Friday, 6 January 2017

Fornebu and redpolls

After a bit of driving yesterday I decided to keep things local today and be a bit more environmentally conscious. We awoke to “only” -11C today and it gradually warmed up as the day went by and is forecast to be plus degrees tomorrow. As the warmer weather arrived it clouded over and there fell some very light snow.

I started at Fornebu where I was hoping to find the Bearded Tits were still around but I have had enough negative visits that I am resigned to the fact that they have either moved on or perished. There were quite a few Blue Tits in the reedbed which are probably birds that arrived in the huge invasion from the east in the autumn. There were also a few Wren’s calling and when I played the alarm call on my phone an amazing 8 birds appeared! Otherwise it was incredibly quiet but as I returned to the car a flock of 9 Waxwings brightened things up. Then a flock of 14 Redpolls flew over and landed in a nearby alder. I studied them to see if they were Mealy (flammea) or Lesser (or at least birds showing the morphological characters of these described (sub)species..) when almost the first bird I focused on proved to be a bit of a fluffy snowball – a northern Redpoll or an Arctic Redpoll (exilipes) as they are also still called. I managed a few photos before it then moved a bit higher amongst some other birds after which it became surprisingly hard to find when I had to look up against a white cloudy sky. There was a lot of variation in the redpoll flock with the majority of birds being quite pale Mealy’s but there was also a single smaller warm brown bird which matched my interpretation of the morphological characters of a Lesser (cabaret). This bird also occasionally kept a bit apart from the rest of the flock. I am usually very sceptical to claims of all three redpoll (sub)species/forms in the same flock but feel confident that was the case today…..

The fjord off Fornebu was very quiet with 3 Long-tailed Ducks and 30 odd Velvet Scoters the clear highlight.

A drive into Sørkedalen revealed nearly nothing and definitely no Hawkie and Maridalen was equally quiet. A trip to the dump at Alna was equally disappointing with no white-winged gulls to find.

Arctic Redpoll (polarsisik). This picture shows how pale it was with a nice straw coloured wash around the head and a small bill. The flank streaking is on the strong side and some would argue too strong for Arctic Redpoll but new ID criteria eg Garner says that this is OK for Arctic Redpoll especially as this bird would seem to be a 2cy based on pointed tail feathers.
here the extent of the white rump can be seen plus just a single thin black feather on the undertail coverts. Note also the white fluffy feathers on the leg

the bird showing the morphological characters of a Lesser Redpoll (brunsisik) 
all three of these birds look to be Common/Mealy Redpolls (gråsisik)

the same male as in the above picture. Note the heavier bill than the Arctic

The two upper birds are Mealy and note that extensive streaking on the undertail coverts. The bird on the lower right is possibly an (the?) Arctic (although I didn't notice it when I was taking the pictures as I was focusing on the Mealys). Note the small bill and fluffy trousers although the flank straking is possibly too strong.
Waxwings (sidensvans)

a frosty Wren (gjerdesmett)

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