Saturday, 24 August 2019

Studying Honey Buzzard

Yesterday was a VERY interesting day in the Dale. After all of Thursday’s rain I had expected there to be more migrant passerines on the deck but that was not the case. Instead we were back to Tuesday’s numbers with still 4 Red-backed Shrikes and a Bluethroat in the fields at Kirkeby. The Cranes were also still on theit favoured field so when I saw them circling high up on Wednesday this must just have been to stretch their wings

With a cloudy but warm morning leading to a sunny and hot afternoon I was hoping for some Honey Buzzard action and I was not to be disappointed. From my chosen watch point I was able to watch a male (the same one that I took pictures of on Tuesday and Wednesday in the same area) repeatedly flying with food to a (presumed) nest. In the course of 2 hours I saw him 6 times – 3 times heading NW with food in talons and 3 times heading back SE about 15 minutes later. He flew out of sight both to the NW and SE so I could not see where the nest or feeding site were but it was fascinating to watch and must count as proof of there being young in the nest. The food items look to be the (expected) wasps nests and were very thin sections. It would be absolutely fascinating to be able to follow a Honey Buzzard from when it wakes up and goes out searching for a wasps nest – it must have to pick up individual wasps and then follow them back to their nest! I would love to see it in action digging out the wasps nest (they are normally underground), dealing with the angry wasps and dividing up the nest into sizes it can carry (how many visits does it have to make to take the whole nest?)

This bird had a distance of at least 4 kms between the presumed nest and feeding areas so they cover huge areas in their search for wasps. One of the reasons that I see Honey Buzzards far more often in Maridalen in late August than earlier must be that the nests are in the forest 1-2 km from the valley and that they presumably are able to find food closer to the nest early in the season but have to travel more widely later as the young get larger and need more food and the locals wasps nest have all been located.

I only had one other Honey this time which was a bird that seemed to be migrating purposefully SSE. Other raptors were also less noticeable with only 2 Common Buzzards, 3 Sparrowhawks and an Osprey.

Biggest surprise of the day though came when I was scanning to try to find the Honey heading back north for the 4th time when I saw a flock of waders quite high up. I got them in the scope and they were 8 Grey Plovers heading SW!! Yet another new species for Maridalen and an Oslo tick for me. When I have been at Årnestangen and seen waders falling out of the sky I have always realised that there is a mostly unseen migration going on high over us so it was satisfying to witness it for once.

male Honey Buzzard (vepsevåk). Here clearly with food in its talons. The plumage and moult shows it to be the same bird I took pictures of on Tuesday and Wednesday

the three top pictures show it headin NW with food and the 3 bottom pictures show it ca.15 minutes later heading SE ready to collect more 

the approximate route followed
Bluethroat (blåstrupe)

Nutcrackers (nøttekråke) are very obvious as they collect hazel nuts

Red-backed Shrike (tornskate)

In the field I had this bird as an obvious Willow Warbler (løvsanger) but from my pictures I cannot manage to see why it isn't a Chiffchaff (gransanger) although it is perhaps possible to see that P5 is emarginated and not P6 (nerdy detail..)

Sparrowhawk (spurvehauk) - a 1cy female I think

and here is proof...... of the Grey Plovers (tundarlo). After watching them in the scope I thought I should try to see if I could get any sort of picture as they disappeared in the distance and this is what I managed :-)

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