BIRD GUIDING AROUND OSLO

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

I'm going on a Sibe Acc Hunt

Today was the day for the big Siberian Accentor Hunt. I had delegated all family responsibilities to Mrs.OB, was up at 5am and out of the house for 13 hours. Did I find one? Of course not but I did hear a number of unidentified accentors and when I played Sibe Acc call to a couple of them they responded…….but they turned out to be of the Hedge variety. I heard the first calls when it was still dark (could well have slept 45 minutes more) and I did get myself well and truly excited thinking that I had flocks of Sibes flying over but will never know. I could actually see the site in Sweden where there has been a Sibe Acc the last few days and took a picture at 12km range which I’m sure if I blow up enough will reveal my target ;-)

So I didn’t succeed in my main target but I did find a pretty damn good bird for the parts in the form of a Little Bunting. I was riding quite high off this but felt that some of the air leaked out of the balloon when I got messages that a Desert Wheatear was at Fiskumvannet (where I was yesterday…), then a picture from Kjell M who had found a Tawny Pipit (but then again I have no chance of competing against him due to geography), then another Sibe Acc was pulled out of a net on the west coast (it is pretty embarrassing collectively for us Norwegian birders that we can’t find one in the field) and the last message was of an unidentified swift in Oslo from a birder without bins needing assistance (do any self-respecting birders ever go out without bins, or at least a superzoom in their pocket? I can see the makings of a joke there..).

So the day’s plan was to head to the island of Søndre Asmaløy right in the south east of Norway and an area which has good viz mig and a history of scarce and rare birds. I started at Håbu from 0720 to 0910 but it wasn’t until 0800 that I could see anything. There was lots to hear though from the moment I left the car with a steady, if light, passage of finches, thrushes and tits (including Long-tailed of which I must have had over 100 in the day).  Nothing too scarce here though so I headed for the area around Vikerkilen and Skipstadkilen. Here I worked hard but for a long time three Wheatears were all I had of interest. A Lapland Bunting flew over and finally I felt I had found something worthy of an October day.

Shortly after a migrating flock of Blue Tits was buzzing around in low vegetation and whilst watching them I thought I saw a small warbler fly into a bush (was probably a Goldcrest). As I raised my bins to the bush I saw a bird I immediately realised was a Little Bunting! I panicked a bit as I got my camera out of my bag and then couldn’t the bird again. I searched and searched and then decided to follow the Blue Tit flock as they were the only other birds in the area and maybe it was associating with them. A bunting flew up and away and then turned round and came back and landed in a bush where the tits were. The Blue Tits were flying out and feeding on the ground and thankfully the bunting did the same and I got really rather good views!!! It interestingly did not call once. After it flew into some bushes I retreated to send out the news and then just waited as I didn’t want to risk scaring it. The first birder arrived after about an hour and a few more after that but I left them to look (unfortunately in vain) as I was by now starving. On the way back to the car I put up two Short-eared Owls and had another Lap Bunting. Nice!

It was now 1330 and I felt I had used my luck up so instead of searching other places for Sibe Acc I decided to work my way home via a number of previously reported birds. At the Great Big Dump, Øra I had Brent and  White-fronted Goose. At Lysakermoa I had Bewick’s Swan (becoming very rare in Norway) and more White-fronts. There have been a lot of White-fronts in Norway the last few days and the ones at Lysakermoa were two juveniles. It is interesting that they had already managed to lose their parents as the Taiga Bean Geese seem to keep together as a family group until the next spring. Continuing into Akershus I had a large flock of Greylags at Hemnesjøen. I couldn’t find any Beans here (had them last week) but did find a family party of 5 White-fronts. Then at Hellesjøvannet I had a single juv White-front with Greylags. I first saw this bird in flight and it was tiny such that I got quite excited until I got to see it properly on the water. So White-fronts at four locations is certainly not something I have ever experienced before.

A very good day!
The day's undoubted highlight a momentarily photogenic Little Bunting (dvergspurv)

here in the unlikely company of Blue and Great Tit




Short-eared Owl (jordugle)

Bewick Swans (dvergsvane). The inset show an adult pair with a juvenile. To the right of the picture is the fourth bird which was a 2cy

Brent Geese (ringgås) at Øra
Scaup (bergand) at Øra. Note the left hand bird is a 1cy male (grey feathers on back)

15 White-fronted Geese (tundragås) at Øra


juv White-front with Greylags at Hellesjøvannet

family of 5 White-fronts at Hemnesjøen

2 juv White-fronts at Lysakermoa

The cloest I got (12km or so) to a Siberian Accentor although surely I must have heard one (there must thousands of them out there!)


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