falcon was sat a couple of weeks ago

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