Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Above the fog

It was back to sunny weather today although only if you were above the fog which covered most of Oslo. Luckily I did come over the fog and it was quite magical scenes that greeted me. I encountered large numbers of Waxwings and a few Grosbeaks and spent some time trying to get good back-lit photos of the Waxwings. This is clearly a skill I will have to work harder on but there were some promising attempts.

Waxwings (sidensvans)

Oslo is under the fog

no birds in the shot :-)

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Changing weather

The contrast between yesterday’s and today’s weather could hardly have been greater. Yesterday it was -7C, blue skies, crisp, dry air and not a breath of wind. Today was equally windless but even so the weather was not to recognise. It was still cold (-3C) but was cloudy and amazingly enough was RAINING! I cannot remember experiencing this before and the result was roads that were also more icy than I can ever remember. Main roads were OK but less used country roads were just ice rinks. There was also no sign of gritting trucks and after having foolishly driven down one country road didn’t dare do so again.

Yesterday I filled my boots with Waxwings and Grosbeaks and today also involved a lot of Grosbeaks including some in a school playing ground (camera and bins remained in car…). We checked out the sea at Drøbak today and had a few auks including Little and a Red-throated Diver but worryingly there were hardly any ducks. No Velvet Scoters and just a few Eiders suggest there is no food for them.

We returned early to Oslo and checked out the harbour. There was a lot of ice that had concentrated the birds. Yet again no seaducks but 1000 Goldeneye was a pleasant site and 2 Little Grebes were the first for the winter.

Waxwings (sidensvans) in beautiful weather

care to count them? This is not the whole flock

an another attempt at a back lit photo


Blackbird (Svarttrost)

Blue Tit (blåmeis) that also eats the seeds from the berries

Dipper (fossekall)

Little Grebe (dvergdykker)
and then suddenly there were two - it wouldn't surprse e if these are the same two birds that were Østensjøvannet earlier in the autumn

they make a surprisingly large splash when they dive..

part of a flock of c.1000 Goldeneye (kvinand) offshore downtown Oslo

Yesterday, there were some fantastic clumps of snow covered rowan berries that I would have liked the Waxwings and Grosbeaks to eat....
but I did get to see Piney pretty damn well!

the red feathers coming through on the head should make this a 1st winter male

Friday, 29 November 2019

A new ringed Grosbeak

After many, many days of gloom it was wonderful to have blue skies today. I used the day to walk the local area with the Beast in tow and hoped to find more Pine Grosbeaks (and who knows there may be a rare thrush out there eating berries aswell).

I only found Grosbeaks at the same site as where I had them yesterday but today there were 11 birds and most excitingly there was a ringed bird with them. I assumed that it would be the same bird discovered 5km away by Stig Johan on 12 Nov and which I photographed the next day but as I looked at the shots on the back of the camera I got a feeling that it was a different ring. I had to take over 400 pictures but once home I was able to make out the code although yet again I couldn’t quite make out what the address was although saw enough to deduce it was also from Finland.

I sent an email to the Finnish Ringing Centre and got an immediate response. The bird was ringed on 26.4.2017 1278km away in northern Finland and had broken the Finnish distance record for the species by 5km! It was ringed as an adult so would have been in at least its 3rd year meaning it is now at least in its 5th calendar year. A ringing recovery like this has no conservation value whatsoever (as regular readers of this blog will know I am skeptical to the majority of ringing that goes on) but is interesting and filled my time in an enjoyable (for me) way 😊.

deciphering the ring from 5 different photos. The ring NUMBER is easy to read but the the two lines with the address are very difficult to read - I have asked the Finns what is actually written there to see if I can reconcile with what I see.. The answer is that it says Museum Zool / Hki Finland.

April is around a month before the birds start breeding so we still don't know the origin of this bird. I would also think that Grosbeaks, like crossbills, are nomadic and might breed in very different areas from one year to the other

This is what an old male Pine Grosbeak looks like. This male was one of 4 in the flock and was noticeably deeper red in colour

another male biting into a berry to get to the seeds

the birds often flew to branches with snow which they ate (to get water) 
with snow on its bill after having "drunk"

the tongue is very important for finches when eating

there were other birds eating berries today. Here a female Blackbird (svarttrost)

and a Blue Tit (blåmeis)

and a Great Tit (kjøttmeis) which has also removed the seed from the berry and is not interested in the flesh