Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Taiga Birding!

Yesterday, Anders and I went on one of my favourite day trips and the one where I take guiding clients in search of taiga specialities – the deep forests of Hedmark. The key targets for this trip are Hawk Owl, Pine Grosbeak and Siberian Jay with a number of other good species likely to be seen.
It is a 400km round trip and yesterday an accident on the motorway added 45 minutes to the journey but that may well have been a blessing from the bird gods as we jammed in on some birds that we wouldn’t have seen a minute earlier or later.

The outcome was that we saw 1 Hawk Owl, two single Siberian Jays, 2 sightings of in total 12 Pine Grosbeaks, a Golden Eagle, 3 Pygmy Owls, 3 Black Grouse and a Black Woodpecker. So, a definite success!

There was no wind which made for very good conditions for listening for birds but on most of our stops there was absolutely nothing to see or hear but this is how it is in the forest in winter. In fact the only birds we saw in the deep forest other than those listed above were 3 Willow Tits, 4 Ravens, 4 Bullfinch, 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker and 4 Magpies. Low cloud did however make the light a bit variable and the Golden Eagle disappeared into the fog despite flying quite low down.

Annoyingly we did not have good views of the Grosbeaks. A flock of 10 flew over whilst we were driving and landed a couple of hundred metres away in tree tops before disappearing and we had another two on the drive home in tree tops right by the motorway but had no chance of stopping.

We also stopped to look over Mjøsa hoping to find a White-billed Diver that has been observed occasionally but it didn’t play ball.

Hawkie is back. Even though my addiction is under control it is always a real kick to spot the distinctive silhouette of a Hawk Owl

Pygmy Owls (spurveugle) are much smaller but their pear like silhouette is equally distinctive
this bird became aware of something on the other side of it and adopted a very erect posture with "ears" raised
another of the 3 different Pygmy Owls we saw
Siberian Jay (lavskrike). You know you've had a good days birding if you see a species with "Siberian" in its name :-)

Golden Eagle (kongeørn) in the mist. It is not easy to age this bird based on this photo but the only white visible is a small patch at the base of the secondaries on the right wing and I would have thought this bird is an adult

Hot air balloons over Oslo as seen from Fornebu on Sunday

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