Friday, 1 April 2016


I had an early start today and hoped to have a great day. Unfortunately I soon realised that the weather had not done me any favours. As I headed north east from Oslo it became clear that the snow that had fallen in Maridalen yesterday afternoon had also fallen here and with a heavy overnight frost everything was white and the roads very icy – winter was paying us a return visit. The skies were blue though and it felt like spring in the air.

I went looking (listening) for the Woodlarks but heard nothing from them at three different sites close to Gardermoen airport. Hopefully it was just the weather causing no activity rather than no birds being present. I did have two male Black Grouse displaying from tree tops right by the road though which was a great and unexpected sight. The photo opportunity was there for the taking but unfortunately I managed one photo through the car window with engine still running (and vibrating) before my camera experienced a serious defect. It was only once I got home that I discovered the problem – the lens has locked itself at f.22 meaning that taking photos is nearly impossible and when I did manage to take any all the muck on my lens (internal I believe) shows up on the pictures. You will see the results lower down.

The Bean Geese were surprisingly all on the river and many were feeding on the river bank rather than on the fields. This I believe was as a result of the overnight snow/frost. I counted a minimum of 152 (possibly some I couldn't see around the bend of the river) which is exactly the same as I counted on 18 March on my last visit. This seems like a confirmation that this is the size of the flock although it may not be that simple as some Bean Geese have already turned up in Hedmark at a site where “our” birds are known to stop for a few days on their way to Sweden. So it could be that after 18 March that more birds arrived and some have already moved on or it could be that the birds currently in Hedmark come from a different population. There is some evidence that this might the case as not too far away in Hedmark there is a ring collared bird that comes from a different Swedish population. Interesting that these different populations (which some DNA evidence suggests are quite genetically different) use sites close to each other (including wintering grounds) without perhaps properly mixing.

Quite a few Teal were resting on the river bank but otherwise little else.

Moving on to Aurskog-Høland there were very good amounts of flood water around Bjørkelangen but the overnight frost had caused most of it to freeze. There were still lots of birds though and things are looking very promising for the coming weeks. There were over 300 Whooper Swans, 29 Cranes, 40 Teal and a massive 109 Lapwing.

Hellesjøvannet was surprisingly ice free (other, larger lakes were still frozen) but had few birds (e.g only 2 Teal) so presumably had only been ice free a couple of days but 10 Great Crested Grebes were back and displaying. Grebes must migrate at night as they are never reported at migration sites so it would be interesting to understand their movements and what they do if they discover a lake is frozen.

Svellet was all exposed mud but had also been frozen in the morning. Never the less 11 Oystercatchers and many Black-headed Gull were there but surprisingly no Curlew yet.

Raptors were scarce today with only 4 Buzzards and a single Kestrel (this species has not yet arrived back in any numbers)
winter in April. The roads were icy!
the only picture I managed of a roadside Black Grouse (orrfugl) before my lens malfunctioned
and this is what pictures look like with a lens stuck at f.22 and a significant amount of crap within the lens
wasted opp with a Buzzard (musvåk)
wasted opp with Cranes (trane)
a low definition view of Kjellw with Lapwings (vipe) and Whooper Swans (sangsvane)
these Moose could have been good (lots of Moose and Roe Deer today on fields with food in the forests being hard to come by at this time of the year)
phone scoping at great range. Here are the Bean Geese and you can just about make out that some are feeding on the bank
a rather poor picture of the flooding at Kjelle
An April fool? A supersonic bird? Or a technological problem? One of the tagged Bean Geese apparently flew from Norway to California (closest town April) and then to Ukraine (closest town apparently named Fool) - if you believe Carl from the WWT ;-).

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