Tuesday, 18 June 2019

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

 The last two days have involved a bit of birding, a bit of butterflying and a bit of dragon/damselflying and even looking at some plants in warm but rather too windy conditions. The wind has been from the south and encouraged me to sea gaze this morning but with no seabirds to be seen other than a Black Guillemot which is my first from Fornebu and probably a bird that has been seen (very) on and off in the inner Oslo Fjord for a couple of years.

In Maridalen I had a great time with a dragonfly hunting Hobby yesterday although am not happy with my photos with no money shot of the dragon being caught. There are male Red-backed Shrikes at two sites in Maridalen. One is at a site where I had been expecting (hoping) them to breed but had given up hope. By the behaviour of the male and his complete uninterest in playback I assume he has a female on eggs nearby. The other male though responded vigorously to playback and is therefore unpaired and is also I believe the same bird I had on Friday although at a new location.

Hobby (lerkefalk) 
here it was using the wind to almost hover and look for dragonflies

and here eating something

the very long wings give a distinctive silhouette

here it is holding a dragonfly (see nest picture) although looks much bigger here

if this had been in focus and taken 1 second earlier then it would have been the money shot I was hoping for!

with dragon

male Red-backed Shrike (tornskate)

the Marsh Warbler (myrsanger) that was singing high up in a tree and gave me a bit of a headache. It was also ringed

and a Marsh Warbler singing in a more expected place

Three Ringed Plovers (sandlo) and a Little Ringed Plover (dverglo) at Fornebu

this is I believe a straigtforward SmallPearl-bordered Fritillary (brunflekket perlemorvinge) boloria selene 
while this one is I believe a Pearl-bordered Fritillary (r√łdflekket perlemorvinge) boloria euphrosyne

same as above

and same again- there is a real carpet of flowers in Maridalen now

my first Small Copper (ildgullvinge) of the year

Sunday, 16 June 2019

No Nonsense Noctural Nightjar

Pretty much all birders keep lists of some kind. For some it is the list that is the be all and end all of the hobby whist for many lists are just a by product of the recordings they make of their observations although these lists are undoubtedly also a motivation to search for and see new birds. My interest in lists has declined the older I get but there are still three lists which excite me. My self-found Norwegian list, my Maridalen (local patch) list and my Oslo list. I think for a Maridalen tick that I would literally drop everything if I got a phone call but I am a bit more relaxed about my Oslo list and would probably go the next day.

My Oslo list is (now) 231 species but that is only good enough for second place with Eric Roualet having 238 (it is rather telling about the birding interest in Oslo that the #1 and #2 places are taken by immigrants who arrived here as adults…). Eric has lived here longer than me and was very regular to Gressholmen (vital for waders) but has now moved out of Oslo which gives me a chance although not far enough that he can’t easily see birds here ūüėČ

Seven of the last ten new birds on my Oslo list were self found which is how I like it but if I am to close that gap then I will have to increase my local twitching. One big gap on my Oslo list was Nightjar. The species is regularly recorded in one area but I have always been waiting to hear one in Maridalen. Given that this area is only 15 minutes drive from home and that this year’s singing male has seemed quite easy to hear then I thought why not. I have never actually seen a Nightjar in Norway with just a few records of them singing at distance until last year when I heard one singing very close in the dark. In the UK I did see some displaying in the twilight but never had good views so if I was going to twitch one in Norway it would be nice to see it well. And that is exactly what happened on Thursday night. After a couple of cold wet days Thursday evening was dry and Per Christian and I headed off into the forest with mozzie spray and camera ready. Unfortunately, I did not take tripod or superzoom but the night was one to remember none-the-less. The bird started singing very close to where we had been waiting at 2315 and over the next 25 minutes we had an amazing display with it flying around us, landing close to us, churring, wing clapping and giving two types of call. It was using an area around some electricity lines where the trees had been cleared and it frequently nearly flew into the cables with only a last minute stall allowing it to avoid them. Sometimes it was flying around so slowly that it seemed to defy physics that it was still airborne.

My pictures and video (hand held bazooka in the dark) have definite room for improvement but for a first attempt with the species I am happy.

Nightjar (nattravn) at 23:26. Taken at ISO12800 1/100sec

the white spot in the wings show this to be a male

taken at 23:17 ISO6400 1/160sec
here it was wing clapping although I am not sure if the sound comes when the wings are at the top (as here) or when they are at the bottom

churring from a tree 

here it landed close to us (as a result of use of playback) and proceeded to display and quietly chur (as can be heard in the video)

ISO12800 1/100sec.

Friday, 14 June 2019

The Dale continues to deliver

This week has not only been about reminiscing about the weekend and I have been out in the Dale although with lots of rain my visits have been short. There has still been lots to see though. The Three-toed Woodpeckers seem to have failed with their breeding as a 70 minute vigil at the nest hole on Wednesday failed to reveal any birds however a female (must have been the unpaired one toe) was drumming on Friday at the initial site. Also yesterday I watched a pair of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers at their nest hole feeding noisy young with the adults coming as often as every 10 minutes. Icterine, Wood & Marsh Warblers and Common Rosefinches are still singing and after seeing a lone female earlier in the week I had the rare honour of hearing a male Red-backed Shrike singing today. I have previously noted that I have only heard Red-backed Shrike sing once before and it was very interesting to hear it today. It sang a lot but the song was very quiet and was almost drowned out by other species which were much further away. I also noticed a lot of mimicry with it copying Willow Warbler, Redwing and Wren.

On Tuesday I had Honey Buzzard which I picked up on call and reckon I have an idea where they might be breeding which will warrant a proper search at some time.

a pair of Black-throated Divers (storlom) showed well on Maridalsvannet and have presumably been flooded out due to changing water levels

this bird was preening its underparts and was rowing along with the upper leg

adult male Common Rosefinch (rosenfink)

female Goldeneye (kvinand)

and here with three of her young

female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (dvergspett) with a mouth full of food

one of the youngsters

the male

the singing male Red-backed Shrike (tornskate)

and a lone female at another site

female Three-toed Woodpecker. Although I never saw the right foot I am sure this is one toe

even though the Whooper Swans (sangsvane) have failed with their breeding attempt this year they are still present and will presumably stay in the valley whilst they moult

this male Pintail (stjertand) was a surprise on Akerselva, the river which runs out of Maridalsvannet
I picked this Honey Buzzard (vepsevåk) up on call although it took me a couple of minutes to see it

Green Hairstreak (gr√łnnstjertvinge) 

Pearl  Bordered Fritillary (r√łdflekketperlemorvinge)
by far the most common butterfly in Norway so far this year is the migrant Painted Lady (tistelsommerfugl) which has arrived in the millions. They are all over the place and I even had the at 1400m in the mountains
and some dodgy hand held bazooka vidoes

and the barely audible (and drowned out) singing Red-backed Shrike who makes an amazing variety of noises including lots of mimicking