Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Now we're talking!

What a day or more precisely morning. With rain in the air I reckoned there would be payback for the long walk out to Årnestangen and this time those birds they really did cooperate! Nothing rare but plenty of scarce and exciting birds and everything made easier by good light that meant that I could grill birds with the scope in all directions and at distance.

There were so many exciting avian encounters that it is difficult to rank them but seeing and photographing Red-throated Pipit (lappiplerke) on the deck for the first time in Akershus must take the crown after my moaning about this species in my post from last week. A bird flew around the observation platform calling and as I watched and prayed it landed on the raised walkway just 30 metres away – talk about luck! I also saw and heard at least one more individual in flight

Raptors put on a great display for me with 9 species in total. There were three Marsh Harriers: an adult male that was trying to pick up a dead creature (not sure if bird or fish) out of the thick weed out in the water, an adult female that was on view almost continually and a smart and fresh juvenile that made a fly by.
A juvenile (and therefore new bird from last week) Hen Harrier was also nearly continuously on view and often together with the adult female Marsh Harrier where the size difference was extreme and had me wondering if it was something rarer but no it was “just” a Hen and most likely a small male whereas the Marsh was clearly a very large female. Watching a distant harrier in the scope and trying to ascertain key features such as number of fingers is, for me, very difficult and I do often wonder how other people can note so much detail when they write descriptions especially on birds seen for just a few seconds.

A small (male) juvenile Goshawk sat in some branches out in the water for a long period and tried the same tactic as the male Marsh Harrier to try to pull a dead something out of the pond weed but like the harrier failed.
A juvenile Merlin frequently buzzed the waders including birds as large as Golden Plover and a juvenile Peregrine sat out on the sandbanks probably digesting breakfast. Add to this distant Kestrel and Honey Buzzard plus a Common Buzzard on the approach road gave a great raptor day. No Ospreys is a clear sign of the approach of autumn.

Waterfowl didn’t disappoint either with a group of 3 Garganey, 2 Shoveler and a high count of 133 Pochards being the spice alongside hundreds of Teal, Wigeon, Mute Swans, Barnacle and Canada Geese and at least 700 Cormorant feeding in a tight flock.
Waders were not in great numbers or variety with 4 Temminck’s Stints the best of the bunch.

a photo of a Red-throated Pipit (lappiplerke) in Akershus!

here the various ID features can be seen. Top left you can just make out the streaked rump, bottom left the large black malar patch and white belly, top right the long claws (eliminating Tree Pipit) and bottom right the broad pale tram lines on the back. The call helps aswell although to my ears is quite close to Tree Pipit

juvenile Hen Harrier (myrhauk). The small size and pale iris show this to be a young male
here the Hen Harrier is flying past a perched adult female Marsh Harrier and has flushed a load of Snipe
the adult female Marsh Harrier (sivhauk)
the juvenile Marsh Harrier flying over a perched juvenile Goshawk
the adult male Mrsh Harrier trying to pull a dead creature out of vegetation in the water
the juvenile Goshawk (hønsehauk) also tried to pull something from the water weed but failed
juvenile Merlin (dvergfalk)
Peregrine (vandrefalk)
Common Buzzard (musvåk)
and adult Sparrowhawk (spurvehauk) - quite a day for raptors!
mummy, daddy and baby Crane (trane)
Ringed Plovers (sandlo) and Dunlin (myrsnipe)
the three Garganey (knekkand) although it is difficult to tell based on this picture
the Garganey again - honestly!
Golden Plover (heilo)
the Merlin flying in front of the large Pochard (taffeland) flock
can you make out the Shoveler (skjeand)?

On the way home I stopped at Langvannet in Lørenskog. This is where last winter’s Caspian Gull showed so well but today the rarest gull was a 2CY Lesser Black-back which is an unusual age class in Norway. There were any juvenile LB-bGs here and I wonder where they breed – inland breeders or birds from the fjord? This lake is also a regular site for tame Mandarin Ducks with hardly any other records in Akershus. Mandarin is on the Norwegian list as a Category C species due to some records (proven by ringing?) being from the feral populations that exist in the UK. However the vast majority of records, judging by behaviour, locality and timing, are of birds that have a much closer origin. The cluster of records from Langvannet strongly suggests that they are escaping from close by and we know that multiple birds are involved as one (more?) have been caught and ringed whereas the current bird is unringed. This bird has also been the source of much internet discussion as when it was discovered 3 weeks ago it was in eclipse plumage and many people refused to accept it was a drake in eclipse plumage (despite the pink bill telling otherwise). During the course of these weeks though it has worn into nearly full breeding plumage which seems to happen much faster than in Mallards.
2cy Lesser Black-backed Gull (sildemåke)
4 species of gull in juvenile plumage. Clockwise from top left: Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull (gråmåke), Black-headed Gull (hettemåke) and Common Gull (fiskemåke)
the male Mandarin


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