Saturday morning was a very relaxed affair chez family OB. Just before noon myself and Jr Jr were sat half-dressed on the sofa doing sudoku, Jr had just got out of bed and Mrs. OB had returned to bed (we were at a 50th birthday party on Friday night and the effects were being felt). A message on my phone rather shook things up though. Anders BS had found what appeared to be a Siberian Tit at Fornebu (although with the head appearing black he was cautious due to the possibility of it having some Willow Tit genes in it). This was sensational! There is a tiny population of Sibe Tits that breeds in central Scandinavia and which I have tried and failed many times to see but the species is incredibly rare outside of its breeding areas and has never been recorded close to Oslo before.
I was dressed, opticked up and in the car quicker than you can say poecile cinctus and as I drove to Fornebu I rang Anders who could report that after 5 minutes in the same tree it had just flown down into the reedbed with a Blue Tit. I arrived on scene 10 minutes after that and was the first there but was too late! Despite more and more birders arriving we never found the bird again. So, I was a good twitcher in the fact I reacted and arrived so quickly but was my usual bad twitcher in that I didn’t see the bird. Maybe I should have done the others a favour and not gone for it… I stayed for two hours and searched widely and did find a number of Blue and Great Tits but heard nothing else with them except for a single tristis Chiffchaff. Andreas Gullberg had been at Fornebu earlier in the morning and had noted that tits including Willow and Long-tailed were on the move so maybe the Siberian was also just passing through but with luck it will join up with some tits in the area and be refound.
Whilst searching for the bird it snowed and it felt very fitting that a bird of the Siberian taiga forests arrived on the day that Oslo had its first snow of the autumn.
This is undoubtedly the bird of the year for Oslo and Akershus and highlights how anything is possible in birding.
I write the above at around 14:45 after I got home (having decided to leave Fornebu to get back to the family) and found the family had given up on me and gone out. I was going to title the post something along the lines of “Close but no cigar” or “Another failed twitch” but at 15:00 a message came through that the tit had been refound (it obviously helped that I had left). 14 minutes later and I was watching it! It was feeding low down in birch trees and was on its own apart from a handful of admirers from the species homo sapien. It was clearly not bothered by our presence as is often the case with northern species and although we kept a respectful distance I was incredibly lucky when it landed in a tree just 3 or 4 metres from me. I had to zoom out and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to focus but reckon I got some acceptable photos 😉
The colour of the crown seemed to change based on the light and could at times look quite brown and then seem almost black. My photos also often make it look darker than it looked through the bins so it is no wonder Anders was a bit cautious when he found it. The bird called surprisingly little (for a tit) but when it did call it was very similar to Willow Tit (just as I remember from Finnmark) and I’m not sure I would have reacted if I had just heard the call. I wonder if the bird will spend the winter like the Firecrest did last year and be just as difficult to locate.
It is fascinating to thnk where this bird has come from and why such a sedentary species has flown so far, and why to the warm south when it is a bird that has evolved to live in cold inhospitable forests? And why when it first does migrate why chose an old airport rather than the thousands of square kilometres of coniferous forest surrounding Oslo (or are there more out there?)
|Siberian Tit (lappmeis)!!!|
|here the contrsting brown colouts can be seen very well|
|the cap looks quite darker here|
|here the cap looks light brown in colour. In addition to the photos giving differing inmpressions of the colour it also changed in the field depending on angle and light|
|one Siberian / tristis Chiffchaff (gransanger) seen today|
|the days started with a flock on Waxwings (sidensvans) in the garden before sunrise|
|they were attracted by apples still haging on the trees (after a record bumper crop this year)|