Thursday, 11 May 2017

Snow and birds!

We had a return to winter weather yesterday with snow and sleet all day! It is forecast to be the same tomorrow and then will then get a bit warmer at the weekend and next week.

I had high hopes for the snow today and in the end was not disappointed. I started in Maridalen and hoped that there would be a large fall of ducks and waders and the fields would be covered in pipits and wagtails. That wasn’t exactly how it turned out but there were 3 Wood Sands and 5 Greenshank on the fields (rather than the lake) which is unusual and there were quite a few thrushes including a Ring Ouzel. On the lake there was a Slavonian Grebe (only my 3rd record here) which showed very well despite the snow!

I decided at this point to warm up in the car and head out to east to Svellet and Aurskog Høland. I was hoping for lots of waders and had a specific plan to find Dotterel. Svellet has very little mud and much fewer waders although there were still 70 Wood Sands, 60 Greenshank, 15 Whimbrel, 6 Redshank, 5 Ruff, Oystercatcher, Curlew and LRP. The waders were quite flighty and there were higher numbers along the Nitelva River and on Merkja than yesterday. Merkja also still held a male Garganey.

Moving east I found a flock of 161 Golden Plover but no Dotterel can you believe it. I checked a number of other suitable fields and racked up a few small groups of Whimbrel and another small flock of Golden Plover but nothing else apart from Lapwings which all looked to have had their first breeding attempts ruined by ploughing but some seemed to have relaid.

At Hellesjøvannet there were hundreds of hirundines and I hoped their might be something good amongst them including Black Terns and Little Gulls but in the end I couldn’t even find a Sand Martin with just House Martins and Swallows represented. They frequently flew up alarm calling but the only raptor I saw was a Peregrine. I had no Marsh Harriers here but had two males later by Hemnessjøen which are probably breeding birds there. There were quite a few Yellow Wagtails and Willow Warblers feeding in the reeds at Hellesjøvannet where a surprising sound was that of a singing Reed Warbler.

I decided to head back to Oslo with enough time to pop into Maridalen and that turned out to be a good decision. I kept scanning ploughed and sowed fields and a black corvid made me stop. I first thought Raven but when it stood beside a Hooded Crow I realised I was dealing with a Carrion Crow which is not annual around Oslo. There is always the possibility of a hybrid but this bird looked all black. I also had to rule out a 2cy Rook but size and structure all match Crow.

When I got back to Maridalen it was still snowing and was not pleasant at all. I stuffed the camera under my jacket and went walking over the fields. There were now 2 Ring Ouzels and 2 Mistle Thrushes (rare here after April), 7 Wheatear (up from 2 in the morning), still Wood Sands, 400 Wood Pigeons and best of all a stonking male Lapland Bunting. It flew up from the path in front of me and flew around for what seemed like an eternity before eventually landing in the middle of the fields where some rocks means the farmer can’t plough. By this time it was snowing heavily but I managed some shots.

I then topped it all off by finding two male Bluethroats!

I was very happy with my day but it finished even better when I got a text from Stig Kalvatn at 1930 – 3 Little Gulls in Maridalen!! A patch tick for me which I was enjoying 15 minutes later. When I saw them they were resting on a rock in the lake but Stig had had them hawking over the fields.

As I write this at 6am it is still snowing heavily outside so I am looking forward to finding out what more Maridalen has to offer….

May 10th in Maridalen
male Bluethroat (blåstrupe) #1


The Carrion Crow (svartkråke) 
Carrion Crow and Hooded Crow
in this picture the bill looks much more like a Rook (kornkråke) but it just shows how careful one should be with poor quality pictures
Golden Plovers (heilo) but no Dotterel yesterday
Lapland Bunting (lappspurv) -  a surprisingly OK flight photo
and on the deck with Fieldfares (gråtrost) and a Chaffinch (bokfink)

photogenic Lapwing (vipe) 

3 adult Little Gulls (dvergmåke) in the gloom on Maridalsvannet - a patch tick!
male Marsh Harrier (sivhauk)

an unusual combination: Mistle Thrush (duetrost) and Wood Sandpiper (grønnstilk)

and late Ring Ouzels (ringtrost)

Slavonian Grebe (horndykker) on Maridalsvannet with Mallards. Note that one of the Mallards is an "intersex" bird 

some of the hundreds of Swallows and House Martins at Hellesjøvannet

waders at Svellet including Whimbrel (småspove), Oystercatcher (tjeld) and Ruff (brushane)

the weather made finding insects difficult and this Willow Warbler (løvsanger) was searching in a reedbed where a Reed Warbler (rørsanger) was singing

This female Yellow Wagtail (gulerle) is probably of the race flava with its strong supercillium and clean breast but females are not easy


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