Tuesday, 8 November 2016

All over Hawkie

I headed out east today in snowy conditions and found that it was even more wintery there than in Maridalen. Whilst Maridalsvannet is still ice free, I was amazed to find that the mighty (but shallow) Svellet was completely frozen as was the Nittelva river in Lillestrøm and Hellesjøvannet where I had hoped to find a lot of ducks was 50% frozen and was bird free except for 25 Mallard sitting on the ice edge.

Bird free was a good summary of most of the places I visited. Apart from a lage flock of Jackdaws I the only passerines in any numbers were a few small flocks of Yellowhammers which were grilled unsuccessfully for something rarer. A single flock of 130 Canada Geese contained only a single Greylag for variation and I had no raptors. Grey birds that perch high up though saved the day. A Great Grey Shrike at a traditional location was expected so then I needed a dose of Hawkie to come away with some pride intact. I got my dose of Hawkie at a site where one was found on 9 October and which I have checked 2 or 3 times since without seeing it although it was also reported there on 29 October. It was actually quite a special meeting as for the first time I can remember I was above the bird. My normal encounters are with a bird perched on top of the highest spruce tree in the neighbourhood but this bird was perched on a top of a pole used to mark the edge of the road for snow ploughs and was no more than a metre up. It was also right on the edge of a dirt track and I slowly drove closer and saw the bird actively looking for food in the rough grass around it. I thought I was going to be in for a real treat until another car drove past and the owl few off but only when the car was right by it. I didn’t fly far though and I was able to watch it a bit longer range until it flew up onto a telegraph pole. I saw a mouse and heard others squeaking so this was clearly a rodent rich area.
Hawkie can be found almost anywhere

these are more expected places to see a Hawk Owl

some crude photoshopping

Great Grey Shrike
Hellesjøvannet, half covered in ice and empty of birds (25 Mallard excepted)

The Yellow-throated Bunting was not seen today and therefore escaped a planned meeting with citizen scientists who had planned to deprive it of some of its feathers for possible isotope analysis. Isotope analysis will only have been able to tell us with any certainty that the bird had definitely been in captivity (if it could be shown to have western European isotopes) but it would not have been able to prove that it was a genuine migrant as the bird could of course have been imported this autumn and therefore still have far eastern isotopes. So now we are left with an individual of a species from the far far east which has no track record in Europe, is a popular cage bird, has a far shorter migration than any other species from so far east that have made it to Europe, has serious damage to its toes and claws and from shape of tail feathers would seem to be a 2cy +. Would appear to be a rather easy bird to categorise unless I’m missing something?

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