Friday, 15 September 2017

Water Rail

Even though I did not witness a large raptor movement yesterday there were birds on the move further south in Østfold close to the border with Sweden. Today’s weather was raptor friendly with sun, blue skies, a light northerly wind and a few nice fluffy clouds. I therefore thought it would be worth a trip to the Hellesjøvannet area. There were lots of Common Buzzards in evidence today, mostly perched feeding birds but also a few thermalling although none gave any real sign of being on migration. A single juvenile Honey Buzzard and a couple of Rough-legged Buzzards were migrating though and seeing all three buzzards in a day is I am sure a first for me. Despite this though it was far from a big day and the only other raptors I had were 3 Sparrowhawks and a single Kestrel.

Hellesjøvannet did give me some quality birding though. I had found a good sitting position to scan for raptors and from the nearby reedbed I could hear calling Water Rails (were at last 4 birds and probably a family). The edge of the reedbed went over into grassy vegetation and was bathed in sun and at least one of the rails liked this and showed really well (for a Water Rail that is). I fired off hundreds of photos but amazingly enough not a single one shows the whole bird unimpeded by either vegetation or shadows. Nice bird though.

I finished the day looking for the Taiga Beans. One of the tagged birds which had gone radio silent for a few weeks suddenly transmitted on the 13th from the breeding areas. It sent many plots that day and then went silent again before phoning home last night to say it was on the Glomma in Akershus. I wanted to find out how many birds were now on site and hopefully read some new collars. I found the birds on the river and counted 136 birds but distance was too great for any collars to be read. 136 is a lower autumn max count than I have had before so I hope there are still birds to arrive. The birds were disturbed by a boat on the river and flew up as one flock. They subsequently split into smaller flocks though and headed in different directions which is unusual and probably a result of smaller flocks only recently having come together and not settled into a common mindset. 

spot the Water Rail (vannrikse)

Water Rails are adapted for a life in the reedbed and are very thin birds

The Beans along the bank and some Canada Geese further out on the river

after taking off they headed SWW 

before heading north

this shows roughly the route I observed the birds taking. They split into at least three groups when they reached the northernmost point with I believe one group heading north to where there was a plot at 16:00. Two other groups (of 41 and 21) headed south again before turning round and heading north (before I lost sight of them) and I expect they joined up again at the 1600 plot which is the peat bog at Flakstadmåsan. 

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