Friday, 5 January 2018

Firecrest still surviving

Jules Bell was in town and in need of some birding and I persuaded him that we could do no better than a trip to Fornebu and yet another search for the Firecrest which was last seen 9 days ago. With fresh snow covering sheer ice on the ground and a cold wind in the air it was not very promising conditions though.

There were VERY few birds and next to nothing in the air. Water Rails and Bearded Tits were still going strong but no Goldcrests, Long-tailed Tits or Treecreepers showed and Wrens were the only insect eaters we noted. We are not ones to give up though and thoroughly checked out all suitable areas. After two hours Jules phoned to tell me he had heard and briefly seen a crest but without nailing the species. When I got to him the bird had vanished and we then split up again to look for it. A full half hour later I heard and then briefly saw a crest around 50 metres away but the bird then vanished without me seeing what it was. I tried calling Jules but I couldn’t hear him and then the battery died in the cold. I had to stick the phone down my pants and after 5 minutes of clammy warmth it vibrated and was back in life again. I still hadn’t seen the bird again but then suddenly there it was high in a tree and I saw the stripes! But then it was gone again. Finally after Jules had arrived I got control of it feeding on the ground and we were then treated to very close views as it fed on the snow at the base of bushes and clumps of grass. It remained silent during this period though confirming that a touch of luck is needed in addition to dedication to the task.

When I came home a flock of 20 Redpolls flew up from the feeders but unfortunately didn’t come back. As this was more individuals than I saw yesterday at the Botanical Gardens I am sure that the flock contained a least 3 different types! There is also a single female Blackbird and a Fieldfare eating the apples I put out in the garden. Until today the Blackbird was dominant but just before dusk I saw an intense fight between the two and the Fieldfare has now come out on top.

Firecrest (rødtoppfuglekonge) on the snow. I imagine that this bird is currently the most northerly observation of the species in the whole wide world!

it seemed to be able to find microscopic food items just above the ground

here it seems to be snapping at something

creeping through the grass nearly at our feet

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