Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Glaucous Gull

Yesterday was one, if not the, worst weather days I have experienced. Overnight there were clear skies and temperatures of around-5C but around 6am rain clouds came in and the rain (not snow) fell onto frozen ground creating a layer of sheer ice on pavements and roads. This combined with the fact that it never really got light the whole day was a good excuse to stay at home and write up rarities descriptions (not that I have that many to write this year).

Today temperatures were just above zero and it was a bit brighter but the ground was still frozen although there was now water lying on top of frozen ground instead of ice. I followed well-worn tracks and visited Fornebu, Maridalen and shamefully a dump.

At Fornebu it was more of an audio experience with calling but unseen Bearded Tits and Water Rails. In one small area though there were a lot of feeding passerines attracted to a variety of berry bushes and amongst them were 7 Hawfinches and 70 Waxwings. The Arctic Tern is surviving and staying loyal to a very small area. If it survives into December then it will really be a quite exceptional record.

After Fornebu I had to do some shopping and found myself dangerously close to Alna and the dumps. What the heck, I could hope for a quick and clean surgical strike and that is exactly what I managed. On only my second sweep through the gulls I found the target: the 1st winter Glaucous Gull. A real brute of a bird it dwarfed all the Herrings Gulls. There were at least 400 Herring Gulls but I’ve no idea what this many birds find to eat. The main focus of their attentions is a recycling plant for cardboard packaging and I assume that there is food waste amongst the packaging but given that the birds spend most of their time on the roof tops I cannot fathom how so many birds find enough to eat. The birds fly down in small groups under the roof and whenever a bird finds something there is a real cat fight to steal the food. I stayed 20 minutes with the bird which felt long enough to avoid a pure twitching feeling but just about short enough to avoid permanent physical and psychological damage.

In Maridalen the 5 Mute Swans seem to be finding enough food to eat and a flock of 120 Yellowhammers on a stubble field was a large flock for this area. The Great Grey Shrike was back on its favoured wires after I hadn’t seen it on my last few visits. Whilst I watched it, it coughed up a pellet which I was able to find. Pulling it apart at home it seems to be made up of hair and bones from a rodent.

In the garden a 1cy male Sparrowhawk has been hunting the sparrows at the feeding station. This afternoon he was sat on the ground under the feeders when I walked up the path and didn’t seem to mind me being less than 10 metres way until I tried to get my camera out of my bag when of course he flew off although had to think twice after first trying to fly through a wire mesh fence…
1st winter Glaucous Gull (polarmåke) dwarfing Herring Gulls (gråmåke)

the pale plumage really shines in the gloom

easy to pick out from the masses

here adwiched between two colour ringed Herring Gulls. It will be interesting to see how long the Glauc remains blingless
its also possible to pick the bird out just from the head

here is where the gulls were. They were sitting on the far roof and flying down into the warehouse building looking for food
GG in Maridalen
starting from the left here is a sequence of it coughing up a pellet

and the pellet collected and dissected at home. Looks to be the hair and ones of a small rodent
a flyby Little Auk (alkekonge)

the Arctic Tern (rødnebbterne) still going strong
this male Bullfinch (dompap) was giving the "trumpet" call of an eastern bird. I could not detect any plumage features that separated this bird from the normal Scandinavian birds and it  didn't appear to be particularly large. The call of these birds is to my ears the same as that of Two-barred Crossbill and they are probably lie back the vast majority of recent records of 2BCs which have been claimed on call.

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