Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Now we are talking!

I decided to shake things up a but today and be a bit rebellious – I visited Fornebu first and Maridalen afterwards!! I know, I know, I live life on the edge ;-)

Overnight wet snow had left the reedbeds partially flattened but this did nothing to make the Bearded Tits more visible although I was eventually able to ascertain that there were still at least two in Holtekilen and four in Storøykilen. I then decided to go out to Koksa which I haven’t done so much recently as there has been so little there. As I walked out I reminisced over the rare birds that I have seen at Fornebu over the years with two Isabelline Shrikes, a Siberian Stonechat, a Med Gull and Sabine’s Gull heading my list. I mulled over the fact that the chances of finding anything rare was getting less and less with the continued development of the site and it may be that Bearded Tits become the rarest species that the site hosts with any regularity.

When I arrived at Koksa a complete lack of life was confirmation of what my previous visits have told me. As I walked along hoping that maybe a Water Rail would call I heard a high-pitched call from the small copse by the path. There is often Treecreeper here but the call didn’t quite match and I had a feeling that it was something much rarer. I pulled out my phone and checked the call of Firecrest and got an instant match! This species has recently turned up in record numbers in Sweden, 7 have been seen in one area of Rogaland in west Norway and it looks like the UK has had very high numbers. I have had it on my mind for the last month and have always checked out Goldcrests when  I have encountered them away from the deep forests but was not planning on finding one today! But was it really one? It continued calling and I walked towards it without seeing anything and started to check the tree trunks for Treecreeper when I finally saw a small bird in a bush. Bins up and bang – Akershus County’s first Firecrest was a fact (following Oslo’s first record in May). This species was removed from the national rarity list this year due to a significant increase in records but they have been centred on the southern and south west coast.

I took a while to get any decent shots of the bird and melting snow from the branches above me kept falling on me and my optics, but I was happy with what I managed given the light and conditions. I didn’t get to spend much time with it as a message from my eldest meant I had to go and help her with something, but I got the news out and it was seen again later in the day.

Maridalen did get a visit later in the afternoon where a flock of 140 Yellowhammers is the largest flock recorded in Maridalen. I did not get to see them well but there must be a chance of finding a Pine Bunting amongst them…

It is fair to say that my case of birder blues has been (at least temporarily) banished!

the first picture I fired off - just what a record shot should look like!

Akershus's first Firecrest (rødtoppfuglekonge)

the thin orane stripe within the yellow crown shows this to be a male and I believe a 1cy bird as an older bird should have an even more orange crown

food was clearly not east to come by for an insect eater in the snow but I was surprised to see it on the ground
the reedbed at Storøykilen where the reeds were weighed down by the wet snow but 4 Bearded Tits still found conditions suitable for them
map from showing all the records of Firecrest in Norway clearly showing the bias towards coastal sites in the south and south west

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