Friday, 26 October 2018

Excitement on the islands

I had fun on the islands today despite it being cold and relatively birdless. On Gressholmen I walked over a grassy knoll and heard a call from the rocky shoreline beneath me. I couldn't place it and thought maybe a Rock Pipit. I then heard the call again and thought Kingfisher before seeing the maker in flight and it was a Common Sandpiper. But the call wasn't quite right! I listened to a recording of Spotted Sand and then started getting very excited. The bird had landed a few hundred metres away and I needed to get closer. This meant running and working up a sweat.

The bird kept ahead of me but eventually I was able to watch it from about 100m. The distance was too great for an ID, but I fired off some photos and then played the call of Spotted Sand. It clearly heard it but didn't react by calling or coming closer. I then played the call of Common Sand and rather disappointingly got an immediate response. It started calling like a Common Sand and then flew over to me allowing good photos. This is the latest ever record in Oslo and Akershus by 13 days and therefore a significant record but still a let down from the expectations I had built up over the preceding 5 minutes.

But the excitement was far from over. I then heard a "spiz" call. It wasn't that close and I wondered if I really heard it. I then heard some other shorter calls coming closer and felt very unsure what I was hearing before having another spiz right overhead and then a final one further away towards Nakkholmen. I never saw the bird and it was clearly flying over but the bits fell into place - it was an OBP!! Now, I didn't see the bird or record the call (and the call is extremely similar to Tree Pipit), so it will never be accepted as an OBP and I will therefore report it as a Tree/Olive-backed Pipit. OBP has never been recorded in Oslo and Akershus before and nobody has reported unidentified Tree/OBP either but there are a surprising number of October records of Tree Pipit in Artsobs. Looking at these records a number are probably misidentified Meadow Pipits (based on location) and others may well have been better reported as unidentified Tree/OBP. 26th October is the (joint) latest date for Tree Pipit so again a significant record either way.

I searched both Lindøya and Nakkholmen for the pipit but with no joy and there were very few passerines to see. The Red-necked Grebe showed really well and traces of juvenile plumage could just be made out in the otherwise now winter plumage.

A phone call with Mrs OB who is celebrating her birthday today was rudely interrupted when a(the) 2nd winter Med Gull flew by and I was able to fire off a few shots before it disappeared towards the city.

So, the day ended rather satisfactorily! :-)

2nd winter Med Gull (svartehavsmåke) - probably the same bird as seen elsewhere

winter plumaged Red-necked Grebe (gråstrupedykker) with just a faint stripe left on the cheek showing it to be a 1cy bird

the striping is more pronounced on this side

Common Sandpiper (strandsnipe) - the latest ever record for Oslo & Akershus

these Oystercatchers (tjeld) are also late but will probably spend the winter

there were a few auks left on the fjord split evenly between Razorbills (pictured) and Guillemots

A French (?) submarine was in port

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