Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A foggy tip

I really am not posting so much at the moment. My latest absence was due to being housebound after a skiing accident on Sunday whereby a large man on a snowboard used my back to stop himself. The pain the next two days was excruciating and I was sure that I had a broken rib but I awoke on day 3 to find that things were much better and I was able to move around freely although bending down is still a pain.
Oslo is currently experiencing no wind and weather that results in a “lid” over the city and concerns for air pollution such that yesterday saw a ban (for the first time) of diesel cars in the city. It was warned that the ban would last a few days but in the end the pollution wasn’t so bad and there was no ban today (I have petrol so wouldn’t have been affected anyway). Today though saw thick fog. When I left the house I hoped that it was an Oslo phenomenon but it soon became clear that it was an everywhere phenomenon. I had decided to go the Rubbish Tip at Askim which I had visited on Friday in the hope of a white-winger. As I drove and the fog didn’t lift I became worried that 1.) there would be no gulls there as they wouldn’t have been able to find their way there from their roost site (unknown site but potentially many 10s of kilometres away on the coast) or 2.) that if there were gulls there then I wouldn’t be able to see them!
When I arrived and after enduring a smirky smile from the guy on duty at the entrance (what type of person wants to come in here to watch gulls!) I could see there were some gulls but only 20 or so on a roof top.  I parked up and scanned through them and the second gull I saw was a 1st winter Glaucous and so was the fourth gull I saw!! Good start.
The fog was a bit of a problem but after a bit they flew down into the rubbish and I was able to drive close to them. The two Glaucous Gulls were very different with one being a bruty, classic plumaged bird but the other was a much darker bird especially on the breast and primaries and had generally far more patterning on its feathers. It was different enough to have me considering a hybrid with Herring Gull or at least the presence of Herring Gull genes but I believe that it was just a very well marked (pure) Glaucous but cannot be entirely sure.
After a while a lot more gulls turned up but there were fewer than on Friday with maybe 300 Herring and only 3 Great Black-backs. Despite having a good overview of the tip I realised that a lot of gulls were going down to rest on a field beyond the fence. I was able to view the field but the fog meant I couldn’t see the gulls properly.  There were a lot of corvids here though at closer range and amongst them two locally scarce Rooks.
Although the Glaucs were very easy to find for 30 minutes or so after I arrived they suddenly vanished (despite there being lots of other gulls on the tip) and I only saw one of them distantly after this despite being there for 2 and a half hours. Whether they had moved off or were just resting unseen on the field I don’t know but it confirmed that one needs to put a lot of time in to find good birds. The Iceland Gull hasn’t been reported again since I just missed it on Friday but it wouldn’t surprise me if it could still be around. I had a single gull that I had me thinking Caspian and which may well be a hybrid (or is it pure? Comments on Facebook would suggest pure) and also a tiny dark Herring Gull see pictures below).

A small flock of Redpolls was flying around the place and when they once landed close to me I was delighted to see at least one Arctic Redpoll amongst them. My pictures were a bit distant though. I tried sitting in the car and playing Redpoll calls which did bring three birds very close (they sat on the roof at one stage) but they were just Common/Mealy Redpolls.
Time flew though but 2 and a half hours is long enough and with the fog showing no signs of lifting I headed home.

I had a stop to look for Kingfisher (not been reported for a long time) in Bunnefjorden and when I arrived there was very little open water and it was calm which I thought gave me a good chance of finding one if it was still here. And sure enough it was! J

The classic brute of a Glaucous Gull (polarmåke)

same bird

The second Glaucous Gull which has me wondering as to whether there are som Herring Gull genes in it 
same bird

both the Glaucous Gulls together. Note the different head shape of the less obvious bird - here both head and body shape are quite Herring like
This Gull with its dark tertial and coverts plus pale head definitely has a lot of the Caspian about it without quite ticking all the boxes (or does it?)

same bird

and then there was this tiny, dark Herring Gull. I saw it in flight and it had a paler window on the inner hand which dispelled any ideas I had that it was a LBB Gull
another dark eyed Herring Gull
Arctic Redpoll (polarsisik)
possibly a different bird
Common/Mealy Redpoll (gråsisik)
I took this bird to be a Common/Mealy in the field although did note a large pale rump in flight. Note how it does have a single dark feather on the undertail coverts plus some darker streaks but that these can disappear depending on how the feathers are arranged
another Common/Mealy Redpoll

This bird shows features of both Common/Mealy and Arctic 
This bird must be a Common/Mealt with such dark plumage and large bill but look at that large white rump 
Rook (kornkråke) with Hooded Crows (kråke)

Kingfisher (isfugl) 
It seems to have a slightly paler base to the bill but I believe the lower mandible is black over nearly the entire length so this is a male

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