Sunday, 29 April 2018

Dawn in Maridalen

Up at 5am this morning and 4 glorious hours in Maridalen before breakfast was a fantastic, if not particularly bird rich, start to today.

The first good bird was before I even left the house when I heard the croaking of a Red-throated Diver flying over the house whilst I was sitting on the loo! What was quite possibly the same bird was flying many circuits of Maridalen when I got there and seemed to be very annoyed that the lake was still frozen. A heavy overnight frost meant that the temperature was -2C at 0520 and all the edges of the lake had frozen over again.

Migration was pretty much non-existent except for a single Curlew (I had hoped for Whimbrel) and also a few gulls heading north. So I had no new birds for the year and instead concentrated on finding breeding species.

On the main island in the lake 2 pairs of Barnacle Geese seemed to be vying for ownership of the island although I suspect that the Mute Swan pair that was also there will win that fight should they decide to breed. A stop to listen into the forest east of Maridalen revealed a singing Black Grouse but no woodpeckers. Woodpeckers did reveal themselves other places though with a couple of Green and many drumming Great Spotted. The biggest surprise though was when I heard the drumming of Three-toed from an area I had always hoped would house one. After a lot of work I eventually confirmed that there were two birds drumming close to each other plus a Great Spot. It also looked like both the Three-toes were females but I will try to confirm that later in the week as I onnly saw one bird well at close range. After this I was able to enjoy the growing warmth of the sun and the sound of 100’s of frogs croaking and swimming in an enormous lake of spawn. I also found Whooper Swans on the nest, had drumming Common Snipe, displaying Green Sandpipers, singing Tree Pipits, Willow Warblers, Blackcaps and Chiffchaff and a male Kestrel catching and ripping the head off a mouse.

So, there may not have been anything too rare and the wonders of migration evaded me but Maridalen delivered the goods as always.

male Kestrel (tårnfalk) with mouse

here it has just started on the mouse and a large chunk of fur is sailing through the air

a still frozen Maridalsvannet and the main island where a few gulls try to breed plus Barnacle Geese (maybe also Greylag and Canada) and perhaps this year, for the first time, Mute Swans

female Three-toed Woodpecker (tretåspett) one of two drumming birds. It will be interesting to see if they were jsut moving through to a breeding site or whether they have already found their breeding site
a huge concentration of frogs and spawn

a family trip to Fornebu revealed this Moorhen trying to hide from us by submerging itself. I have never witnessed this before but have frequently wondered where Moorhens have disappeared to and this would probably explain it

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