Maridalen was quiet with an ice mist over the still frozen lake but a pair of calling Cranes on the ice added to the atmosphere. The first exciting bird of the day was a species I had a hoping for but when I found it I was a bit shocked. Lapland Bunting is very scarce in Oslo although I have seen it three times previously in Maridalen and the first half of month April is the time to find one. The expectation is to find one feeding in a stubble field not singing from the top of a tree!! It was fortune that I looked at the bird - there was a lot of noise from singing Redwings but the closest bird from which song seemed to be coming was a lot smaller. I wasn't sure what I was expecting but immediately had a good feeling and got closer and yes a male Lapland Bunting. The song though was nothing like what I hear from breeding birds in the mountains and must be a subsong. It is just about audible in this video.
After this excitement in Maridalen I headed for Nordre Øyeren. Yesterday there was reported a considerable increase in bird numbers in Svellet including 4 Garganey. I was expecting even more birds today but was surprised to find considerably fewer and the Garganey had unfortunately gone.
Moving on to Årnestangen I had the days second surprise. I picked up a male harrier being harassed by a Crow and immediately thought Pallid due to long slender wings, small size and a pale grey plumage. As it flew closer towards me I saw it had too much black in the primaries for a Pallid but it didn't feel right for a Hen either. I concentrated on taking pictures (seriously missed the 500mm lens here) but could not see a black trailing edge to the secondaries and the extensive black on the primaries extended down to the base of the middle primaries. Studying my photos I see no other option than this being an adult male hybrid Pallid x Hen Harrier. Quite a few 1cy birds have been reported in Norway but this is the first adult although a couple of older males are reported from Sweden.
In the (poor) pictures can one also see that the hand comprises a short P10 (shorter than Hen?), long P9,8 & 7 and a P6 that is long enough to be called a finger but is not as long as one would expect on a Hen.
The annoying thing about this exciting bird is that I don't get a year tick out of it ;-(
|at range it was looking like a Pallid Harrier (steppehauk)|
|the hand looks to only have 4 fingers and the black on the middle primaries extends to their base but there is too much black|
|there is a thin dark grey band at the back of the secondaries but not as dark or broad as you would expect on a Hen Harrier|
|here we can see that the base of p10 on the upperwing is grey (black on Hen)|
|here we can see the "fingers". P10 (the outermost one) is probably too short for a Hen Harrier, P9,8,7 are OK for Hen Harrier but P6 is too short (although too long for a Pallid)|
|the absence of a broad dark trailing edge to the secondaries is again apparent|
|with a Herring Gull|
Other birds were the 5 Gadwall still present plus my first Osprey of the year. I had 4 Great Grey Shrikes during the day and a return visit to Maridalen revealed 7 low flyover Cranes (had probably just flown up from a field) which judging by missing feathers are not the same birds I saw on Monday – this year is without a doubt a record for Cranes in Maridalen.
|Pair of Cranes (trane) on the frozen, misty Maridalsvannet in the morning|
|The 7 Cranes in the afternoon|
|conditions must be quite dire for the Lapswings and these 3 were looking for food on the ice where a stream runs in|
|first Osprey (fiskeørn) of the year|
|these two 2cy Whooper Swans in Maridalen may well have been born in the valley last year|
|10 Goosander (laksand) were showing at close range|
|evidence of roosting Long-eared Owls at Årnestangen, Droppings and a wet pellet stuck up the tree|
|the view at Svellet - water levels are already rising|