Thursday, 17 November 2016

Sun and Hawkie

The weather is nothing but variable at the moment. Today was blessed with blue skies and bright sun and seemed like a good day for some Hawkie hunting. I headed our east and first checked out the Hemnessjøen and Hellesjøvannet areas for waterbirds. Hemnessjøen was ice free but had few birds with 19 Goosander the highlight (I was hoping for Smew). Hellesjøvannet was completely frozen and the only excitement here was a good sized flock of Yellowhammers which I felt certain would reveal a Pine Bunting (this autumn has seen record numbers arrive in Norway). I did have poor views of a couple of females almost entirely lacking yellow in their plumage but couldn't string them into their rarer cousin.
The only concentration of wildfowl I had was at Bjørkelangsjøen with a whopping 452 Canada Geese which quite surprisingly is the largest count reported in Norway this year. Only a decade ago there were counts of around 1000 birds in Akershus but it would look like the campaign against this black listed species (pricking eggs and I believe focused hunting) is having some effect although with a flock of this size it is clearly still a fairly numerous bird. I’m not quite sure why this species is being targeted. I of course get that it is an alien species but don’t quite understand the damage it does. Feral Greylags and Barnacle Geese are far more numerous in south eastern Norway and I don’t know what the Canada Geese are doing that these species don’t. The only thing I can think of is that Canada Geese often nest on lakes in forests which the other species don’t and they may somehow be effecting this ecosystem negatively – that said though it is my experience that Canada Geese have become commoner in these forest habitats around Oslo at the same time as they have almost disappeared from Østensjøvannet (where they have been controlled) and I would imagine this is a direct result of the egg puncturing at Ø’vannet – these geese are clever cookies and have moved away from the place where they rear no young to places where they manage to!

What about Hawkie then?

The bird I have visited a couple of times recently was still there sitting on top of the tallest trees he could find and not be at all photogenic despite the sunlight. I decided to be patient and hope he would move lower and closer but instead he just vanished when I was looking elsewhere (head down in my phone).

On the drive home I was luckier though. Stig Helge Basnes has had a roadside bird a couple of times on his way to work in the last few weeks and although I have driven past the spot on a number of occasions I have not seen this bird, not until today that is. On my way out in morning I looked for it but didn’t see it but on the way home there it was. Perched on a telegraph cable right by the (busy) road. I turned the car round and was able to stop less than 10 metres from the bird but it immediately reacted to me stopping and flew into a tree after I had just managed a couple of hasty back lit photos. I then parked up and observed it from the car. I thought that it was looking for rodents in the roadside verge under the cables but suddenly if flew over the road and 30 metres out into a stubble field it hovered before plunging to the ground. It was a while before it flew up onto a telegraph pole and I’m sure it had caught something but when I drove closer it flew further away into some woodland. Amazing that it saw the mouse at such range and cool to see it hovering (which I have only observed a couple of times before) but no photos of this behaviour unfortunately.

I had time to check Maridalen at the end of the day and all of yesterdays bird were present and correct plus the 5 Scaup were again there – where were they yesterday???
Top grade Hawkie available on a street near you

no doubt that I came close but it was all too quick to get a really good photo
the first Hawkie of the day - much too high up

Goldfinch (stillits)
a female Yellowhammer (gulspurv) with very little yellow in its plumage and a bird that really stood out in the flock
an unwanted mink in Maridalen. It seemed to have its eye on a Mallard but wasn't quick enough
my only Great Grey Shrike (varsler) of the day - in good ol' Maridalen

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