Winter has really returned to Southern Norway and previously bare fields are now covered in snow and rivers and lakes are still well and truly frozen. This has had a real effect on birdlife with no migration going on except for birds fleeing Norway (the GPS tagged Bean Goose has fled back to Denmark!).
On Sunday evening and Monday morning I was guiding Richard from Singapore and just wonder whether one of us has severely p*ssed off the bird gods. An owling session just confirmed what I had feared that this is not an owl year and we heard no owls (although did probably see a flyover Tengmalms in the torchlight after using playback but it was too brief to be sure). Reports from Hedmark at the weekend were equally dire with zero singing owls despite vast areas being covered. Monday morning saw us at a snow covered Årnestangen with newly formed ice on the river. There were some waterfowl including a Smew and displaying Teal but passerines were nearly completely absent and the hoped for Great Grey Shrike couldn’t be found.
Today I travelled further afield to Kurefjorden with Anders and had a bit more luck. A flock of 400 or so Greylags on a snow covered field was looking very sorry for itself but contained 21 White-fronted Geese which are always a joy to see, a Pink-foot, 3 Barnacles, 22 Canadas and 2 Canada x Greylag hybrids. The mudlflats were frozen over but we found 20 sad looking Ringed Plovers, 15 Lapwing and a few Oystercatchers. Highlight was finally seeing the Bearded Tits which I had only heard when guiding a few weeks previously. We saw 3 males and a female feeding high up in the reeds and then the sound of a very distant military jet scared the birds and 16 flew up and over the reedbed! We also had a Great Grey Shrike to confirm how fickle the birds gods are.
A search of the Drøbak area failed to produce a previously reported Great Grey Owl but 25 Common Seals resting on an island was a HUGE count.
|Lots of variation in the extent of the black belly marking on the White-fronted Geese (tundragjess). The barring comes with age|
|the bird on thel eft is particularly well marked|
|spot the Beardie|
|3 male Bearded Tits (skjeggmeis)|
|male and female|
|2 male Velvet Scoter (sjøorre)|
|2 females on the right. I am unsure as to what explains the different head pattern but it is probably an age issue|
|my first Ringed Plovers (sandlo) of the year|
|lots of Common Seals (steinkobbe)|