Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Multiple Hawkies

If I was writing this post two or three years ago I would have been talking about orgasms, ecstatic highs and my addiction to Hawkie. Now though as the years have passed I find that Hawkie, to be perfectly honest, no longer hits the mark in the way that it used to and I think I may need something a bit stronger.

Hawk Owls are a nomadic species (even though some guide books give a different impression) and follow the fluctuating populations of rodents across Scandinavia and Russia. When rodent populations crash in the area where the owls have bred then they flee that area and search for other areas where there is food. They can travel very long distances and many turn up on the coast or on islands (e.g Værøy). This autumn has seen a significant invasion of Hawk Owls into Southern Norway. 1984/5 is spoken about as the big year with 30 reports in Oslo and Akershus and within my time 2012/13 was a good year with closer to 40 reports in OA. In between these invasions the species is very scarce and in some years, for example 2011 is not seen at all in OA.

It is looking like this year may be an even larger invasion year although it is clear that only a fraction of birds are ever reported and observer effort makes a difference. So far there have been around 20 reports and the frequency is increasing and given that in 2012/13 it was only in November when significant numbers arrived there could be many more to come. None of the birds seems to have settled down yet either which may be a sign that there is not so much food in our parts either and the birds are just moving through.

After finding a bird on Saturday I thought I would put in a focused effort to day and drive a route that would take me through forest and farmland in Aurskog-Høland. My theory was that there would be more birds in the forest as there was not any snow to drive them out into farmland. My sightings did not bear this out but the theory may still hold water as to be honest the chances of finding Hawk Owl whilst driving along a forest road are a lot less than when driving through farmland when one can scan much larger areas. I ended up finding three birds all of which were new and this equals my best self-found day from 2012 when Rune and I had three in Østfold. Three different birds is not a record though as on one very memorable day in  Jan 2013 I had 5!!

Today I had one bird in forest and two in farmland. The forest bird was close to a house and some fields in the forest and the two farmland birds actually perched up on houses and were actively looking for food in the gardens! This must be a sign that food is hard to come by and I don’t suspect these birds to be seen again in the same places. Other than Hawkie I had four Great Grey Shrikes which is up there amongst my better day counts.

I visited Hærsetesjøen where I had thousands of geese on Saturday but today there were only just over a hundred Greylag. Not too far away though (as the goose flies) at Hemnesjøen there were many hundred Greylags and amongst them 6 Taiga Beans. Raptors were in short supply today although a Kestrel on a tree top did try to fool me into thinking it was Hawkie.
The most photogenic of the Hawk Owls which was perched right above the road

look at those claws

it first flew to a nearby chimney

and then on to a fence in the back garden where it plunged unsuccessfully for something in the grass

the day's first Hawkie in the forest

and the day's last - wish that was my house
6 Taiga Beans (sædgås) with Greylags

the closest of four Great Grey Shrikes (varsler) today

fake Hawkie - a Kestrel (tårnfalk)

Mistle Thrushes (duetrost)

Shoveler (skjeand) - there were still 14 at Merkja

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