BIRD GUIDING AROUND OSLO

Friday, 21 June 2019

Still surprising

I often have posts along the lines of The Dale delivers or The Dale surprises, well it keeps on doing both. Mid June should be a period of few surprises with all birds in breeding modus. Of course there can be some interesting breeding birds but I should have discovered these already by now.

Well over the last 3 days the Dale has given me Red-breasted Flycatcher (surprise), Honey Buzzard, Red-backed Shrike, Spotted Redshank (big surprise), Marsh Warbler, Three-toed Woodpecker, Common Rosefinch plus young Goshawks and Common Terns in seemingly three different ages classes plus loads more.

Red-breasted Flycatchers have bred the last two years so I had high hopes they would reappear this year but visits in May failed to reveal any and with very few having been recorded in Norway this spring I assumed that was that. But on Wednesday I felt sure that I could hear a distant singing RbF and as I excitedly walked closer it became clear that it was one. I then was very interested to see what the bird looked like – could it be the same old male from the last two years? No, was the answer, it was a 2cy male and therefore lacking the red. But this then raises questions. Did the pair whose nest fell down last year breed again unnoticed by us (not for lack of trying) or was this a completely new bird in which case the area has an amazing attraction for the species which otherwise is not recorded breeding annually in Norway. He was singing very actively in the 45 minutes I was with him but was not to be found again yesterday. At this late time of the spring an unmated male probably moves around a lot hoping desperately to find a female in time. The last time I was in the area was 4 June so the bird could also clearly also have been around for a while before I found it.

On Wednesday, I also first had a skydancing Honey Buzzard at some distance and then when I got to the area I had what was most likely another Honey Buzzard 20 minutes later and this one a female was dogfighting with a Peregrine!

I visited the Three-toed Woodpecker nest site just in case they were still nesting. The male was present and I followed him for over an hour during which he stayed within 100m of the nest including on a neighbouring tree but never visited the nest and there was no sign that the female was in the nest so I still believe nesting has failed but can’t be 100% sure.

Both male Red-backed Shrikes are still around and Marsh, Icterine and Wood Warblers singing. Common Rosefinches are present at one site where there is a pair and a male who is trying to get in on the action. Interestingly all three birds could be in the same area without there being any calling or singing but the paired male would actively chase off the other male only for him to return.

Yesterday on the lake three men from the Water Company (Maridalsvannet is the source of Oslo’s drinking water) were out on the main island. I only saw them when they were getting back on their boat so don’t know what they were doing or how long they had been there but the island was empty og birds and lots of gulls and geese were on the water plus also a pair of Black-throated Divers. It did not take long after the men had left for the gulls to return and one of the divers swam towards the island. I then suddenly noticed three waders washing themselves on the waters eddge. The distance was great but they were 2 Greenshank and 1 summer plumage Spotted Redshank! The only previous record of Spot Red here was also in June during rainy weather and these birds are most likely adult females that leave their breeding grounds after the eggs have hatched and leave childcare to the male. I rushed around to get close to the island but in the 15 minutes it took me the waders had continued on their way. I did see though that Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls were back on their nests and there were also at least 4 young LBBGs walking about so if the Water Company people had been trying to remove the birds for pollution reasons (which I understand they are allowed to do) then they hadn’t succeeded. I also saw that a Black-throated Diver was clearly on a nest which goes against my comment from last week that the divers ahd clearly given up nesting due to the high water levels. They have nested late before though and last year young were still being fed by their parents in September.

The final surprise yesterday was provided by Common Terns. This species is very irregular on the lake but yesterday I heard and then saw 4 birds. The surprise was not the number (which is a record) but the ages of the birds. Two looked like standard adults but one was seemingly a 2cy and the other was not quite adult and therefore I assume to be a 3cy. Non adult birds normally stay in the winter quarters so it is rare to see younger age classes in Norway.

Things are going well in both the Goshawk nests after both failed last year. In one nest there are 4 youngsters and in the other which is much higher up I saw one large youngster but there could well have been more.


Today I decided to spend some time watching the island with the breeding gulls and divers. I spent three and half hours there from 0925-1255 and can report that during that time the sitting diver did not leave the nest, none of the baby gulls were fed by their parents and that baby gulls are very good at hiding in grass. Oh, and you get a numb bum sitting on a rock for so long….

It looks like a female Red-breasted Flycatcher (dvergfluesnapper) but it sang so is therefore a 2cy male






female Honey Buzzard (vepsevåk) and Swift (tårnseiler)
with a 2cy Peregrine (vandrefalk). Here the HB looks very like a Common Buzzard (musvåk)


a male Blackcap (munk)

4 young in one of the Goshawk (hønsehauk) nests

a nest last used 3 years ago which now has grass growing out the top
the mother of the 4 young


and the other Goshawk nest where only one youngster was visible. Note how both the nests have fresh green branches placed on them

a Spotted Flycatcher (gråfluesnapper) on its eggs
male Three-toed Woodpeckers (tretåspett) and its seemingly abandoned nest hole


it is typical for this species to feed low down and also have a nest low down

Whooper Swans (sangsvane)

the 2cy Common Tern (makrellterne)

an adult Common Tern

same bird

and a bird which is possibly a 3cy due to a dark bill and black on the secondaries
female Goldeneye (kvinand) and young
female Mallard (stokkand) and young

male Lapwing (vipe) who clearly had a youngster nearby
and here letting me know my presence was unwanted

one of the Red-backed Shrikes (tornskate)

it is difficult to grow tired of Common Rosefinches (rosenfink)



a pair
and the female who is very non descript



I'm not quite sure whether this Sand Martin (sandsvale) has some sort of insect growing out of it or whether it is a tumor. I am also unsure whether it is missing its lower mandible or not
taken at 2km range this shows the Spotted Redshank (sotsnipe) flanked by two Greenshank (gluttsnipe)

Whitethroat (tornsanger) with food for young

and a male Yellowhammer (gulspurv) on the same errand

and here a newly fledged Yellowhammer
nesting Black-throated Divers (storlom) 
the nest is quite a way from the water but the horizontal line on the rock shows the (high) water level until recently. I waited 3 and a half hours to see this bird walk down to the water but it had more patience than me...

Herring Gulls (gråmåke) with 2 young
3 young Lesser Black-backed Gulls (sildemåke)
and a single youngster presumably just hatched as the adult was still sitting on other eggs
these 6 Lapwings (vipe) briefly landed on the island. It was unclear whether they were local birds or migrants but a concentration this early in the season suggests failed breeding

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