Saturday, 30 July 2011

Bits and bobs around Oslo

The proper birding over the last few days but still a few birds worthy of comment. Whilst hanging up the washing on thursday i heard and saw at least 2 Spotted Flycatchers in the garden but I suspect there was a family party. Also a couple of Nutcrackers flew over. A drive around Maridalen in warm sunny weather revealed hedgerows full of young birds including many Spotted Flys - i reckon this year has been a record year for this species(at least in the last decade). A summer plumaged Golden Plover was sat on some rocks on the lale edge but otherwise no waders as the water level is too high.
A visit to the beach at Fornebu with the kids yesterday resulted in a very obliging male Reb-backed Shrike with a bill full of food and another visit there today had at least 500 Swifts as i scanned the skies - i suspect that the majority of the local Swifts have fledged in the last few days. As i write this i can here Swifts screaming outside which i believe is most likely to be immature birds checking out potential nesting sites (and mates?) for next year.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Back in Oslo

We are back in Oslo after being in Bodø. Thankfully we were away when the act of pure evil devastated this city and the entire peace loving country of Norway. Today I walked around town and was very moved to see the physical damage that has been caused and touched by all the flowers that have been laid around the city and the crowds of people paying their respect. One of the most noticeable things was how quiet it was despite there being many people around -there was no music coming from shops or bars and people were talking in low voices.

Our trip to Bodø was birding-lite but I did have my first Twite of the year. Otherwise I went for a few fishing trips which allowed me to get close to some of the birds out on the fjord (aswell as catch a few cod). There were a few adult Puffins and Razorbills fishing quite a way up the fjord and a long way from their breeding colonies which suggests a poor breeding season and little food at sea. A close look at some terns (only adults and no sign of breeding on an island which held young last year) revealed a couple of Common Terns amongst the more usual Arctic. White-tailed Eagles were not as obvious as they usually are but Grey Herons were seen in good numbers in contrast to the Oslo area where they are currently quite scarce following the consecutive cold winters. A Peregrine was a nice sight (I am still to see Gyr around Bodø although they are said to breed close by). Redpolls seemed to be everywhere and from our cabin adult Red-throated Divers were nearly always to be seen fishing before flying off to their young on fresh water ponds somewhere closeby.

On opening the waiting post I was very pleasantly surprised to see my photo of the Spotted Crake at Østensjøvannet has been published in the local newspaper and I have to admit the picture looked pretty good. Here you can see a photo of the article:

Around Oslo there has been a strong passage of waders at Årnestangen with hundreds of Dunlin and Knot seen along with good numbers of other species such as Curlew Sandpiper and Wood Sandpiper along with smaller numbers of many other species and a single Broad-billed Sandpiper. All have been adults so surely made for quite a colourful sight. I might not be able to get up there until next week but hopefully numbers and variety will keep on increasing.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Beitostølen photos

Ringed Plover trying to divert attention from its young

Shore Lark in its very distinctive juvenile plumage

Fantastic view from the top of Bitihorn mountain

Friday, 15 July 2011

Shore lark

I finally added Shore Lark to my year list with a juvenile on Valdresflya. This is the first time I have seen a bird in this plumage and it took a little time to work out what it was. Also a couple of Lapland Buntings, 2 female Scaup, a pair of Long-tailed Duck, Teal, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, ca.20 Ringed Plover, 6 Whimbrel, 8 Redshank, 12 golden Plover. The Ringed Plover numbers are easily the highest i have seen here although i don't think many pairs had young.
At the cabin we have had Merlin, Kestrel, Snipe, Woodcock, Pied Flycatcher and Redpoll amd a walk today gave Ring Ouzel and a pair of Rough-legged Buzzard.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


Found time for a trip to Valdresflya, one of the better sites for mountain birds in southern norway. There was evidence of lemmings everywhere with some areas carpeted in droppings and a number of fresh(and uneaten) carcasses but not a single live animal. I believe that the population must have reached peak levels earlier in the spring and has now crashed with many individuals simply starving to death. Birds were also scarce with a few Golden Plovers already flocking which suggests a poor breeding season. 5 pairs of Ringed Plovers all acted as though they had young or a nest nearby and one pair with 2 small young went through the full reportoire of tricks to divert our attention including the broken wing act. Otherwise a pair of Redshank, Wheatear, a female Long-tailed Duck and Common Gulls completed a rather meagre bird list. Driving back to the cabin a Rough-legged Buzzard was a nice addition.

Monday, 11 July 2011


We are currently at Beitostølen on the edge of the Jotunheimen mountain range. There seems to be a genreral absence of birds and butterflies this year although there is lots of evidence of lemmings. The weather has been quite poor so far which had prevented much birding but we have chalked up Bluethroat, Redstart, Wheatear, Kestreland Brambling around the cabin. On the drive up we had good views of a pair of Honey Buzzard circling over the road.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Photos from the cabin

Summer Fruits


Smooth Snake

Fledged Spotted Flycatcher playing dead

Spotted Flycatcher nest

My first ever view of a Corncrake

A normal "sighting" of a Corncrake

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Smooth snake

The Spotted Flys were making a lot of noise this morning and a check of the nest revealed it to be empty with some nest material on the ground. Both adults were hanging around the nest calling a lot and i didn't see the young so i fear the nest was predated just before the young were ready to fledge. At one stage one of the adults got very agitated with something on the ground. It was joined by a juv Pied Flycatcher, juv Redstart, Yellowhammer, Great Tit and Willow Warbler. I suspected maybe a stoat or weasel but it turned out they were mobbing a Smooth Snake which was only about 40cm long. It is not possible that this was what had predated the nest but it was on the receiving end of a right seeing to with strikes to the head from the scolding birds.
We picked many blueberries, raspberrys and wild strawberries today and yesterday swam in the sea so feel like we are living the summer "hytte" life in Norway.
Later in the day the adults were still hanging around the nest and one flew down with a butterfly. This must mean the young were alive and after a quite thorough search a single youngster was found low down in a bush in a frozen posture. The bird was less than 2 metres from the nest and looked incapable of flight. There was no sign of the others but they could easily be nearby although another option is that the nest was indeed predated but this single youngster survived and was forced to abandon the nest before it was able to fly.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Summer days

We are staying a few days at a cabin near Son (where we were a few weeks ago). The Spotted Flycatcher pair have 3 well grown young in a nest on the top of a pile of wood behind a garage only 1 metre above the ground. A juvenile Redstart was a sign of succesful local breeding and a male White Wagtail was very busy collecting food. Warblers were still singing including Willow, Wood, Garden and Chiffchaff. Woodcocks fly over the cabin in the evening and nearby a male Red Backed Shrike is still present where we saw a pair before so hopefully the female is on the nest.
A nocturnal tour revealed 4 Quails singing in the same area as before and in addition a Corncrake. This bird performed superbly and finally gave me views of a species i have only ever heard before. It was singing about 100 m away and flew towards me after i took out the i pod. It landed less than 5m away and started singing at full volume. I could see the corn stems moving as the bird came to within a couple of metres but i could still not see the bird. It then moved across the road and started singing from amongst low clover but still invisibly before again flying and giving good views. I will post a video when i am back home.
A visit to Kurefjorden turned up a few returning waders: 3 Temminck's Stints, 6 Dunlin, 7 Ringed Plover, 4 Ruff, Greenshank, Wood and Green Sand, Curlew. Also a female Shoveler, 20 odd Teal, 4 Wigeon plus many Eider, Red Breasted Merganser, Greylag Goose, Mute Swan and a few Great Crested Grebes.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Wryneck in the city

This has been a family weekend so I have not had a chance to see the Surf Scoter that Per Christian found on Saturday morning in Tønsberg - lucky swine!
Today we were in Frogner Park (Oslo's largest park) where our American cousins were showing the best of their culture and celebrating (a little early perhaps) the 4th of July. A fine collection of American muscle cars were on display including a Starsky & Hutch replica car - what a beast! Above the sound of line dancing music I heard a singing Lesser Spotted Woodpecker or Wryneck (I am loathe to make an ID based just on call as I find them so similar). From the location I assumed it would have to be an LSW but as it flew out of a tree top it proved to be a Wryneck. From the location and relative lateness for a singing bird I assume that this was a bird that has failed to find a mate and is now rather desperately searching anywhere that may look suitable.