Monday, 9 April 2018

Frustrating day

I was guiding Angus and Denise again today and we headed north to see if we could find any Beans at the traditional site at Horgen/Udenes. We knew that tag 27 was here and wanted to see how many others were with her. Only 24 was the answer and it was easy to see why as there is still nearly two feet of snow on the fields. The birds were feeding where a tractor has driven during the winter and cleared enough snow that it has melted here revealing the stubble. The birds would nearly completely disappear when they had their heads down eating but we were able to drive up into a farmyard and come quite close to the birds. This showed that there was only one tag which was 27. 27 had a mate who was also tagged, 29 but this bird has not been transmitting for a couple of months. One option was that the tag had stopped working, another that it had fallen off or the third that the bird was no more. It would appear that the last option is unfortunately the correct one as there were no other birds with either neck or foot rings in the flock (all the GPS collared birds also have a coloured leg ring) and 27 seemed in addition to be paired with a bird lacking any bling suggesting she(?) has already got a new mate.

Another bird in the flock was hobbling and had clearly damaged primaries. A flight shot I got of this bird shows it to be the same as a bird that flew off north where we were watching the geese in Østfold on Saturday (all the other birds flew down to the river whilst this one headed north on its own and I speculated it was on its way to Akershus). A report from Østfold recorded 64 birds in addition to our 24 so we are still missing a lot of birds and the varying counts make one wonder whether some of the birds are moving around to unknown sites.

The rest of our day was quite a frustrating disappointment due to continuous rain and temperatures that never rose over 3C combined lots of snow and ice on fields and lakes. We had quite a few forlorn looking Lapwings, my first Golden Plover of the year and Cranes and Snow Buntings but it was not a good day for a bird guide.

An evening trip up into Maridalen revealed 7 Snow Buntings, Merlin, Kestrel and a (the?) pair of Whooper Swans back.

the birds are circled
a few of the 24 geese are just visible
Denise and Alan watching the geese
we drove up into the farm that you could see in the above photo and came much closer to the geese (circled)

the geese were exploiting the stubble where a tractor has driven during the winter

the black leg ring shows this to be 27 although it was very difficult to read the collar due to fading. 27 seemed to be paired with the bird to its left on the snow who was sans bling
this bird with a very damaged left wing and also a limp was the same as..

the left hadn bird of these three photographed on Saturday

Snow Buntings in Maridalen

Whooper Swan pair in Maridalen who were also exploiting where a tractor has cleared snow

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