Thursday, 4 June 2015

Taking it slow gives results

A relaxing day took me first to Sørkedalen where I hoped for Red-backed Shrike (tornskate) but failed on that score (seems like a very bad year for this species) and I also failed to find Red-breasted Flycatcher (dvergfluesnapper) at last year’s site. Rosefinches (rosenfink) were very obvious though and a few stops gave me 5 singing males with the three I saw all being brown 2cy birds. I know of only one field in Sørkedalen with breeding Lapwings (vipe) and when I arrived I was alarmed to see that the field had recently been sewn which can result in destroyed nests or young. Surprisingly though there was still a pair of Lapwings with 4 half-grown young which I assume had hatched before the field was ploughed and sewn. In 2012 ago I had 5 pairs and 12 young here – yet another example of how seriously Lawings are declining. In Maridalen I saw that the female with four young still has at least three young (yesterday I only saw one) and a pair that had one small youngster yesterday just flew off when I approached whereas the female with young did her best to scare me off suggesting that the pair has lost their young although in the high grass it is nearly impossible to know what is going on and the presence of adults flying over other areas of the field points to there still be other broods going strong).

I went out to check on the nesting Whooper Swans (sangsvane) in Maridalen who I have previously only viewed from a distance. I was delighted to see that three young have hatched almost certainly in the last 24 hours. They were still in the nest and protected under mum’s wing who was I think still brooding other unhatched eggs. Whilst I was watching dad was building up the nest (men always have to do some practical in these emotional moments) but no matter how good the parents are I think they will have done amazingly well if the brood fledges by the end of the summer. Given that incubation is around 35 days then these birds have clearly been here a long time (the nest itself must have taken a few days to build) and my assumption that they were the pair I saw on Maridalsvannet 18 May is probably wrong as they should have had a full clutch of eggs in the nest by that date and would unlikely have left them unattended although they could of course have been temporarily scared away from the nest.

I spent an hour looking for a raptors from a suitable watchpoint in Maridalen and with a 'scope today. I had hoped to finally see a Hobby (lerkefalk) this year but despite lots of food in the form of Swifts I failed to see one. After the spate of dodgy reports in early April there has been a real dearth of reports in May when the species should be returning. Whether this is a result of a delayed return (or possibly no return at all) due to the cold May or that Hobby has become a "hidden" species in the new version of ArtsObs I'm not sure but I think it is most likely that there are far fewer this year.

Now that I've mentioned Artsobs v.2 I may as well get off my chest all my thoughts on this topic: What a monumental disappointment it is!!! I have in a work context witnessed bad systems implementations e.g. SAP but this is beats them all. The new version has been just around the corner for 2-3 years and was used as an excuse for not implementing necessary improvements to the previous version so there has been enough time to ensure a good implementation. The upgrade also happened after a similar upgrade to the equivalent system in Sweden so there was also an opportunity for learnings to have been taken. That v.2 has been at least 2 years in the coming and a beta system was apparently used for testing by some people it is amazing at how many things can be wrong. What exactly was tested? OK let’s not dwell on the past and focus on what is being done to fix things. Well to be honest not much as far as a user is concerned and that includes implementation of completely necessary fixes. For over four weeks information on breeding sites of previously "hidden/protected" raptors has been available for everyone whereas other sightings are being unnecessarily "hidden" and despite this apparently having top-most priority it can't be fixed.... People are losing faith in and patience with the system and as a result are using it less. I am waiting for some heads to roll past me soon and if things carry on like this I may have to use the system that cannot be named… (I’ve recently watched all the Harry Potter films…)

I had one unidentified bird today that has me feeling I missed something rare. I heard a trilling call that had me thinking Linnet for a bit but I quickly discounted this before seeing the bird in flight from behind. It seemed to be a large finch or bunting and possibly dark green in colour. I've no ideas but the call was so different!
After the birding part of the day was finished I had two good sightings. First, after collecting from school I had a singing Rosefinch in the garden. It was frustratingly difficult to see hang around the area and five hours later just after 9pm it was singing in the garden again and I managed some pictures of a grotty 2cy bird. Then in the evening whilst watching my daughters playing back to back football games and both winning (which I had always thoughts would be an even rarer event than me finding a first for Norway) I finally saw my first Hobby (lerkefalk) of the year with a bird scything over Tøyen.
the male Lapwing (vipe) of the pair in Sørkedalen posed very nicely!
his missus with two of their four half grow young

it was blowing a bit and the hair got blow about a bit

what a quiff!
the good mum in Maridalen with one of three remaining young

the garden Rosefinch (rosenfink)

another 2cy male Rosefinch from Sørkedalen

and yet another

The Whooper Swan (sangsvane) family showing off three youngsters

mum uses her wings to protect them

about to disappear from view

the pond is quite small

this youngster popped out for a stretch
dad needed to make himself useful by adding to the already large nest

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