I normally head straight out to the furthest point and then bird my way back but today as I drove past Merkja I saw there were quite a few waders. Before 0530 I was watching Ruff, my first Dunlin of the year and a male Garganey amongst others. I then thought I had to check out Svellet as I knew that the weather would improve by the afternoon and that the water levels are rising fast (42 cm the last 3 days and 21cm since yesterday). There was still mud showing but hardly any birds (less than 50 waders in total but too distant to make out what they were, although on my way home I did see them better). The areas that are now available for feeding were bone dry yesterday and there clearly is no food yet. So the party is over just as it was getting interesting but there is probably still a couple more days where something could turn up and Merkja still looks good.
My first stop in Aurskog-Høland was Haneborg - one of the sites that has held Dotterel before. I did find plovers but the 7 Ringed Plover resting on a bare field were possibly even more unlikely than Dotterel here and a sign that the rain was having the desired results. By now it was really cold, the wind has turned to the north and was quite strong which highlighted how underdressed I was – I actually started shivering!
The flooded field at Kjelle held a few waders including 3 male Ruff (Merkja had held 15 females and just one male) and I then headed for Hellesjøvannet. I checked quite a few bare fields along the way but it was when I approached Hellesjøvannet that I was heading into the second historic site. I stopped the car, scanned and had a huge adrenalin rush – Dotterel!!! I initially saw just one bird but drove closer and there were 5 and they were very close to road. I was really able to fill my boots with them whilst staying warm in the comfort of the car and not disturbing them. I took far too many pictures with both cameras (allowing me to really compare the two) plus a load of video. I’ll have to come back later with a proper comparison of the two cameras but my first conclusion is that whilst the view finder of the bazooka is much better and you feel you are taking a better picture that the end result is better from the superzoom. I was also able to compare them in poor light at Merkja and here the bazooka probably performed better but I’ll come back to this in a later blog post.
Of the five Dotterel there were two obvious dowdier birds which were males but there were also clear differences between the brighter birds than left me unsure as to whether I was seeing a bright male alongside a female or two females with one perhaps being a 2cy bird.
The Marsh Harrier were again present with a pair displaying and a lone male hunting and looking forlorn.
Maridalen in the afternoon held no Dotterel (there is one historic record) but did have Whimbrel, Greenshank and Wood Sand so the weather had an impact here too.
|Dotterel (boltit) - this seems like a straightforward male which in this species are less brightly coloured and look after the eggs and kids|
|a brightly coloured female displaying|
|displaying female left and probably another female on right|
|The same two birds as above. The bird on the left is a clear female but the bird on the right looks very well marked on the underparts. Is the broader fringing to the mantle and scapular feathers because it is a male or a sign of immaturity?|
|not sure age/sex of the bird in the middle but the right hand bird must be a male and I assume a 2cy bird|
|the birds were close to the car!|
|a female but with som unmoulted winter plumage feathers still on the underparts|
|female - the same bird as in the first picture|
|this is the male Marsh Harrier (sivhauk) that has a mate|
|and this is the unpaired and I believe older male|
|the unpaired male|
|1 male and 15 female Ruff (brushane) and a Dunlin (myrsnipe) at 0537|
|3 very different male Ruff at Kjelle|
|the Svellet Panorma with much less (very dry and unattractive) mud left|
|Whimbrel (småspove) in Maridalen|