Monday, 30 April 2012


Today’s weather forecast was for sun, sun and a little more sun. A bit unexpected therefore to have rain and hail until early afternoon. I squeezed in two quick visits to Maridalen one in the morning whilst it was raining and the other late afternoon when there was glorious sunshine. Identical birds on both visits. The rain seemed to have caused an arrival of ducks but unlike last Friday they were diving ducks today: 15 Tufted, 36 Goldeneye and best of all a single male Common Scoter. Six Black-throated Divers today, although they are not necessarily new birds but just local breeding birds that are feeding on Maridalsvannet (there is just a single pair that breeds here).
In fields in the north of Maridalen an impressive flock of 400 Chaffinches which contained only 10 or so Bramblings.
In the afternoon I took the girls to ride their bikes around Fornebu. No real migration happening here but a single Wood Sandpiper was my first of the year and a Little Ringed Plover was flying around in its display flight.
The girls threw biscuits to the gulls and we had quite a good gathering of mostly Black-headed. One was colour ringed (it was ringed on 6 May 2011 on Bygdøy, Oslo as a 2k and this is the first sighting since)
Black-headed Gull J9P1. Apparantly a 2nd summer (3k)

Another had a Norwegian metal ring that I was able to photograph:
Here you can see that it is a Stavanger Museum ring and the first two numbers are 62 and the last four are 5631 but it looks like there is one number that I didn’t manage to photograph (I don’t actually know how many numbers there are on a Norwegian ring)

A noisy pair of Common Gulls

Smart adult "intermedius" Lesser Black-backed Gull

The local  male Mute Swan also wanted some biscuits

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Family bike ride

Whilst out in the garden today I heard a Willow Warbler singing nearby and had a House Martin low over heading to the local breeding colony. Last year I had the first bird over the house on 28 April which was the first record in Oslo so it seems that the local breeding birds are part of the first wave of migrants.
At the feeding station in the garden the a fine male Brambling was the first of the year here and a female Chaffinch which joined two males was the first of her gender.
A family bike ride took us up into Maridalen which is the longest we have ever managed and bodes well for the future. With blue, cloudless skies there was little happening on the bird front although I did make out 4 Teal and 3 resting Whooper Swans on the lake and 6 House Martins feeding over a field. Also the first marsh marigolds in flower.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Peace returns...

After all of the excitement of yesterday I thought I would visit Maridalen at dawn today hoping that some of the good birds would still be present. Unfortunately the still, sunny dawn that greeted me had ensured that just abiut everything from yesterday had departed overnight. Not a single Teal or rare duck remained, just 20 Goldeneye and the pair of Black-throated Divers. Little else to see either, just a few singing Willow Warblers and a Long-tailed Tit. Mammals were perhaps the highlight with Roe Deer, Fox and Beaver.

A further visit at lunchtime with the family resulted in my first Blackcaps of the year plus a Lesser Redpoll and a Kestrel but the highlights this time were on the reptile/amphibian front with many croaking and spawn laying frogs, a couple of toads and a lizard. The beavers have been very active and felled many trees including this one which held a nesting box used annually by Goldeneyes. Who said Beavers were harmless creatures?
Beaver destruction


Friday, 27 April 2012

Maridalen - does it get better?

Before I talk about Maridalen I'll start with the morning. Strong winds from SSW were forecast today so I thought it was time for my first seawatch of 2012 from Brentetangen in Østfold. I was there at 0625 and the winds were coming from the right direction but unfortunately there was low cloud and drizzle so viewing conditions were not the best (I frequently could not see the Vestfold side of the fjord). I had hoped to see some skuas given the record numbers in Southern England over the last week but unfortunately I didn’t score on that count. There were birds moving though. Until 0945 I had:
799 Common Scoter moving north, 3 Black Guillemot and 3 Long-tailed Ducks moving south, a handful each of Red and Black-throated Divers, 20 odd Velvet Scoters most moving south, an adult Gannet that flew strongly north before turning back south. Also eight Tree Pipits and two House Martins heading north and a couple of Willow Warblers singing in the trees. Two Arctic Terns feeding offshore were the only terns I saw although a Caspian Tern was sighted a bit further south on the other side of the fjord.
There was not much to see at Kurefjorden at high tide and with wind and rain. In the fields behind the fjord were a flock of 20 Golden Plovers but most surprising were 4 Greylag Goose goslings with 6 adults – they must start breeding the same day they return to the fjord! Also here another mad Blue Tit which attacked itself in my wing mirror. This is the third such bird I have seen this year – what is going on.
Mad Blue Tit #3

On the drive back I stopped at Årungen near Ås and here there were 13 Common Terns feeding with 20 each of House Martin and Swallow.
Having never seen Common Tern in Maridalen I thought it would be worth popping in to see if there were any there so that I could get another addition to my patch list. Well, I didn’t find a Common Tern but I did have 3 additions to my patch list!!!
First was a pair of Shoveler that loosely held themselves with 5 Tufted Duck and an impressive 70 Teal. I shared the news of this local rarity and soon there was a mini twitch as three of us (Ken and Asbjørn) tried to get closer views. Then I noticed another bird between us and the Shoveler – a male Eider looking very out of place! After enjoying these birds I then checked out Nesbukta and there was a female Smew with 15 Goldeneye. Three new patch ticks and all ducks – clearly a movement going on today. I thought I had seen 2 possible Garganey amongst the Teal flock in flight and whilst scanning the lake to pick them up (there were no Garganey) I found a flock of 10 Red-throated Divers alongside a pair of Black-throated. The Red-throated were very active swimming quickly and diving. There were also two House Martins hawking insects.
Spot the male Eider on Maridalsvannet - patch tick

At one stage the three of split up and Ken then had a female Hen Harrier only 500 metres from where Asbjørn and I stood without us seeing it. This is the third record here this spring with two males previously although I have not caught up with one. There has also been a Carrion Crow which is a very good local bird. This spring really must be one of the best ever in Maridalen – and it has only just started!

It doesn't look like my pictures will come back on their own account so I have begun the long job of relinking them. Thanks Google!

Thursday, 26 April 2012


This is the second time my pictures have disappeared from the blog and this time it's not my fault!

Hopefully they will reappear or else I have another days job of relinking everything.

Rather takes the shine off another Maridalen tick (my 4th this year) in the form of a long overdue Stock Dove.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Little new

The cold weather and north easterly winds continued this morning but luckily there was no rain.
No obvious new arrivals on Maridalsvannet but a Rough-legged Buzzard making its way north and a single Swallow were my first records here this year. A Black-throated Diver that flew in from the fjord joined 2 pairs on the water.  Two Crossbills heading north maybe a sign of a new influx after the species has been more or less absent since last year and a Long-tailed Tit was a rare sighting this year.
At Lillestrøm there was a pair of Little Ringed Plovers on the river and at Svellet Curlew numbers have fallen to 88 but 400 Teal remained. Single Greenshank and Redshank were new in and are hopefully the first of many hundred in the coming weeks. Also here 3 Swallows and 2 House Martins were a welcome sight. Snekkervika held 9 Greenshank and a Ruff suggesting little movement compared with two days ago. A pair of Ospreys over a nearby forest looked like they were looking for a suitable nesting site and singles of Kestrel and Rough-legged Buzzard headed north.
Bramblings were very noticeable today with over 300 noted at Snekkervika and many flocks of finches noted from the car that were most likely also Bramblings.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


With reports of a Green-winged Teal and a possible Black-necked Grebe on Sunday, Rune and I decided to visit Mjøsa in Oppland, an hour and a half drive from Oslo.
On the drive up we had three different Kestrels which is a good sign of spring passage. Our first stop was Totenvika where the teal had been seen alongside just a handful of common Teal. Teal numbers had risen to 41 and there was no sign of their American cousin perhaps indicating that there has been a movement of birds. We did have 3 Little Ringed Plovers, single Swallow and House Martin, Osprey, Buzzard, male Common Scoter, Wheatear and both Black and Red-throated Divers here.
At Kapp Brygge, sight of the possible rare grebe, we had to be content with three summer plumaged Slavonian Grebes, a single LRP, both Divers, a few Teal and Wigeon and 4 distant Guillemots. Guillemots arrive here (Norway’s largest lake) after autumn gales and have survived a number of years. There are even suitable cliffs although as far as I know there has been no evidence of attempted breeding. We also had a smart hybrid male Mallard x Pintail.
Leaving Kapp we spotted a roadside Ring Ouzel which showed additional white feathering suggesting some sort of leucism.
Ring Ouzel

Further along the road we had a close Rough-legged Buzzard and another Kestrel. The buzzard was a pale adult male judging by the hooded head, limited black on the belly and tail barring and was similar to a Common Buzzard with a quick glance.
Adult male Rough-legged Buzzard
Einavannet which was still mostly frozen offered us a couple of male Gadwall, a Greenshank, two fly over Golden Plovers, a couple of Cranes and a large flock of Twite sitting on telegraph wires and making a lot of noise (a great sound). In the field I estimated there to be 200 but counting the birds in the photo revealed 300!
Twite but how many?
We drove back via Hurdalsjøen but had little along the way other than a couple more Kestrels, a few divers and a Crane.
We rounded that day off at Nordbytjerent, a small lake I have never previously visited but which despite being surrounded by a path held Great Crested Grebes, Tufted Ducks, Coot and Barnacle Geese.
A total of 74 species is a good sign that spring is here..
Female Siskin

Two male Siskins. The closest bird lacking a glossy black cap so probably a young bird (2k)

In the garden in the evening 5 male and 2 female Siskins added a splash of colour but the biggest surprise of the day came when I connected the nest box camera to the TV to show how well it worked and we saw this:
Great Tit on camera

I have not even seen Great Tits in the vicinity of the nest box so for them to have made the nest and for the female to be apparently sitting on eggs came as a huge surprise. I have created a new page where I will record the comings and goings in the nest box.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Pied Wagtail

Walking the girls to school this morning in the drizzle I had a singing Willow Warbler (an early bird and my first this year) plus 4 geese flying north. This made me think that there was a big arrival happening.  I therefore drove around Maridalen with great anticipation but was to be disappointed as there was nothing new from yesterday.
Continuing up to Nordre Øyeren I was hoping that there would be a new selection of waders and ducks. First stop was the river in Lillestrøm where I had a Pied Wagtail type that seemed to tick the boxes of being a genuine bird rather than intermediate/hybrid. It was not an adult (3k+) male as it lacked a jet black back but may well have been a 2k male rather than a female. It had duskier flanks and a more even dark mantle than the bird of last week. I did not see the rump properly but from what I could see it was dark.
Pied Wagtail Lillestrøm
Svellet is still one big mud flat and the Curlew flock numbers 204 but with no other waders other than 13 Oystercatchers and a handful of Lapwing. Conditions are obviously good for ducks now though with 420 Teal, 2 Pintail and 2 Wigeon. I had 2 Ring Ouzel and a few Brambling from where I was viewing.
Driving around to the western side I stopped at Dynovika and had my first Little Ringed Plovers of the year (3 birds) alongside 8 Green Sandpipers, 60 Teal and 9 Goosanders.
Snekkervika was the highlight of the day. The mudflats here are not as attractive to Curlew or Teal with only 7 Curlew and no Teal but there were some other waders with 8 Greenshank, my first Ruff of the year, 4 Green Sandpipers, 2 Oystercathers and 10 Lapwings. In the marsh behind the bay there were 2 displaying Snipe plus 3 others calling, a pair of Curlew were displaying in flight, the pair of Gadwall were still present and a male Merlin shot over. Through the ‘scope I picked out a Great Grey Shrike further up Årnestangen.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Maridalen requries a polish

In overcast, damp weather Per Christian and I had a rather unproductive three hour pre-breakfast session around Maridalen today. The wind was from the north east and this seemed to put a dampner on bird activity with little evidence of new arrivals and only a few finches and Wood Pigeons moving over.
Highlights were a drumming Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (my tone deaf ears struggle to pick out the different woodpeckers but luckily Per Christian has better tone than me) and two or possibly three Merlins with a male and female seen together at Nes and a male 3km futher north later in the morning. On the lake a male Red-breasted Merganser, 7 Black-throated Divers and a pair of Tufted Duck and a single Snipe was on "snipe marsh".
Following on from my first sighting of a Hare in Maridalen we saw one lying dead in the middle of the road also this still mostly white plus we had a fox. The cold weather is forecast for the next week or so and hopefully when it lets up we will have a surge of migrants.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Thank you Kjetil!!!

Alternate title: Maridalen outshines itself!

At 1345 I received a call from Kjetil Johannessen. He was watching a Red Kite in Sørkedalen which was drifting off to the north east, i.e direction Maridalen (the next valley and 8km away). Well there was no question: in the car and drive, drive, drive.
On coming into Maridalen I immediately saw a large raptor down towards the water. Stopping the car it turned out to be an Osprey. Continuing to the church ruins which gives the best view of the valley I was in place at 1400. I scanned the whole valley and then concentred on the ridge to the south west. A large raptor coming straight towards me! Scope up – another Osprey, but I may aswell look at it. What’s that behind it? RED KITE!! It kept coming towards me and at 1409 it flew pretty much straight over my head. The light was very bad for taking picture of raptors against a cloudy sky but I fired off 70 shots and managed some acceptable photos.
Red Kite has been my target species over the last few days due to the easterly winds and time of the year so it was great to get the bird: a Maridalen and Norwegian tick. A slight shame I didn’t find it myself but a huge thanks to Kjetil for calling me.
Red Kite - Maridalen and Norwegian tick!

Earlier in the day I had checked out Snekkervika and Svellet in Nordre Øyeren with a pair of Gadwall and Pintail for my troubles. Curlew numbers had fallen to 209 but with 500 Black-headed Gulls there was still a lot of birds to see.