Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Mountain Marsh Runner

After yesterday checking out Oslo’s premier wader locaility it was time today to check out Akershus’s premier locality: Nordre Øyeren. As regular readers will know this site is of international importance but just as spring wader migration is warming up it all gets ruined because of a Royal Decree (I kid you not) that says that water levels are to be raised such that conditions are suitable for boat people (and by this I don’t mean the boat people who are fleeing war or famine but the Gin & Tonic drinking variety). This means that around 14 May the water level rises by around a metre in the course of a couple of days and thousands of waders are left looking for new feeding grounds where they can fatten up before they move to their breeding grounds.

After the water levels are raised and the Svellet area is left birdless there is still some muddy areas at the end of Årnestangen. These seem to have very little food in the spring (although by the autumn are very attractive to waders) and have next to know birds in the spring unless there is rain and birds are forced down in which case down and this is a natural place for them to stop. No real rain was forecast today but a look the skies was enough to see that the forecast was as usual wrong and I got soaking wet on the walk out to Årnestangen. But this was good! The walk out was uneventful except for discovering a Yellow Wagtail nest well hidden in a tussock of grass. Many hirundines were also feeding in the shelter of trees.
There was just one small mud bank and a sweep of this showed a few waders: 3 Dunlin and 4 Ringed Plovers. The back of the mud bank though was not visible to me and as I scanned the edges a wader flew into view that looked like it had to be a Mountain Marsh Runner but before I could be sure (rain and distance made viewing conditions difficult) a group of Cranes scared all the waders into the air which suddenly showed there was also a flock of 10 Temminck’s Stints. The Cranes were also getting grief from Common Terns that are trying to breed on the mudbank (surely they will soon be flooded out). The waders all vanished and it was a good 15 minutes before I discovered them again (minus the stints) and at closer range. Now I got to to see the Runner properly and felt vindicated for my prediction abilities! At about this time the rain stopped and a Marsh Harrier and Short-eared Owl came out to hunt. The harrier did a close fly by and I spent some time watching it. Turing back to the waders they had moved back onto the mudbank but now there were more birds including probably another 2 Runners but before I had a chance to wack up the zoom they all flew up and off never to return. I stayed around for another half an hour but all that turned up were another 3 Temminck’s Stints and a Ringed Plover. Clearly a full day here could give a lot of birds with birds dropping in for short periods of time.

The day had started with a forced revisit to Østensjøvannet where I had lost the rainguard for my bins yesterday. Luckily I found it and also had much better views of the Little Gull which was resting on a field (yesterday it was feeding in flight for the whole 30 minutes I watched it). I walked round to the otherside of the lake and had a Little Gull feeding on a football pitch so thought there may have been two different birds but looking at my pictures I can’t see anything to separate the two birds so it must just have beaten me there.

Dunlin (myrsnipe), Ringed Plover (sandlo) and Mountain Marsh Runner (fjellmyrløper) which some also call Broad-billed Sandpiper ;-)

in flight BB Sand is noticeably narrow winged which makes the bird look strangely long

the only remaining mud bank at Årnestangen. The pictures were taken when the birds were feeding in some shallow water by the log on the right of the picture

1st summer Little Gull (dvergmåke) at Østensjøvannet

with some food

2cy Marsh Harrier (sivhauk) at Årnestangen

Short-eared Owl (jordugle) at Årnestangen.

Yellow Wagtail (gulerle) nest in a tuft of grass. I discovered it when the bird flew out as I walked past

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