Saturday, 1 April 2023

Fornebu's last breeding Ringed Plovers?

Fornebu stopped being an airport in 1998 and it was always planned that the land would be used for housing but the “development” has thankfully taken a long time although things have sped up recently and the last areas of derelict land are now being prepared for building work. Fornebu will never be as good for birds as it used to be and the nature reserves are not large enough or well enough protected from disturbance to have much of an effect.

Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers thrived on the derelict ground with a number of pairs of both species. Ringed Plovers have already returned but it will be a month before the first Little Ringed return. There is perhaps still enough stony ground for some to try to breed this year but whether they will be successfully is another matter. Yesterday I found 4 Ringed Plovers loafing around on what was a car park but which will soon be built upon. I was able to enjoy them at very close range and mull over the thought that this may be my last opportunity to do so.

Ringed Plover (sandlo), a female if I am not mistaken

there is still so much snow that there will not be a breeding attempt until it has melted which may take a couple of weeks

well marked male (left) and female

Friday, 31 March 2023

Double eagle and double bean goose day

Winter is still here and it is only in the middle of next week that we are forecast to stop having frosts. Maridalsvannet is now completely frozen again with the very small open areas where the rivers enter the lake once again covered in ice. The fields are also completely covered in snow and it will be a while before the Lapwings turn up again. There are reports from further south of large numbers of passerines in areas that are snow free so there seems to be a large wave of birds building up and waiting to push north.

Yesterday I visited the Taiga Bean Geese again. It is over a month since they first arrived but conditions are still not good for them and one wonders whether they have put on weight as they need to do before the breeding season. I expect them to be here for a couple more weeks at least and this will surely be their longest recorded layover here. The flock had increased to exactly 100 birds (don’t you hate it when that happens ūüėČ). There were no new collars/rings but X4 who I have previously seen was missing – dead or just another place?

When I first found the geese I did not have time to look at collars as they soon took to the wing and the reason soon transpired to be young White-tailed Eagle that cruised over. I enjoyed watching the eagle it then started thermalling and was mobbed by both a Buzzard and a Goshawk! Just over 5 minutes later I noticed a large raptor thermalling in the same areas and assumed it was the White-tailed again but no it was a young Golden Eagle!!! A two eagle day is no common occurrence in this part of Norway. The Golden showed was distant but showed well in the scope. Later I had both Kestrel and Sparrowhawk so 6 species of raptor is a sign that things are warming up.

After this excitement I hoped to find the Bewick’s Swan again but the field where it had been was covered in snow and there were far fewer Whooper Swans there. I returned to the Taigas and they were now back on the field allowing me to count them and read the rings.

At the start of the day I had intended to go to Aurskog-H√łland which can be very productive early in the spring but I decided instead to check out further areas along the Glomma river instead. This turned out to be a good idea when I came across a large flock of swans and geese in a snow covered field. Amongst Pink-footed, Greylag and Canada Geese I fould a group of 4 Taiga Beans and a single Tundra Bean. It is very rare that I find these two species together and it allowed a good chance to compare them. The Taigas were large birds and similar sized to Greylags whereas the Tundra was the same size as Pink-feet who it associated with. Otherwise I was surprised by how similar this Tundra was to the Taigas. It had a noticeably shorter neck but its bill shape was very similar to the Taigas- The head shape was noticeably different though with a steeper forehead.

Golden Eagle (konge√łrn) - clear moulting in the flight feathers leads me to believe this is a 3cy

White-tailed Eagle (hav√łrn) - I believe this is also a 3cy

Kestrel (tårnfalk). I had a wintering bird in January but this is my first migrant

The Taiga Beans on this years favoured field. The Taigas are mostly at the top with Pink-footed lower down


a Single Taiga with Whooper Swans showing off it swan like profile

four Taigas with a slightly out of focus Tundra Bea Goose behind on the right

The Tundra Bean with Pink-footed Geese showeing its distinctive head shape with a steeper forehead than the Taigas. Also notice the short neck and similar body size to the Pink-feet

here one of the Taigas is behind a Greylag and you can see how similar in size they are

four species of geese (the Tundra is missing)

This video has the 4 Taigas and the single Bean

this neck collared Greylag was ringed in Sweden and has been seen there every summer since but has only once been recorded away from there which was in Nov & Dec 2020 in Holland as can be seen on map below

Wednesday, 29 March 2023

The winter that keeps on giving and giving

 This winter is one of those old fashioned winters that your grandparents will have told you about and that climate change deniers will use as proof for their delusions. It is the end of March and it is still cold and it is snowing and spring is still to come. I must admit that enough is enough now though and having to shovel 15cm of snow this morning is I hope the last time I have to do it for 9 months or so. But it is not just the weather gods that are providing but the bird gods are also giving.

On Sunday birders and twitchers but few toggers were out in force enjoying a couple of good birds found by some of Oslo and Akershus’s finest. First Bewick’s Swans were found at 2 sites (this species has become so scarce that it should be a national rarity now) and then a male Black-throated Thrush turned up in a birders garden. I played it cool and waited until Tuesday to go for them and ended up having one of those days that makes you think that twitching has something going for it ūüėČ

I did not intend to go for the thrush but the swans were tempting especially as they were with a flock of Whoopers estimated at over 800 strong so I knew it would be quite a birding spectacle. On the way I could also check out the Taiga Beans and go for Woodlarks which I now knew were back. A couple of Woodlarks sang high above me despite it being -5C, the Taigas played hide and seek in an undulating field and then I was ready to go swanning. The flock was on what looked to be a potato field. The swans were arriving from the nearby river when I got there and I kept scanning and scanning for the Bewick’s and it wasn’t until a good half an hour had passed that I saw what I thought was two Bewick’s arriving with a small group of Whoopers. On the deck though I only found one and over the next half an hour continued scanning made me certain there was only the one bird present. A coupe of bugling Cranes flew over which were new for the year but there was no other viz mig to note.

It was now midday and I had intended to keep on looking for swans and geese but thought what the heck why not go for the thrush. It was an hours drive but 40 minutes of that was to get me back to Oslo so it wasn’t really out of my way…. I had very good instructions on where to park and where to walk to view the thrush without scaring it and when I arrived I also found chairs had been put out and another birder was already there – luxury twitching! She had only just arrived and not seen the bird but it only took about 15 minutes before it flew in for just a minute and showed relatively well before vanishing again. It seemed to be loosely associating with the few Blackbirds in the area which had arrived just before it did. This is my second Black-throated Thrush in Norway. After the thrush it was only a 15 minute drive to see the long staying Oslofjord King Eider. Despite it being about 2.5km out it was surprisingly easy to see in the scope and I even managed some video.

I might have twitch more often ūüėä

male Black-throated Thrush (svartstrupetrost) and the bill of a male Blackbird

Bewick's Swan (dvergsvane)

it was an impressive job by the finders to pick out Bewick's from such a large flock of Whoopers

the male King Eider (praktærfugl) at 2.5km range

Woodlark (trelerke) in song flight

some of the over 700 Whooper Swans (sangsvane), there were very few juveniles

Pink-footed Geese (kortnebbgås) coming into land

Taiga Bean Geese (taigasædgås) at the top and Pink-feet at the bottom

Great Grey Shrike (varsler) still in Maridalen

A Little Grebe (dvergdykker) has also turned up at √ėstensj√łvannet. Here it is with a male Goosander (laksand), Coot (soth√łne) and Tufted Duck (toppand)

Skylark (sanglerke)

White Wagtail (linerle)

Friday, 24 March 2023


The car has been in the garage for a couple of days and I used the chance to bird Oslo by public transport including on the boat out to Gressholmen. Despite damp, grey weather there was lots of life on Gressholmen with displaying Shelduck, Red-breasted Mergansers, Oystercatchers and Black-headed Gulls making lots of noise. 11 Ringed Plover was a very high count and may well be the entire local breeding population. The coastal breeding birds return early where as the birds that breed in the mountains or tundra do not pass through mid May. Chaffinches were also back and singing and it was pure heaven to hear them ūüėä. I was hoping for some more unusual migrants such as Rock Pipit or Snow Bunting but it was very quiet on the passerine front except for my first Grey Wagtail of the year.

With the car back I paid a visit to Fornebu today and could add Snow Bunting to my year list and in Maridalen I finally added Black Woodpecker plus had my first Mistle Thrush and Buzzard there.

The Oslo area is still very much in the grips of winter whereas places to the south but also inland to the north east have far less snow cover. We are forecast to have temperatures below zero again next week so there will not be any big arrivals of migrants for a bit.

here the male Shelduck (gravand) seem to be making the moves

but here it is a female chasing off another female

this video has displaying Shelduck and Red-breasted Mergansers (siland)

And this video has a sound I had not heard for over half a year

3 of the 11 Ringed Plovers (sandlo)

the Little Grebe (dvergdykker) at Frognerkilen now in near full summer plumage. Look how small it is compared to the (not very large) Goldeneyes (kvinand)

this gull caught my eye and had a definite Caspi vibe to it. It was ringed in Oslo on 26 July 2020 as a 2cy Herring Gull but the ringer also wondered whether it was a hybrid. Since being ringed it has been reported from exactly the same place year round

my first Maridalen Buzzard (musvåk) of 2023