Thursday, 7 January 2016

No carbon footprint

With temperatures down to -13C and a breeze making it feel colder today was perhaps not the best day to do Oslo the green way but I had a body crying out for some exercise after the excess of xmas. I trod a well-used route from Majorstua to Frognerpark – Bygdøy - Aker Brygge - Vippetangen – The Opera – Vaterland and finishing in the Botanical Gardens.

There was not a lot of birdlife to note unfortunately. I came across no flocks of Redpolls to grill (I still need Arctic in Oslo) and small gulls were very scarce (only a couple of years ago I could find a couple of hundred Common Gulls but today managed just 13). A large flock (ca.500) of Goldeneyes feeding on spilt grain at Vippetangen contained at least 5 Tufteds but the sun was low and behind the flock so I was unable to grill it for anything else. The lighting though allowed some atmospheric pictures.

Herring Gulls were common with over 600 birds noted and amongst them I had Leif the leucistic bird and for once managed good pictures including flights shots. He really is a messed up bird with non-symmetric colouring. He also has some dark feathers in the wing so is possibly not an adult bird as I had previously assumed.

The Botanical gardens held at least 20 Hawfinches and unseasonal 4 Bramblings and 3 Chaffinches.

Despite nothing of particular note the sunny weather resulted in a lot of pictures so I’ll stop writing and let the pictures talk.
sunrise today was very dramatic with high levels of air pollution no doubt adding to the firieness. Picture taken at 0921.

the sun was still dramatic at 10:06

the cold caused a mist to form over the water presumably as a result of the warmth being sucked out
lots of life in the Botanical Gardens. Here 4 Bramblings (bjørkefink) alongside Siskins (grønnsisik), Greenfinch (grønnfink), Repoll (gråsisik), Blackbird (svarttrost), House Sparrow (gråspurv), Great Tit (kjøttmeis) and Blue Tit (blåmeis)

male Brambling. A 1st winter I believe as the greater covert bar has two different colours

a mal Brambling looking very smart in flight

another male Brambling this one an adult I think. It had some sort of disease and had lost all the feathers on its cheek. Also a Tree Sparrow (pilfink)
female Brambling with male Chaffinch (bokfink) - also this one probably a 1st einter
all three Chaffinches. Left the 1st winter male, middle a female and right an adult male (notice much white wing bars). The adult mle had a damaged wing and I would imagine that many of the scarce overwintering birds have some health issue that has prevented them from migrating
not many Fieldfares left (and no Waxwings) but these three were searching for fallen berries. Can you see the two Bramblings?
some of the Goldeneye (kvinand) flock amongst the icy mist

here with a male Tufted Duck (toppand)

very atmospheric. Looks more like the picture is taken by a thermal spring in Iceland

this Guillemot (lomvi) looked like it was trying to play hide-and-seek
smart male Hawfinch (kjernebiter)
a drabber female Hawfinch towers over the other finches

The leucistic Herring Gull (gråmåke)

here it looks to me to be an adult and has a red eye ring

note though there are black feathers in the wing. This long with the remnant dark markings on the bill are a sign of immaturity and make the bird probably a 4th winter. The bird only used one leg and I never saw the other leg. When I saw him on 27 November he had and was using both legs. After initial posting this I have seen that this same gull was ringed today on the right foot see here so it clearly has two legs!

the leucism is not symmetrical. the righ hand wing has normal black outer primaries but these are white on the left wing

here one can see that the right leg is seemingly missing

in Frognerparken there were only two female Teal left. This is the tame ringed individual. Note the green speculum versus the blue of the female Mallard (stokkand)

female Siskin (grønnsisik)
There were a handful of Redpolls in the Botanical Gardens and all looked different. I believe all are Common/Mealy Redpolls (gråsisik) but a couple may be Lesser (brunsisk) although not classic individuals and one was approaching Arctic. But given that it is all clinal then lets just call them Redpolls
looks like a Common

small billed and buffy wing bars make this look like a Lesser but I ain't so sure
an adult male Common - white wing bars an lack of buffy tones around face
another adult male. Maybe a Lesser? Buffy(ish) wingbar and warmer tones around head
Common Redpoll - white wingbars and a lot of white in the rump
a very pale and small billed Common Redpoll that is approaching Arctic Redpoll and indeed may be one - the streaking on the undertail coverts probably not too extreme for Arctic but the rump could be larger and whiter ba



  1. Simon, if you struggle to identify the redpolls, even with good photos, what hope is there for the rest of us?

  2. Hi Glenn, redpolls are not easy which is why so many identification papers are written on them and genetic research carried out. It looks as though there are actually no significant genetic differences between the different (sub)species and they are all one species with their different appearances as a result of environmental factors. Therefore it is no surprise that there are lots of bids have inbetween characteristics!