Friday, 20 April 2018

Another hybrid Harrier!

It is difficult finding time to blog and edit photos at the moment which is a sure sign that it is spring migration and observing the birds (and spending time with the family) is taking up all my time.
On Wednesday I kept it local again with visits to Bygdøy and Maridalen. The flood at Bygdøy is looking really good and 43 Teal and 3 Wigeon are very good counts for Oslo as were 22 Curlews that flew low over and their calls gave a magical feeling. In Maridalen I was hoping to observe raptors as the winds had turned south and it was nice and sunny. Six species must go down as a good showing. Local Buzzards and Goshawks were frequently up in the air, a Kestrel, a Peregrine and 4 Sparrowhawks went north and three different Ospreys were presumably newly arrived birds checking out breeding sites before returning to the open waters of the fjord for some fishing.

Yesterday, Thursday, was a GOOD day. I gave Bygdøy a quick once without finding anything new, before heading for Årnestangen. Once again I had hopes of finding raptors and I succeeded. I had two and half species of harrier, Osprey, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk and the Harriers were the real joy. First, I had prolonged views of a male Hen Harrier hunting in the scope. He was then joined by another male which flew through going north and I lost both these birds. I then had a female Hen Harrier going north, a female Marsh Harrier going north and then a female Marsh Harrier hunting. After a couple of hours I sat down to eat my lunch and scanned with the scope. I picked up a male Harrier hunting in the same area as the male Hen from a couple of hours earlier, but this bird was different. It was long range but the black in the primaries was not that large, the dark trailing edge to the wing was indistinct and the bird was a pale grey rather than blue grey. All this pointed towards Pallid Harrier yet the jizz of the bird was more Hen and the pattern of the black in the wing tip wasn’t right for Pallid. But it needed closer views. I hastened to cover the 1km between me and the bird and sat down on the edge of some trees where I had last seen it. 5 minutes later and it appeared and didn’t seem to notice me at first such that I got some OK pictures (although that 7D mkII would have done the trick…). The bird was clearly not a Pallid but there was still lots that didn’t fit with Hen. Looking at the pictures at home and consulting with friends seems to confirm that the bird is yet again a hybrid Pallid x Hen and the second time I have found one (and both at the same site and therefore possibly the same bird). When will I find a pure male Pallid??
Other birds of note were a hybrid (yes another hybrid) Pintail x Mallard, a brief glimpse of a Long-eared Owl, a very early Tree Pipit and two territorial female Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers of which I took loads of photos that I will have to edit and publish later as there are too many to go through.
An obligatory stop in Maridalen on the way home revealed much less snow, the first Wheatear of the spring, lots og Meadow Pipits and a Swallow so things are looking good!

presumed hybrid Pallid x Hen Harrier. It has 5 "fingers" which excludes a pure Pallid but the limited black in the primaries and especially the grey outer two primaries is not right for Hen as is the thin grey as opposed to broad black trailing edge to the wing

the 2 blurry pictures botom right could easily have been used to document a pure Pallid and just show how careful one must be with photos.
a Long-eared Owl that I accidentally disturbed

male Pintail x Mallard hybrid

and an early Tree Pipit (trepiplerke)

Curlews (storspove) from Bygdøy

and Pink-footed Geese (kortnebgjess) over Maridalen 

the first Wheatear (steinskvett) of the year on the church ruins in Maridalen

and a piece of plastic that will udoubtedly become the most photographed bird of the year

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