Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Maridalen Hobby

Yet another good session in Maridalen today. At this time of the year I should be visiting Årnestangen more where there must be the chance of finding a rare wader however it requires quite a bit of time to make the trip there plus that I had such a good result last Wednesday that I feel any other trip out there is likely to be a disappointment. Maridalen is however right on my doorstep and knows how to please.

The family party of Red-backed Shrikes were in the same place as yesterday. The adult female has presumably already migrated south and it is left to dad to ensure the youngsters can look after themselves. The youngsters were begging for food quite loudly and would chase after dad every time they saw he had caught something but some of the young were also trying to catch their own food including by flycatching. I found no Marsh Warbler today but at the Blyth’s site some heavy pishing resulted in some tacking calls but I never saw the bird so cannot be certain what it was although suspect it was a Blyth’s.
I had an Osprey hunting over the lake and a glimpse of a probably Honey Buzzard low over some woodland although cannot rule out Goshawk.

Highlight of the day though came when I decided to go down and find out how many youngsters the Whooper Swan par still had. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that all 4 are still going strong and were nearly as large as mum although their flight feathers are not yet fully grown. All they need to do now is to work out how they can give the youngsters flying practice without their being any open water and then persuade them to make their first flight which is probably still a month away. But the swans were not the highlight - it was the bird sitting above them. A Hobby! I have complained that I have only seen this species once this year and distantly at that so it was great to get to see it well and in Maridalen. It made frequent sorties from the top of a dead spruce to catch dragonflies which seemed to be numerous here. It was unfortunately alone suggesting it was a failed breeder although it may also have been a bird in its first summer and therefore possibly a non-breeder. It kept to a very small area highlighting how difficult this species can be to locate. Many times during the day I had heard swallows giving alarm calls and had searched in vain for a raptor and the only time I had located the source of their worry was when they decided to mob the male Red-backed Shrike although I could hardly see him as being a threat. 

In the garden I hear a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker nearly every morning which is presumably the bird I photographed a couple of weeks ago and would seem to have a regular route it takes which includes a stop in our willow tree around 0730 each day. Nutcrackers are also appearing and Spotted Flycatchers are moving through.

here the Hobby (lerkefalk) has found a dragonfly which it catches in its feet and then eats on the wing

between each hunting sortie it returned to this tree top where it looked out for new a new prey item

with a dragonfly in talons

Here is a video of the Hobby of my usual hand held quality:


male Red-backed Shrike (tornskate) with begging youngter

adult male and two young

a begging youngster which made a loud whining call and quivered its wings

dad hunting

long range shot showing all four Whooper Swan (sangsvane) youngsters
here the large size of one of the youngsters can be seen although the flight feathers are not yet fully grown
the other adult (dad?) was preening and clearly moulting a lot of feathers. I wonder whether the adults are currently flightless?

I stumbled upon a number of edible snails (an introduced species I believe) in Maridalen

here James Ewen has a handful of the delicacy

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