Saturday, 11 May 2019

Two Ortolans

I finished yesterday’s post asking what the next new species for Maridalen would be. Well the answer came today: Black Kite! Not seen by me but photographed over the church ruins (where I had this RedKite in 2012). So four new species in the course of five days and five for the year including the Mandarin from a few weeks ago.

I chose to prioritise a harmonious life and did not go out early. I was very happy with my decision but it did mean I missed the kite plus a Marsh Harrier and an astonishing 11 Kestrel that Halvard saw together. I did get into the Dale just after lunch with the family and dog in tow. It was raining hard and we drove around first hoping that the rain would stop. No Kestrels were left (the wonders of migration) but three Cranes on the field where they had regularly been earlier in the spring suggests breeding has failed.

When the rain had almost stopped we went for our walk across the fields and I thought I heard yesterday’s Ortolan singing. I went searching and although it did not sing again I found it and got to see it fairly well plus heard it calling. I lost it for a bit and it was raining too much but I eventually found it again. Then it flew up into a bush where after a wait a handful of birds eventually flew out and down onto a field. I found an Ortlan on the deck but surely this was another much less brightly coloured bird? It again flew up and I then found the colourful male in the same area it had disappeared into and begun to question my skills again. But my pictures show without doubt that there was a male and a female (I was initially not sure whether it could be a 2cy male but I don’t think so now). I never saw them together and saw nothing to indicate they were a pair or the possibility of breeding but they were in exactly the same area. Ortolan has become an extremely rare breeding species in Norway with maybe no more than 10 pairs (more unpaired males) left in a very small area of Hedmark, to the north of Oslo where they seem to have a very specific habitat choice. Decades ago they used to be a common breeder in many areas of southern Norway in farmland and where they are in Maridalen looks to actually be a suitable breeding area. It is a very popular area with people indulging in “recreational” activities but enough other birds manage to breed there so fingers crossed although it is of course much more likely that they are grounded migrants and will move on once the weather is favourable for migration.

The Ring-necked Duck was still present and it was again interesting to watch the differences in its diving technique when compared to the Tufted Ducks.

the male Ortolan

the female Ortolan. Note the brown as opposed to green head and streaking on throat and breast
the male from other angles showing how orange he is on the underneath
and the female from different angles showing the extent of the streaking

the bedraggled male with tertials a bit out of alignment
looking very boldly coloured here (you could even wonder whether there are two males but we see the tertials are the same)
I never saw the two together but this picture at 13:37 shows the male
and this picture at 13:38 in exactly the same place shows the female but I have no picture with both in and if I remember correctly the male flew up after I took his picture and what turned out to the the female flew down shortly after
wet and worn Sparrowhawk (spurvehauk) that was hunting breeding Starlings
the three Cranes (trane) which appear to be a pair plus a friend. The middle bird is much darker underneath. Is this as a result of sitting on a wet nest that has now been flooded due to all the recent rain?
here one of them got a seeing to from what I assume was the male of the pair

Here a video of the Ring-necked Duck from today

And a video of some of the Golden Plovers from yesterday

And the Cranes not doing what I predicted they would do

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