Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Good local birding

Birding back in the Oslo area doesn’t offer the same chance of finding rarities as Værøy did but there is still good birding to be had and everything is relative: one can still have very exciting birding experiences with unexpected birds or just noting migration and the changing of the seasons.

I chose to have a last look for the Bean Geese which will soon be off to Scotland. I knew from a plot at 8am that they were on a field viewable from a road and when I got there at 0915 they were still there although I could not see them due to fog but I could hear them! The fog quickly burnt off and I could see the flock of Beans, a large group of Canadas and a few Greylags. As usual a number of the Beans were feeding in depressions and were not always visible and my various attempts at counting the flock could vary by up to 30 birds! I spent a long time checking for collars and finished with 17 which were the same birds I had a couple of weeks ago so no new tagged birds although my counts suggested that the flock had increased. However, when I counted from a flight photo I took later there were 129 birds – exactly the same count as last time. It was disappointing that the flock was not larger as this is a smaller autumn flock than the last couple of years, which may be explained by the near absence of youngsters. It was encouraging though that the flock was the same size as I have often wondered whether they are subject to illegal hunting as the GPS data shows them often changing roosts sites and sometimes flying 70km to roost which seems to be a real waste of energy unless they are forced to move.
There was a real autumnal feeling in the air with various finches, thrushes and buntings calling and flying over. I also had a Rough-legged Buzzard which unsettled the geese and a couple of Common Buzzards as well as a Great Grey Shrike. Woodpeckers were also making a noise and I heard Black, Green and best of all a Grey-headed.

At 1030 the geese still hadn’t flown down to the river as I had hoped but I decided to move on. As I drove away from the site a flock of geese flew over me heading for the river. I suspected them to be the Canadas’s but drove to the vantage point at Udenes Church to check. The geese were indeed the Canadas and they had joined some birds already on the river. After 15 minutes though the Beans flew in from the field (this is when I got the flight shot to count them) and then stayed on the river for over an hour and a half. During this time, I scanned the skies for raptors and as the day warmed up I had a large number of Rough-legged Buzzards and Common Buzzards plus Sparrowhawk, Goshawk and a Peregrine. Some of the buzzards were moving through but a number were clearly feeding over the fields where I had seen the geese. I decided to go back to the fields to try to get some photos. Incredibly the geese were back on the fields when I arrived there and I had to check for the collars to ensure it was the same flock (which it was). I had 4 Rough-leggeds and 6 Common Buzzards in the air above just a couple of stubble fields. There was clearly a lot of food here for them and they were using the wind to hover. I have never before seen such a concentration of feeding buzzards in Norway and it will be interesting to see if they hang around into the winter.

Geese in the mist

Taiga Bean Geese (sædgås)

four tagged geese including 30

seen from another angle

flying down to the river
Rough-legged Buzzard (fjellvåk). Not entirely sure of age and sex but the double tail band shows it to be 2cy + 

same bird as above

hunting - probably a juvenile

a 2y ?
the upper bird is the same as in the first 2 pictures. The lower bird may be an adult male?
the same 2 birds
Rough-legged Buzzard with Common Buzzard (musvåk) note the smaller size of the Common
a juvenile Common Buzzard
another juvenile Common Buzzard with a pale plumage
and another juvenile Common Buzzard with a fairly typical plumage
and an extremely pale Common Buzzard
probably also a juvenile
same bird. In this plumage they are often mistaken for Rl Buzzards or even rarer species
a rather dark Common Buzzard hovering for food
a dainty juvenile male Goshawk (hønsehauk)
a Great Grey Shrike (varsler). It has some food in its bill which makes it look rather crow like in silhouette

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