Monday, 6 May 2019

Soft science

In an earlier life I graduated with an MA in Economics from the world’s greatest university (the one where they like blue in lighter hues). Now, economics is one of those soft sciences where no number of theories and complex models can hide the fact that Economists cannot with any real certainty forecast anything. Another soft science is the art of weather forecasting, aka meteorology and this softness cost me big time today (kids if you are reading this then its dry pasta for dinner this week). The forecast for today had been of a major return to winter weather. It had headlined the news yesterday evening with talk of us waking up to 25cm of snow and that if you had changed to summer tyres then the car must stay at home. The forecast had it to be raining or snowing all night and all day. I had a guiding assignment booked for today but they had originally been free both today and tomorrow. I therefore emailed last night to say that I would really recommend changing to Tuesday but the outcome was that they had already made plans for Tuesday and lost interest and cancelled completely! What made it worse though and the reason for the whole soft science nonsense is that when I awoke this morning it was dry and definitely not white and during the course of the whole day I did not get rained or snowed upon once. This change in the weather was also headline news….. (Norway is quite weather obsessed).

It was cold and windy today though and I did of course go out. I chose Årnestangen where I knew that water levels are already high (wader passage in any numbers will be a non starter this year) but it is May so there should always be something to see. The high water levels had indeed covered all the mudbanks but had flooded some fields so there were some areas suitable for waders. 50 odd Wood Sandpipers, 30 Greenshank, 17 Oystercather, 17 Lapwing, 8 Whimbrel, 7 Curlew, 7 male Ruff, 4 Redshank, a Little Ringed Plover, a Common Sandpiper and a few Snipe were the waders. Dabbling duck numbers were low with around 100 Teal, 40 Wigeon and amongst them a few Mallard, a pair of Garganey, a pair of Shoveler and a male Gadwall.

Best raptor was a Marsh Harrier and otherwise there was just a couple of Ospreys and a Kestrel. A few Yellow Wagtails were searching for food in the flooded areas and all were male Grey-headed except for one female type that may have been a Blue-headed.

At the weekend I had pre breakfast outings to Maridalen both days but with very little to show for my efforts excepts for a couple of Redstarts.

there are lots of Meadow Pipits passing through at the moment and the first Tree Pipits are also back. I had both feeding on a field in Maridalen today and got photos that allow me to show the plumage differences. I normally only use sound to separate these and had not actually noticed the Tree until it called. The Meadow Pipit (top) has much broader streaks on the flanks than the Tree Pipit (bottom) plus that the Meadow has a much longer hind claw. Note also the buffer flanks of the Tree Pipit.

Meadow Pipit (heipiplerke)

Tree Pipit (Trepiplerke) 

and a Meadow with a bug

female Yellow Wagtail (gulerle). Not sure what race it is

male Ruff (brushane)

male Redstart (rødstjert)

the subdued plumage and brown wing feathers show this to be a young bird, born last year

this Robin (rødstrupe) in Maridalen has clearly got something wrong with its neck but seems to be coping fine

a rare sighting of a Stock Dove (skogdue) in Maridalen

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