Sunday, 18 December 2016

Desperate times

I guided Ed from Surrey yesterday. Ed seems to be falling in love with love with Norway after he visited earlier in the year and I showed him Hawk Owl. Today the target was Hazel Grouse, Three-toed Woodpecker and Pine Grosbeak. Yesterday the weather had been appalling with freezing fog over Oslo which left a layer of ice over all surfaces and made walking a life threatening activity.

If the weather had continued like that today, then we wouldn’t have bothered but a check out of the window just after 8am showed that there was no fog (or at least not where I live). I picked up Ed just after 9am and we headed for Lillomarka. At this height there was some fog but it wasn’t enough to make birding difficult although it had deposited a very thick white frost on all trees which might explain why in the first hour we did not see a single bird and only heard singles of Bullfinch, Treecreeper and Goldcrest. This was dire!!!! I did everything I could to get a Hazel Grouse to sing but had no luck. We also did not hear a single woodpecker and playing of Pygmy Owl did not result in a single passerine coming to investigate. I have had quiet days in the forest before but this was beyond comparison. I chose to return by a path I have never used before but which I thought may go through some more Hazel Grouse habitat. And yes finally a response! But it was not close and didn’t want to come closer and then shut up. We found a way to get down to where the bird was and started hearing a tapping woodpecker which then started calling and sounded very much like a Three-toed although as the calls are very similar to Great Spotted we needed to see it. I played call of Three-toed and a bird immediately flew in but it was a Nutcracker which was closely followed by another Nutcracker and then a Jay. We were suddenly surrounded by more birds than we had had in the previous 90 minutes! The Hazel Grouse then started singing again and a whir of wings and a shape moving through the trees was all we saw of it. After all the excitement died down I hoped to find the woodpecker but it was now silent and we returned to the birdless experience although we did see a Treecreeper, 2 Goldcrests and a white hare before we got back to the car.

Friday in Maridalen the single adult and young Whooper Swan were on the only open water on Maridalsvannet thus confirming that the 10 birds I had seen on Thursday were family parties of 8 and 2.

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