Tuesday 28 November 2023


On Sunday an Eastern Yellow Wagtail was found at Nordre Øyeren which is a first record for the Oslo area. I of course waited until Monday to go look for it and of course did not see it but that is the sign of a very good bad twitcher, of which I am one. I do however have a picture showing the piles of rotting corn where it was successfully twitched by the good good twitchers the day before…

Today I dropped into Fornebu and enjoyed a flock of 10 Bearded Tits feeding in the reeds at close range and that is pretty much all I have to report since my last post except that it had got bitingly cold now and I really should start wearing gloves and a hat (I have stopped wearing shorts at least).

8 of the 10 Bearded Tits (skjeggmeis)

the Maridalen Great Grey Shrike (varsler)

and a post at the moment wouldn't be complete without at least one pic of a Pygmy Owl (spurveugle)

female Teal (krikkand). There is always a bird or two wintering a Fornebu and always females. The same birds year after year?

a trip out on Sunday night to look for the Northern Lights revealed only a very bright and very nearly full moon

Sunday 26 November 2023

A surprise in the Dale

 Birds always have the capacity to surprise and that is of course one of the main reasons why I and many others (including I guess everyone who reads this blog) find birding to be an extremely rewarding hobby/obsession.

The last weeks birding was settling into a quite predictable pattern with generally few birds but the occasional encounter with Great grey Shrike, Pygmy Owl or Grey-headed Woodpecker livening things up. On Wednesday I was tempted out of Oslo when strong southerly winds had me sea gazing. The winds weren’t that strong and it is late in the year so I did not have high hopes but did expect to see Little Auk which used to be a regular late autumn guest in Oslo but which has suddenly become difficult to see in the last few year (probably just due to changing weather patterns than a decline in the species). A few Razorbills and Guillemots flew by but nothing smaller although further south good numbers of Little Auks were seen and also 3 Grey Phalaropes so my thoughts were correct but the wind just not strong enough.

But what was the surprise? Well, yesterday I had dropped Jr Jr and a friend off at the ski slopes for their first outing of the winter and then dropped into Maridalen. I always stop first at Hammeren to check out what is on the lake. Ice is starting to form in some of the bays but the main part of the lake is still open not that this means there are many birds. Cormorant, a couple of Goldeneye and the single Common Scoter are all I have been seeing and counting the Cormorants has been the most exciting thing to do. I have had up to 7 resting on a few exposed rocks but as I looked at those rocks yesterday there was only a single bird and it wasn’t a Cormorant but an adult White-tailed Eagle! I quickly got back in the car and drove closer where I saw there were already a couple of people watching it. W-t Eagle has become an annual guest to the Dale but normally a wandering young bird flying over. In the last few years though there have been occasional sightings of an adult both over Maridalen and around the islands in the inner Oslo fjord. This is probably a bird that has settled here and it could even be possible that there is a pair already breeding as they are surprisingly anonymous in the breeding season.

adult White-tailed Eagle (havørn) when I first saw it on the Cormorant rocks

a Cormorant (storskarv) did come into land but thought better of it

I wonder if the two dark patches in the tail will make it possible to individually identify this bird

one of two Pygmy Owls (spurveugle) I have been seeing. The noises that I occasionally hear make me believe this is a male

whereas this bird which is the one I see most often is I am sure a female

an adult male Goshawk (hønsehauk) that was displaying

this is a good winter for Redpolls (gråsisik) with some large flocks that occasionally contain the odd Lesser or Arctic. This Lesser Redpoll (brunsisik) though was on its own in a forest habitat where I was not expecting to find one

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Maridalen’s special birds this winter (so far..)

Monday and Tuesday were spent exclusively in Maridalen and were very successful. The variety of birds is not enormous with only 37 species chalked up but when they include great views of Grey-headed Woodpecker, Pygmy Owl and Great Grey Shrike then I at least am not complaining.

I had both the Grey-headed ‘peckers and one was seen feeding on fat balls and the other on apples highlighting again that they are not your run of the mill woodpecker.

I also had Pygmy Owls at 2 different which showed ridiculously closely and looking at my photos I think it was the same bird that had moved nearly a kilometre. I finally saw one with a mouse and I am sure this is a first for me despite having watched the species for many tens of hours over the years. Thinking about it, the only times I have previously witnessed any owls capturing food are a couple of times with both Great Grey Owl and Hawk Owl.

The mouse today was deposited in an old Great Spotted Woodpecker hole (most recently used by nesting Starlings) and the owl was straight out hunting again.

The Great Grey Shrike is easily the most trusting individual of the species I have seen and perched in the sunshine preening whilst I stood underneath it. The bird is an adult and could therefore quite likely be a bird that has wintered in the Dale before and therefore got used to being close to people.

Be warned that there are quite a few pictures 😀👇

not the closest picture I took of one of the Grey-headed Woodpeckers (gråspett) but my favourite

here looking for insects in cavities in a telegraph pole

the red feathers visible on the crown

and inspecting cavities in a tree

using its tongue

again on a barn. You will see this same barn in my Pygmy Owl pictures lower down

eating an apple

and eating fat balls

Pygmy Owl (spurveugle) with a mouse!

searching for food from the same barn that the pecker also visited

a selfie with a Pygmy

and from another angle (photo Glenn Martin)

on the roof top. The hearing is amazing. At one point it flew 30m after hearing a mouse behind it and immediately went into hunt mode low down in a bush
as you see here. It was leaning so far forward ready to drop down on a mouse that it looked as though it would lose its balance

this was the second owl I found which was hunting in a more natural terrain

heard something

look at those claws

all fluffed up

with an angry Nuthatch (spettmeis)

and some angry Yellowhammers (gulspurv)

decorating a christmas tree Norwegian style

the owl suddenly adopted this alert posture when a flock of Redpolls started mobbing it. Note the ears and how thin it looks

Great Grey Shrike (varsler) preening in the sun

there were some other birds such as this Black Woodpecker (svartspett)

and the long staying Common Scoter (svartand)

and a Treecreeper (trekryper) feeding on the same fat balls as the G-h pecker

every now and again I am inspired to take a photo that isn't of birds