Monday, 31 October 2011

I was hoping for some seabirds when I left the house just after 7am this morning. On arriving at Krokstrand though I was greeted by a flat sea and no wind. Great viewing conditions it has to be said but that helps little if there is nothing to view.
In an hour I did see a single Kittiwake, 2 Little Auks, single Guillemot and Razorbill, 2 Velvet Scoter, 12 Common Scoter and 16 Red-breasted Mergansers plus a seal so it wasn't a complete waste of time. Also a Hawfinch in trees behind the beach, a Snow Bunting heard going over and a flock of 4 Blue Tits that gave every impression of being on southward migration.

Having come this far and it still being early I decided to head for Kurefjorden where the calm conditions would hopefully allow me to pick up any rare ducks/grebes that may be there. Well, 14 Slavonian Grebes was a very notable sighting and is many years since I have seen so many (and also seen them in winter plumage which was the norm back in Sussex). Here you can see three of them (at some distance):
Slavonian Grebes
Also over 40 Great Crested Grebes but unforfortunately no red-necked grebes. A hunting Peregrine caused some panic amongst the Grebes although I don't think they were ever going to be in trouble and a distant Great Grey Shrike perched on a bush. No waders to see and Mallards were the only dabbling ducks alongside a few Red-breasted Mergansers, Goldeneye and Eider. By the car park a White Wagtail was a late bird. 3 seals in the bay including 1 hauled up on a stone.
Continuing to Ovenbukta, a huge female Goshawk seemed to have a go for a Greylag Goose before thinking better of it. a flock of 30 Grelylag Geese here will soon be going south but a group of 3 Grelyag and a single Barnacle Goose hanging out on an island all looked to be injured and will presumably try to overwinter. 80 Goldeneyes and 40 R-b Merganser were feeding in the bay here but nothing more exciting. 3 Marsh Tits were in the bushes.
Popping in at Brentetangen there were no seabirds to be seen here but Crested Tits and Goldcrest were in the trees. This Goldcrest nearly resulted in a great photo (just try to imagine that the bird in as good focus as the pine needles)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Great Grey Owls popping up

No birding for me this weekend but things are being to hot up a bit in southern Norway. After a record breeding season in mid Norway it was no surprise when wandering Great Grey Owls started turning up in expected places. So far records have been from non birders who have realised they have seen something special and takan a picture but yesterday a birder found the first bird for Akershus. Less than half an hour from Oslo, the bird was found at dusk yesterday but despite much searching was not seen today. Undoubtedly there will be more records in the coming weeks but the real question is how many are lurking out there never to be seen?
Also Two-barred Crossbills are now being reported only 50km from Oslo so there is hope that some birds will turn up closer to home.

Friday, 28 October 2011

I decided in advance that I would stand at Haldenbrygge at Fornebu today and score some decent seabirds. Well I stuck at it - nearly 4 hours standing in the same place staring at the sea. And did I score? Well if looking at waves is scoring then yes, I score big time.
Despite the winds being of moderate strength from the south there was not a single bird that seemed to be new in. Best of the seabirds were a group of 3 Little Auks that landed close in but otherwise it was same old same old. Birding highlights were the Wheatear still present, 8 Twite and 2 Snow Buntings which are a rare sight in this neck of the woods.

Snow Bunting

Today did turn out to be quite a social birding event though with both PGY and PSL also present. Meeitng other birders around Oslo is not something that happens often especially on a week day.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Pictures from Fornebu

Black-throated Diver

Black-throated Diver

Red-throated Diver

Red-throated Diver

Red-throated Diver

Red-throated Diver

Great Tit


Grey Herons

A few hours leisurely hours at Fornebu today allowed me to take some photos including of a particularly photogenic Red-throated Diver. There were 2 of these, a Black-throated Diver and a few Guillemots, Razorbills, Cormorants and Gulls feeding quite energetically in close proximity of each other - presumably on a shoal of small fish.
Other highlights were a late Wheatear, Water Rail, the 2 Scaup still present, Sparrowhawk, Goshawk and Kestrel. Passerines were generally in very short supply with only a couple of Meadow Pipits, a Hawfinch and 6 Waxwings of note
On the fjord, a flock of 50 Common Scoter plus a Velvet Scoter which preferred to hang with the Eiders.

Tomorrows weather forecast is for strong winds in the afternoon from the SW - hopefully a few more seabirds will be pushed up the fjord.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Scaup and Blackcap

Quite cold easterly winds are blowing today but in a morning visit to Fornebu I could not see any evidence of new arrivals of passerines.
In Storøykilen were 2 Scaup, one being a 1K male and the other probably a 1K female but different to the bird of a couple of weeks ago. Also here a still stripy juvenile Great Crested Grebe, 2 Red-throated Divers and a Black-throated Diver. 16 Grey Herons here were a high count.
On the fjord no sign of skuas but Razorbills seemed to outnumber Guillemots now with new birds presumably blown in over the last week.
In the garden a female Blackcap today after a male yesterday. I seem to the only person recording Blackcaps in the Oslo area at the moment but I cannot believe the single elderberry bush in my garden represents a unique habitat!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Fornebu gives some quality

I popped into Fornebu this morning hoping to see if the Pomarine Skuas seen yesterday had lingered. Between 0930 and 1000 I had no sign of any skuas and few other seabirds except for a Little Auk and a few Guillemot and Razorbill. There was a selection of seaduck including Common and Velvet Scoter, Eider and Red-breasted Merganser. On the land were 9 Waxwings and a couple of Goldcrests and Robin in the bushes giving the feeling of migrants. The winds are turning east this week so maybe there is still a chance of that Yellow-browed Warbler.

I was able to return to Fornebu at 1230 and parked at Storøykilen with the intention of checking for passerines. I met another birder and the usual question of much about? was met with an answer of no...but I did have 3 skuas off Rolfstangen. Yesterday? I asked, no an hour ago was the answer. The 3 skuas in question were a Pomarine Skua eating a (dead) Artic Skua and another Skua that was only seen distantly sitting on the sea and was either a Pomarine or Great. Well, 5 minutes later I was at Rolfstangen but no sign of any skuas. The other birder joined me about 10 minutes later but still no sign of any skuas. Then the gulls started making a racket but no birds looking like a skua to be seen. Then looking up there was a raptor and a very large raptor. A 1K GOLDEN EAGLE drifted over!!!! It had come from the direction of Bygdøy and was continuing towards Storøya. I snapped off a few pictures but they have come out very poorly against the light sky. Here are an original picture and a heavily cropped picture which I have brightened to allow some of the plumage details to be made out.

Golden Eagle

After getting over the shock of the eagle which was a year tick and an Oslo & Akershus tick I then spent some more time looking for skuas. And then finally at some distance I picked out a skua sitting on the (calm) sea. Going to full zoom I was able to confirm it as a Pomarine Skua most likely one of the birds from yesterday.

I feel now that I am finally get some reward for what I consider to bs some real effort I have put in this year. There are still a couple of weeks when something might turn up and easterly winds might just do the trick. A male Siberian Thrush turned up on Røst today and it will have to make its way south!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

A better seawatch

There have been weak southerly winds most of this week but they were forecast to get stronger last night and today so the alarm clock was set and with Per Christian for company I headed for Hulvik. Hulvik is about 1 km south of Krokstrand where I was on Tuesday and gives a better overview of the fjord although birds are more distant and the viewing is more exposed (although today there was no rain and the temperature was about 10C so this was not a problem).
We were on site at 0810 and immediately saw that there were Kittiwakes flying around which is a good sign as they only occur here if they have been pushed into the fjord by strong winds to the south. After settling into position we also picked up a couple of Little Gulls (in total we had 8 during the day) and there were also auks passing both north and south with Guillemots probably the most numerous followed by Razorbill and a few Little Auks (we had 9 in total).
A Fulmar heading north was a very good sign as this pelagic species is definitely an uncommon sight so far up the fjord and always raises hope of shearwaters. This was soon followed by the first big big of the day, a GREAT SKUA which was lazily making its way south although frequently sat on the sea. It gave a good, if distant show, when it chased a Herring Gull and we then lost it out of sight down the fjord. We then had to make do with more Kittiwakes which were mostly going south although a few also headed north but then presumeably turned back again and a few more Little Gulls. All these gulls were checked thoroughly as we hoped for a SABINE'S GULL. Sure enough at 10.20 Per Christian called that he had an interesting bird and after careful study it turned out to be a 1K Sab's Gull. Views were not fantastic as the bird was a long way out in the fjord south of us but we had it in view for a long time and were able to clinch the ID. After this excitement things died down a bit and we were contemplating heading off somewhere else when Per Christian called skua. The bird was heading up the fjord towards us and I took a while for me to pick it up. When I did find it there were 2 birds and then Per Christian called 4 and eventually we had a flock(!) of 5 Arctic Pomarine Skuas heading north up the fjord at some speed. They paused only once and were all to soon lost to view. All were dark phase juveniles/immatures and surprisingly never turned and came south again.
In the bushes a few Long-tailed Tits were calling and as we left 9 crossbills flew over. They only called briefly but the call and seemingly small size strongly suggested they were Two-barred Crossbills although they will only go down as a possible.
Not many seabirds were reported to have penetrated the inner Oslo fjord today but there were 2 Pomarine Skuas seen lingering off Fornebu which with luck will be there tomorrow. Further south from our watch point there were reports of Grey Phalarope, Manx Shearwater and Pom Skuas but I think we can be happy with our sightings.
On the way back we scored Great Grey Shrikes at 2 separate localities and also had Sparrowhawk and Goshawk.
In the garden a male Blackcap is still lingering.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Late Blackcap and Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

Yesterday saw 2 male Blackcaps still eating elderberries in the garden which is getting to be quite a late record. Today I had a short trip to Fornebu. Very little to see in a quite fresh westerly wind with a late Wheatear and 11 Snipe the highlights.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


Little Gull


Little Auk


There were strong southerly winds last night which is normally ideal for pushing seabirds up the Oslofjord. I decided therefore to watch from Krokstrand this morning which is where the Oslofjord narrows and is therefore a good place to watch but best of all you can watch from the comfort of your car which is quite important in the cold and rain!
I arrived just before 9am (an hour after sunrise) and immediately picked up a Kittiwake very close in. During the next 40 minutes there was a steady trickle of birds heading south at close range. These were birds that had been pushed up the fjord during the night and were now making there was out (south) and the now SW winds were pushing them very close to the eastern shore. Unfortunately after around 0940 things dried up (what did I miss in the hour before I arrived?).
In total I had 16 Kittiwakes of which 4 were adults and 12 1st 1K, a single 1K Little Gull that came very close and really tested my photographic skills (and the autofocus on the camera), 3 Fulmars, a single Little Auk and a handfull of Guillemot, Razorbill, Common and Velvet Scoter plus singles of Red-throated and Black-throated Diver.

Driving back through farmland at Pytt (where I had 4 Quail in the summer) I had a single Great Grey Shrike plus a few flocks of Fieldfare, Redwing and Yellowhammer,

Monday, 17 October 2011

Annual Oslofjord boat trip

Sunday was the day for the Bird Club's annual boat trip. We had fantastic weather with blue skies and little wind and over 70 people turned out making it a bit crowded on the boat.
Before the boat had even got underway a bat (vannflaggermus in Norwegian not sure of the english name) was flying up and down the quayside looking a bit like a Crag Martin (I wish!).
No great rarities on the 3 hour trip but a Little Auk was a year tick and 3 Razorbills were the first I've seen in the Oslofjord this autumn alongside around 20 Guillemots. Common Scoters were numerous with around 70 all of which were in female/immature plumage whilst the 9 Velvet Scoters seen were all adult males - sounds like something to be investigated using satellite tracking!
Otherwise 2 Purple Sandpipers on a little rock in the middle of the fjord alongside a seal bobbing in the water. We also had a seal hauled out on a rock on a larger island which gave great views.
As the trip was coming to an end the possible highlight nearly happened. A Red-necked Grebe (which would have been a much overdue Norwegian tick for me) was called but all I could see was a Great Crested. Luckily (?) after a minute or so it appeared that we were all looking at the same bird and it indeed have crests ;-).

Friday, 14 October 2011

Garden feeder

With the first frosts already here I though it would be good to fill up the bird feeder with sunflower seeds. Maybe I should have done so earlier! They are getting through a feeder a day. Already there are 10 Tree Sparrows, a handful of House Sparrows, Greenfinch, Blue and Great Tits and (unwelcome) Marpie and Hooded Crow.
The Blackcaps seems to have moved on even though there are still berries on the elderflower bush but Fieldfares are still around probiing for worms in the lawn.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Ice on the puddles

Another morning at Fornebu. It was down to -2C last night and there was a frost on the ground and ice on the puddles. Maybe this has given the cue to a lot of birds to head south as there were far fewer passerines evident compared to last week. Highlight was a Great Grey Shrike that disappeared as quickly as it had appeared perched on a tree top.
Only 2 Water Rails calling today - maybe they too have decided it is time to be heading south and the Scaup had gone although there were now 8 Tufted and 5 Teal present. The Black-throated Diver was also still present as were 3 Chiffchaffs.

Monday, 10 October 2011

5 Water Rails

The first snow of the autumn fell in the mountains this weekend causing chaos for people driving back to Oslo after a half term holiday spent in the mountains. Overnight temperatures in Oslo are now going down towards zero and we had a lot of rain on Sunday but today was dry and crisp.

A morning at Fornebu was on the cards. I could not relocate the Med Gull although it had been seen at the weekend although not by everyone who went looking for it. I did have 5 Water Rails calling (squeeling) in a small reedbed and actually saw 2 of them - 1 in flight and 1 glimsped through the reed stems. The young female Scaup was also still present and gave good views with 3 Tufted Ducks. 2 Chiffchaffs were the only warblers (although there were still Blackcap in the garden this morning). My hopes of finding a Yellow-browed Warbler must be minimal now but I will keep trying!
Waxwings are definitely arriving with a minimum of 15 in the area and a few hundred thrushes mostly Fieldfares and Redwings. I had very good views of a Black Woodpecker although only managed this lousy photo:
Black Woodpecker

Numbers of Meadow Pipit (3) and Skylark (2) were significantly lower than last week and for the first time there were no Wheatears. In fact except for the high number of Water Rails and arriving Waxwings there were few obvious new birds but clearly reduced numbers of many others.
On the fjord there are still a few Guillemots, drakes Eiders are coming back into their fine breeding plumage and 3 Common Scoter and a late Black-throated Diver were new.

Here is a picture of the juvenile/1st winter Scaup with 3 Tufted Ducks. This isn't the most obvious of birds but I reckon there are enough features visible here to be sure it is a pure Scaup and not some sort of hybrid.

Friday, 7 October 2011

A crisp autumn day

A morning at Fornebu in fantastic crisp autumn weather gave a good selection of birds although I was unable to relocate either the Med Gull or Richard's Pipit. There was a small but constant passage of thrushes, finches and Meadow Pipits and good numbers of Bramblings were later to be seen feeding in Birch trees alongside a couple of Lesser Redpolls. Highlight was when within a minute whilst standing in the same place i saw or heard Waxwing (the first of the autumn in the Oslo area), Water Rail, Chiffchaff, Lesser Redpoll, Brambling plus various thrushes and tits. There were so many birds calling at the same time it was difficult to identify all the calls.
Otherwise a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was as always a nice sight, a female Merlin, a Scaup with some Tufted Duck and 3 Blackcaps.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

A red bird day

After a few days holiday in Denmark with a visit to Legoland the highlight I was keen to get in a bit of birding today. On the ferry journey back last night there was some very choppy seas so I thought there may have been some birds blown up the Oslo fjord although when we docked this morning the sea was very calm around Oslo so the chances were slim.
I went to Fornebu and drove to the Sjøflyhavn where the views are not the best but you can view from the car. Scanning the sea there was virtually nothing to be seen over the sea. A couple of distant Black-headed Gulls were feeding over the water and then what on first glance looked like a 1st winter Common Gull flew past and then away from me. Wasn't the bill too dark though and the mantle too pale? This bird needed a close look! Unfortunately it kept flying away but then at about 400m range it turned and slowly started coming back towards me along the shore line. As it came closer I saw that indeed it was a MEDITERRANEAN GULL - a norwegian tick for me and also my first self found national rarity since I have been living here (although I do have a White's Thrush and Little Egret to my name from my time as a love tourist - whereas I am now a love resident).
I frantically got the camera out of the car and snapped off a couple of record shots before calling Per Gylseth who happened to be only 10 minutes walk away and then sending out a message onto the national bird alert system. I have only been a part of this system for a couple of weeks so this was my first indeed a red letter day (or perhaps more correctly a red bird day as national rarities always show up in red font).

Mediterranean Gull

Although the bird came close I didn't manage to get any mega photos although I suspect that it would come very close if offered bread.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Garden Blackcap

A Blackcap is still in the garden feeding on elderflower berries. This is starting to be a late bird although if the warm weather continues then it may hang around for a while as there are plenty of berried on the tree.