Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Getting cold

Yesterday, saw me failing at twitching again. I had intended to go to Kurefjorden to look for a (Long-billed) Dowitcher found last week but it was last seen on Saturday morning so I had missed the boat for this Norwegian tick. A couple of good local birds were reported on Sunday evening though on an obscure private website that deserved some attention although I don’t know how reliable the reports are. One was a Firecrest at Østensjøvannet (despite them breeding this year this is still only the 3rd record of the species in Oslo) and the other a Hoopoe (a species never previously seen in Oslo). Of course, I failed to find them but that is to be expected when I twitch.

Birding wise it was all quite quiet and some Common Darters sunning themselves in Maridalen (after a heavy overnight frost – down to -5C) were perhaps the highlight with the dragonfly season now coming to an end.

Today it was wet and cold (not rising above +2C) but surprisingly comfortable to be outside. I walked out to Årnestangen without getting much of a reward although the 4 Ringed Plover and single Dunlin will probably be my last of the year. There were surpsisingly small numbers of waterfowl although a bit of variety with Shoveler, Gadwall, Pochard and Long-tailed Duck.

In Maridalen there are large numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares feeding on an abundance of rowan berries. This year has seen extremely bountiful crops on pretty much all berry/fruit/seed/nut trees which is being explained as a reaction to last years hot and dry summer. The abundance of food has meant that the thrushes are only now starting to move out of the forests and have yet to move into town to feast on the enormous quantities of apples in gardens. One good thing with there being such an abundance of fruit and berries is that the thrushes will hopefully not strip all trees bare meaning there is still food left for later arriving visitors such as Waxwing and hopefully Pine Grosbeak.

a cold and misty Østensjøvannet

lots of Coots (sothøne)
including the leucistic bird which seems to be getting even whiter

I had a few Chiffchaffs (gransanger) which all have an eastern look and call (sweeo) without being quite tristis candidates

Common Darter / senhøstlibelle / Sympetrum striolatum This individual looks to be of ssp striolatum as the black "moustache" does not extend down the face
this one has a moustache that goes down at the sides making it ssp nigrescens if I have undertood things correctly. This is also a character of Vagrant Darter /sørhøstlibelle but the black thighs on the forelegs should confirm it as a Common Darter
for comparison here is a Vagrant Darter from Fornebu 1 Oct. It is very similar but note that the thighs of the forelegs have a pale stripe on the back. Note also that the leg stripes are red coloured whereas they are yellower and darker on Common Darter. The end of the tail is also fatter in Vagrant

and here is a tricky one also from Fornebu 1 Oct. It seems to lack the hanging moustache so I had it nailed as a Common Darter. However the red colour to the leg stripes strongly suggests it is Vagrant Darter. Unfortunately we cannot see the back of the thighs on the forelegs

mating Common Darters

Friday, 4 October 2019

Half-term non birding

This week has been the autumn half-term holiday. A trip to the mountains at Beitostølen was called off when winter suddenly came early and we didn’t feel ready for it. The start of the week was warm and sunny in Oslo but we have also had rain, wind and the first snow flakes in the air.

My birding has all been incidental whilst airing either beast, children or both. This doesn’t mean it has been fruitless though with a heard only Yellow-browed Warbler at Fornebu, a very distant Shag at Bygdøy and some nice encoutners with commoner birds.

this Wigeon (brunnakke) showed very well on a small ornamental pod at Fonebu

which also hosted a Tufted Duck (toppand) of the "I want to look like a Scaup" variant

both ducks

the beast 
it is autumn

Cormorant (storskarv) dwarfing a Dunlin (myrsnipe) at Bygdøy
Shag (toppskarv) off Bygdøy - I reckon this warrants as a record shot
Greenfinch (grønnfink)

male House Saprrow (gråspurv)

and female
an young Moorhen but from an early brood such that it in adult plumage but still with the duller bill of a youngster

and a youngster from a much later brood

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Black-throated Divers

Last Thursday, I paid a quick trip to Maridalen to see how things were after my week on Værøy and had a memorable encounter with Black-throated Divers. A single youngster and adult were showing at very close range and the despite the late date the youngster was begging for, and getting, food from the adult. The youngster is definitely old enough to be looking after itself but is maybe lazy and has a parent that doesn’t know how to say no….. but whatever the reason all the youngster needed to do was to swim up to the adult and peck it around the face and neck and the adult would dive looking for food. The vast majority of dives did not result in anything but I did see one small fish delivered to the youngster but it was a crayfish that provided the most entertainment. Crayfish are a preferred food item at Maridalsvannet but clearly the youngster didn’t quite know how to deal with it. It was delivered still alive by the adult and the youngster then worked hard to turn it around so that it could swallow it. It was dropped and retrieved a few times but then clearly started sinking and the adult had to dive and collect and deliver it again. Eventually the youngster managed to turn it around and swallow it but it is clearly a fish rather than shellfish type of guy.

Black-throated Divers (storlom) adult an youngster

the youngster could dive and looked healthy but spent its time pushing mum/dad to provide for it (nothing familiar with that scenario...) 

the youngster has a very obvious line across the throat which according to the lieterature is a feature of Pacific Diver - looks like the reliability of that feature may have to be reappraised 

here it is nibbling the neck of the parent which prompted the parent to dive for food

more nibbling

more like biting here 
the tiny fish and some water weed being delivered

this crayfish was the main course though 
the youngster didn't seem too comfortable with this food item

it spent a lot of time trying to turn it into position to swallow it and also dropped it many times 

it looked like maybe it was trying to kill it by hitting it against the water

Monday, 30 September 2019

The Great Grey Owl

I posted a couple of teaser pictures of a Great Grey Owl before heading off to Værøy.
The bird became known to me when a picture was posted of it on our local Facebook birding group. It was hanging around in the rough on a golf course not far from Oslo and I later found out had been present for three weeks and was well known to the golfers! When I visited it showed really well and was hunting from statues, large rocks and trees. I didn't see it catch anything but there is clearly enough food to keep it going and it may well hang around for a while longer.
I had my tripod with me and managed some OK photos but missed a great opportunity when it flew past at head height after the battery had run out........

when I first spotted it