Monday, 27 February 2017

A fleeting tick

It’s been a while! Last week was half-term holiday and skiing and a visit to England meant birding took a back seat. I did go for a nocturnal walk in the forests north of Maridalen hoping to hear Tengmalm’s Owl but had to make do with Tawny and Pygmy Owl. Tengmalm’s have been heard a couple of places close to Oslo but it seems clear that the areas with good numbers of rodents (and therefore owls) are scattered thinly and one needs to be lucky to be in the right area.

The weather since we returned from England has been nothing but variable. On Saturday it was snowing heavily, yesterday it was blue skies and rising temperatures and today it was +5C, rain and mist!

I did venture out today in the hope of an Oslo tick but one that will not last long. An Arctic Redpoll was a good find at a feeding station on Saturday and was still present today. A very frosty individual it was a distinctive bird but within the same flock of 30 odd Redpolls were a couple of other birds that could well be Arctic Redpoll but were perhaps too streaked on the flanks. And that brings us to the reason that the tick will not last long – Arctic Redpoll is on borrowed time as a species. New research has shown that the differences between Redpolls in both size and plumage are not backed up by DNA and that it is best to consider redpolls as one species which plumage differences being clinal and reflecting adaption to climate and habitat. Every flock of Redpolls one sees contains birds with a variety of plumages. Every now and again there are very frosty individuals that match the commonly accepted characters of Arctic but there are also many birds that leave you scratching your head and these are just part of the clinal variation of which Lesser Redpoll is at one extreme and Arctic at the other. The really frosty individuals will always be a joy to see (and a rare bird in Southern Norway) even if they don’t count as a “tick”.

This bird looks like a pretty classic Arctic Redpoll (polarsisik) unless of course it is from Iceland 
same bird. The undertail coverts are not pure white but are none the less good for Arctic

The bird on the right in the upper pic and left in the lower is (I am almost 100% sure) the same as the bird in the tree. Note how similar the other bird looks although has more flank streaking. Both are probably Arctic 
What I believe to be the same two birds. The bottom bird is a good Arctic (whatever that means) but the streaking on the upper bird is very bold although in Buskerud this would be an Arctic no problem ;.)

The Arctic- The very pointed tail feathers imply a 1st winter bird. The white rump is not  extremely large
What I assume is the same bird as in the tree although it may be another individual as it appears to have a bright white streak on the mantle which is not visible in the other pictures

This is the same bird in all pictures.  It is (I assume) a male Common Redpoll but does have a number of features suggesting Arctic
probably the same bird as above

probably the same bird again (would definitely be an Arctic in Buskerud!)

and what of the bird on the left? 
and this bird? (might well be same as above)
some nice dark, little to worry about, Mealy/Common Redpolls (gråsisik) unless they come from Iceland...

 I also had some Waxwings (sidensvans) today. Rosehips are about the only food left for them and are only now edible after being frost damaged

berries make one thirsty 

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