Friday, 18 November 2016

Pintail on ice

A new day and a new weather system. Overnight rain, clouds and a fresh southerly wind were not the best birding conditions and wasn’t eve sure I would bother but eventually decided that it might be worth checking the sea off Fornebu. Not much to write down in the notebook here except for a few Common and Velvet Scoters and a Guillemot heading up the fjord.

I checked out the reedbed in Koksa and heard Bearded Tits although didn’t see them and in Storøykilen there was a single Little Grebe. This species is very rarely recorded as a breeder in Norway but turns up regularly at a few chosen places in the autumn with a few overwintering. Storøykilen is one of these favoured places with annual autumn records.

I gave Sørkedalen another drive round hoping for Hawk Owl. This was not to be but on the frozen Bogstadvannet there were 50 or so Mallards hanging around hoping for bread and amongst them a fine young male Pintail which was very photogenic although I could have hoped for better light. Pintail is a rare species in Oslo except for the odd bird that turns up a Østensjøvannet and can often spend the winter there. I was rather surprised that the lake was frozen as Maridalsvannet is ice free and it was really quite mild today. However up on the valley sides I could see that snow had fallen during in the night as I drove further into the valley there was snow on the ground. I drove back on a side road and suddenly found I was driving on ice with a layer of water on the top. I don’t remember driving on anything quite so slippery before and I was a bit nervous about meeting any oncoming traffic. There were a few uphill bits where I realised I would have to have good speed going into the hill but was worried about any turns in the road. On one uphill there was a taxi stuck in a ditch on the other side of the road and he had clearly lost control driving down the hill. I wasn’t able to stop as all my concentration was on not colliding with him and making it up the hill. I ended up having to drive right on the side of the road in the gravel to get any traction and only just made it to the top at a snail pace. My pulse really rose during the drive and I was very afraid that I wouldn’t make it and would have to attempt to reverse down the hill which I think would have ended up with me in the ditch.

After this I should probably just driven home but I gave Maridalen a visit where luckily (and strangely?) there was no ice on the roads. Here the lake was very choppy due to the wind and I located the 12 Whooper Swans that have present the last few days, the three Tufted and a single Great Crested Grebe but no Scaup (will they turn up again?).
1st winter male Pintail (stjertand) with female Mallards (stokkand)

Whooper Swans (sangsvane) in stormy conditions at Maridalsvannet

amongst the 12 swans there is only a single youngster which is with its parents
Mute Swans at Fornebu

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