Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Taiga Guiding

Yesterday I was guiding Manolo, David and Cãni from Albacete, Spain who were taking advantage of cheap Ryan Air flights for a long winter birding weekend in Norway. They had had a couple of days birding on their own before leaving the best to last and hiring me to look for some taiga specialities. The wish list was long but expectations were realistic, and we hoped to find 3-4 new species but ended up with 6 and when these included both Piney and Hawkie then of course the guide was also very happy with the day J

I took an early morning train from Oslo to meet them in Hedmark and we spent the day driving snow covered forest roads. With the snow 2 metres deep there was no chance of leaving the road so the tactic is to drive slowly and scan continually and walk along the road at areas where things look good. With snow in the air it was not the best conditions but luckily there was no wind. Birds, were as to be expected, few and far between but we had 2 Hawk Owls, 10 Pine Grosbeaks, 2 Siberian Jays, Willow and Crested Tit, Black Grouse and a flock of flyover Waxwings from the car as the highlights. The Waxwings were one of the target species and the views were not satisfying but I was able to recommend a site where they saw a flock of 200 this morning before they had to get to the airport for 10am so they were happy campers.

We stayed out until after dark but failed to hear any singing owls despite being in an area where both Great Grey and Tengmalm’s should be expected. It was a cloudy night, early in the night and early in the season but I fear that this year will not be a good owl year and I only noted one set of rodent tracks in the snow the whole day.

Pine Grosbeak (konglebit) watching - undoubted highlight of the day and the first record for Hedmark county this year although is more a reflection of observer coverage

Pine Grosbeaks - as is typical they are feeding on buds and shoots on a spruce tree

Hawk Owl spotted!

and Hawkie himself

Sibe Jays in the bag

Siberian Jay (lavskrike)

Two Sibe Jays but unfortunately they weren't curious enough to come closer
and Black Grouse are sighted

male Black Grouse (orrfugl)

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