Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Today I had a shag

The potential of the islands in the inner Oslofjord just offshore Oslo city has been known for a long time. Eric Roualet in particular has regularly visited the larger islands of Gressholmen, Lindøya and Nakholmen which are accessible by busboat and has turned up quite a few scarce and the odd rare. In the last few years though Andreas Gullberg has visited the smaller islands with the use of his own boat. He has found a lot of locally exciting species and shown that a number of species are far more regular than previous records suggested.
I had a chance to go out with Andreas on Saturday but a combination of a body resistant to getting up before 6am and my daughter’s football tournament meant I had to decline. I duly missed out on a Long-tailed Skua (Akershus tick) and Turnstone (Oslo tick) amongst others. I went out to the larger islands today though hoping that there might still be something hanging around.
I had a good start with an Arctic Tern feeding with three Common Terns soon after the boat left land. Arctic Tern is rare in Oslo although annual.
On Gressholmen there were 8 Dunlin, a Ringed Plover and 3 Greenshank in the tidal bay. An offshore rock held 4 Knot which were pushed off by the rising tide. Passerines were nearly non-existent with a single Wheatear the only bird of any interest. Butterflies included my first Pained Lady of the year plus a couple of male Common Blues.
Lindøya held some resting terns. I had good views of a juv Arctic and 5 juv Common and later on from long range saw a total of commic 12 terns on the same rock. The same rock also held 13 roosting Dunlin and 4 Ringed Plovers.
Moving onto Nakholmen (the hourly boat service giving exactly an hour per island) I had 4 Knot which must be the same as on Gressholmen. A shriek made me look up and there were two Hobbies cruising around overhead. They were an adult and juv I expect these to be from the family group that has been entertaining people at Nessodtangen on the other side of the fjord
On the boat back to the city I had a chance to check Galteskjær. I saw no waders and then did something I don't normally do - I went through the 80 odd roosting Cormorants. The reason for this was that Bjørn Olav had seen a Shag at Fornebu on Saturday – a species I have never seen in either Oslo or Akershus. And boom! I had a Shag (and it's been a while
😉). This is also the first Oslo record (or at least the first published one...) giving me two Oslo firsts this year after the Short-toed Lark in Maridalen in April.
The birding ended with an adult Peregrine ripping into its lunch on top of the town hall when the boat docked.
A very fresh southerly wind blew up during the day. This wasn't forecast and I don't know how local it is but could push some interesting sea birds into the inner fjord.

It's a Shag (toppskarv)

Juv Arctic Tern (rødnebbterne) left with 3 juv Common Terns (makrellterne)

Arctic (left) with Common. Note the smaller size, black bill, dark legs and less noticeable carpal bar of the Arctic

Common (left) and Arctic in flight. Note the dark trailing edge to the secondaries on the Common but white on the Arctic

2 Knot (polarsnipe). I took loads of pictures of these and will probably come back with a separate posting

4 Knot
these 2 ringed Barnacle Geese (hvitkinngås) overwinter in Holland. They were also recorded with 3 eggs in the nest on the late date of 7 July this year. The fact they were alone suggests their breeding failed

Common Blue (tiriltungeblåvinge)
Dunlin (myrsnipe) with 2 Ringed Plover (sandlo)
adult and juv Hobby (lerkefalk). The adult didn't seem in the mood to share its catch
Painted Lady (tistelsommerfugl)
adult Peregrine (vandrefalk)
2 very dainty looking juv Ringed Plovers (sandlo)

small White (liten kålsommerfugl)
this Wheatear (steinskvett) found a smal caterpillar


  1. 'Today I had a Shag' indeed, I know you live in Scandinavia but I really didn't think it was that sort of blog.... .

    And to compound matters you then go on to talk about a Pained Lady!!!! Ha ha!!

  2. Well... I just wanted to say that it's really interesting to read your posts!

    Astrid Kvendbø