Monday, 28 December 2015

The Birder Strikes Back - 2015 the year that was part II

After a generally mild winter April started with a heavy dump of fresh snow that rather surprised newly arrived migrants but gave some good photo opportunities.

Greylag Geese

Black-headed Gull
 Jack Snipes are never easy to see but this bird in Maridalen was an exception and was even twitchable

Cranes are becoming commoner and in April can be seen in quite large numbers around Oslo. This year I also had birds on the deck in Maridalen for the first time

This Black Redstart in Maridalen was unsurprisingly the first record for the area and hung around a few days

Maridalen experiences a small raptor passage in the spring and this pale Buzzard flew low over my head one day

I found two Black Woodpecker nests in Maridalen which made finding this sought after species easy

Ring Ouzels are regular migrants in Maridalen in April but are always shy

At the beginning of the year there were no cones on spruce trees and hardly any crossbills to see. A good crop of cones on pine trees though attracted Parrot Crossbills and they most likely bred. Bill sizes were variable and not all birds were easy to place but this bird shouldn't be a problem to call a Parrot

Ospreys do not breed in Maridalen but frequently use the lake for feeding

Black-throated Divers do breed though and can show very well

I visited Jæren in the west of Norway at the end of April and saw some of the few remaining breeding Black-tailed Godwits

I've never seen and doubt I ever will see a godwit in Maridalen but waders do pass through on migration and also breed there. Here a migrant Wood Sandpiper and breeding Lapwing

Wood Warblers were easy to find this year

The Black Woodpeckers bred succesfully

As did Dippers on Akerselva which runs through Oslo
Finding Tawny Owl youngsters is a real highlight every year but timing is important as they melt away into the forest just a couple of days after climbing out of the nest

A trip to Hedmark at the end of May always has lots to offer. This year there were no large owls breeding but I did find Hawk Owl.

This female Capercaillie walked along the road in front of me
 Ortolan Buntings are on the verge of disappearing from Norway but are not difficult to find if you know where to look.

Rustic Buntings are even rarer and even if you know where to look are very difficult to find but with such a special bird it is worth the effort
Red-necked  Phalaropes are scarce in the mountains of Southern Norway but are also well worth the effort

Around Oslo there were number of good breeding records this year. Corncrakes sang and probably bred at both Østensjøvannet and Maridalen and could also be glimpsed every now and again

Common Rosefinches arrive late but have become fairly common around Oslo and I even had a bird in the garden
 Slavonian Grebes are declining globally but are becoming commoner around Oslo
 Whooper Swans are also increasing and bred successfully in Maridalen
 In addition to Corncrake there was also singing Quail and both Blyth's Reed and Marsh Warbler bred. This picture shows the Blyths on the left and a Marsh on the right

 But it wasn't just Maridalen that had good birds. Sørkedalen which is the neighbouring valley to the west had a singing Grasshopper Warbler
 and best of all breeding Red-breasted Flycatchers
 Whinchats breed in small numbers around Oslo

 But for some species a trip to Oppland is required. Lekking Great Snipe
 and Siberian Jay

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