Friday, 22 January 2016

Forty Nine Shades of Grey

I’m still rolling!

The weather started changing today with blue skies replaced by cloud and temperatures above -10C (although not much). The days was windless and I thought that another visit to the Drøbak area might be fruitful with a specific hope of getting better pictures of the White-beaked Dolphin I saw on Tuesday. And boy was today fruitful! The cloud though meant that there was little colour to discern and as you will see this, combined with the creatures that I photographed, explains the title of this post.

Driving out of Oslo I had a Great Grey Shrike by the motorway in the same area I had one on Tuesday so this would appear to be another wintering territory. I was keen to find out whether all three of the territories to the east of Drøbak (and which I’ve previously drawn on a map) were still holding shrikes. I found birds at the two southernmost territories although not at the northernmost. The bird in the middle territory was a lot further to the west than I have seen him before and the southernmost bird was at the northern end of her territory (my use of his/her is completely arbitrary) bordering right up to the middle birds territory. That this areas continues to support shrikes despite the cold and snow is a sure sign of good access to rodents and that then begs the question why aren’t there any Hawk Owls here?

And I soon rebutted that question when I found a Hawk Owl, in Akershus, and in the process experienced a huge flood of euphoria. I was on a high and Hawkie really is a drug! Close by the road (aren’t they always) it was perched high up close to an area favoured by a bird during the invasion winter of 2012/2013. It does have to be said though that Hawk Owls don’t generally do very much except for sit there and occasionally give you a quick and disdainful look and this bird was little different so I didn’t spend too long with it and moved on to the dolphin.
I saw the dolphin straight away and it was closer to land than last time. I found a new place to watch it but by then it had moved further out however I was still well positioned. As on Tuesday it would breach the water every few minutes between 2-5 times before diving again. These breaches would reveal the back and dorsal fin but frustratingly not the head or tail. As each breach lasts only a couple of seconds it was very difficult to get photos. The best tactic was to wait for the first of a new series of breaches and then point the camera at that area and wait for subsequent breaches. This worked fairly well but the autofocus would often try to recalibrate so I found it was best to switch to manual (fixed) focus and just fire off loads of shots. This resulted in quite a few photos but none better than I managed last time. Then a large boat headed past and Flipper went crazy. Instead of patrolling a relatively small area he headed at full speed across the fjord towards the boat and started jumping!! Now we were talking. For some reason he did not go all the way to the boat and ride the bow wave as I had hoped but instead continued to jump in the middle of the fjord and let the boat go by. This continued for about 5 minutes and was the day’s second euphoric experience. Seeing the underside of this beast would make you think it was a different species than the one that had been breaching earlier as it is completely white underneath.

anything on top of a tree is worth looking closer at
definitely worth an even closer look
nicely framed
that look!
of course when I got close then it disdainfully refused to look at me even though it would literally be looking down at me
one of three Great Grey Shrikes (varsler) that I saw today but the only one that I photographed
these three Roe Deer were by Hawkie

The White-beaked Dolphin (kvitnos) jumping. What a kick to watch!
it rushed towards this boat
whereas before this was as a good a view as I got
a big beast
jump sequence - it makes  huge splash

lone Dolphins are normally males. The black circle that can be seen on the belly is I assume where his tackle comes out
shark like
a couple of times he powered across the surface of the water without jumping

the animal is so much striking from below

here with what I take to be a 1st winter Great Black-backed Gull and a Guillemot

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