Friday, 31 August 2012


One of two Nutcrackers (nøttekråke) feeding in the garden this morning - note the bulging throat full of nuts!

I think I’ve been complaining too much about the seawatching recently afterall I did see 2 good birds in over 6 hours of sea gazing.
Today though I felt I could complain. Over breakfast I noticed a small creature creeping up my youngest daughter’s hair – a head lice! Out with the special comb and yes both the girls had them. Well that meant no school for them, no trip with Rune for me and a trip to the chemist to buy some poison. After administering the treatment and washing all bedding and towels I suggested a ride around Fornebu – this is always greeted with enthusiasm.
When we got there just after 1pm it was sunny, warm and there appeared to be some birds around. First a juvenile Buzzard (musvåk) was hunting close by (an unusual sight) and hovering before flying over our heads allowing me some pictures (I am slowly getting the hang of the new lens but am still not entirely satisified).

juvenile Buzzard

In the bushes there seemed to be good numbers of warblers with many Willow Warblers (løvsanger) and a few Blackcaps (munk) and whilst watching a young Whinchat (buskskvett) I noticed some movement around some berry bushes. The first bird I saw was a very large warbler, with noticeable barring on the undertail coverts, a big eye, a big bill and a generally plain grey plumage. Like a large Garden Warbler with barring – a Barred Warbler (hauksanger)! It grabbed a berry and disappeared in the bushes. I tried my best to relocate it but with two impatient kids I was limited to just hanging around the general area and occasionally peering at the bushes...without luck. Then when we were leaving it flew and showed well. In flight it was very distinctive. It resembled a shrike due to its size, strong bill and undulating flight. Additional plumage features that I picked up were its prominent wing bars and the white outer tail feathers which showed very well when it landed. Barred Warbler is less than annual in these parts and this was an Akershus tick for me.
Later whilst the kids were playing in a playground a male Bluethroat (blåstrupe) hopped around some bushes and a couple of Wheaters (steinskvett) also showed.
male Bluethroat

I really got the feeling there had been a mini fall at Fornebu today and just wonder what would have shown with an early morning visit.
Butterflies have been more obvious of late in what has generally been a very poor year for them. I had my first sighting of Brown Hairstreak (slåpetornstjertvinge) along with a showy Common Blue (tiriltungeblåvinge) which allowed themselves to be photographed.
female Borwn Hairstreak

male Common Blue

Thursday, 30 August 2012

I won't give up

Southerly winds blew all day today so I stared at the sea at Brentetangen again. The winds are coming from the right direction but there are just no birds so presumably there are no birds further south to be pushed up. Maybe it’s too early in the autumn, maybe there are not the right winds further south to push the birds out of the north sea or maybe there is little food and there are just no birds?
I wrote yesterday that I was hoping for shearwaters, skuas or terns. Well, yesterday I had one shearwater (and a good one too) and today I had one skua and one tern. The skua was also a good one, being a dark phase juvenile Long-tailed Skua (fjelljo) that first went north and a few hours later returned going south. The tern was an adult Common Tern (makrellterne) which wasn’t so exciting....

There was some migration today with small numbers of Barnacle (hvitkinngås) and Greylag Geese (grågås) flying south. This corresponds well with my observation of far fewer geese in Kurefjorden yesterday. There were also a few waders migrating south with a Whimbrel (småspove), a couple of Knot (polarsnipe) and Dunlin (myrsnipe) positively identified, a flock of 20 calidris too far out to identify and a flock of 4 probable Red-necked Phalaropes (svømmesnipe) but these were also just a bit too far out.
In the trees behind my observation point was a mixed flock of passerines with Crested Tits (toppmeis), Chiffchaffs (gransanger), Spotted (gråfluesnapper) and Pied Flycatchers (svarthvit fluesnapper) the highlights.

Two new attempts with the new lens

Crested Tit

Common Eider (ærfugl)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

One bird makes the day

It was windy last night with winds up to 15m/s from SSW. As forecast though the winds had died down this morning to around 4m/s from the W. When I got to Brentetangen at 0930 I expected to see a stream of birds flying south back out of the fjord and in addition that they would be close to shore due to the W wind. Instead I saw a lot of sea, an awful lot of uninterrupted sea. If any birds had been blown in by the storm then they had already left. A single juvenile Kittiwake (krykkje) feeding offshore was some evidence of a displacement but that was it. Where were the shearwaters, the skuas or the terns?
In the next hour and a half apart from a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls (sildemåke) making their way south I had 2 Guillemots (lomvi), a single Black Guillemot (teist) and a single Velvet Scoter (sjøorre) for my troubles and was thinking that it was time to be sensible and move on. Then at 11am I picked up a bird at distance to the north of Bastøy island. It was a bit smaller than a Common Gull with brown upperparts and head and a clearly visible pale belly. It was flying low over the water on stiff wings with a few flaps and then gliding and occasionally banking when it showed it underparts. It was making its way slowly but purposefully south and landed for a short period of time during which I lost sight of it before picking it up again in flight. Although the views were (very) distant, the light was good and there was no doubt this was a Balearic Shearwater (balearlire). This is a real rarity in Norway but a bird was seen further south in the Oslofjord at the end of July and it was high on my list of hoped-fors when I saw the weather forecast yesterday.  Due to there being so little wind the bird did not fly in classic shearwater style for long periods but then again Balearic Shearwater is more gull like in its flight than other shearwaters.
Moving on to Kurefjorden there had been an arrival of Ringed Plover (sandlo) and Dunlin (myrsnipe) but five Bar-tailed Godwits (lappspove)were the only scarce waders amongst them. Geese numbers were a lot lower than they have been and raptors were scarcer than last week.
The light was not great for photography and there were few close birds so I still have not tested out the camera properly. The pictures I did manage to take today were not very satisfactory due to light and heat haze and also because I need to get used to the lens.
Juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit

juvenile ? Buzzard (musvåk)

adult Common Buzzard

juvenile male Goshawk (hønsehauk)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

No Sanderling

Few birds and bad light have meant I haven't had any good opportunities to try out the new lens yet. Yesterday I had a Cuckoo (gjøk) in Maridalen and a flock of 8 adult Black-throated Divers (storlom) feeding close together. The juvenile was also present but sat on its own. This morning I saw the youngster again attempting to dive but it doesn't seem to have got the knack of it yet and there was a lot of splashing but it didn't seem to be able to stay under for more than a couple of seconds.

At Fornebu I tried to find myself a Sanderling (sandløper) on one of the offshore islands. At 1030 I glimpsed a single Knot which was feeding on the other side of the island but nothing else. An hour and a half later Andreas was out on his boat and had a Sanderling, Ringed Plover (sandlo) and Redshank (rødstilk). A further hour and a half after that I viewed the island again but this time the tide had risen such that the island was nearly submerged and there was only a single Oystercatcher (tjeld) to be seen. Looks like I have two choices: buy a boat or give up on seeing Sanderling this year.
In Storøykilen a single 1k Common Tern (makrellterne) was feeding which is the first I have seen for a while. Terns and Black-headed Gulls (hettemåke) appear to have left the Oslo fjord much earlier than usual this year probably as a result of a poor breeding season.
There have been a couple of juvenile Med Gulls (svarthavsmåke) seen in Oslo over the last week with one having been ringed in Germany but I haven't been able to find either of them.

Strong southerly winds are forecast tonight which will hopefully result in some seabirds being blown up the Oslo fjord. We will see......what's on the sea.

Monday, 27 August 2012


When a man passes 40 (a fate that has recently befallen me) he starts looking at his equipment and begins to worry that it is not as large or impressive as it could be and isn’t capable of doing all the things he would like to with the birds. This requires immediate remedy and luckily enough I didn’t need to answer any of the spam emails I regularly receive in order to nearly double the size of my equipment. Mrs. Oslo Birder knew exactly how to bring me up to size and all it took was 15 minutes and a few thousand kroner and I am no longer a paltry 70-300mm boy but have become a 150-500mm man.

Even though I was quite pleased with many of the pictures I managed to take with my basic 70-300mm F4-5.6 Sigma lens my new 150-500mm F5-6.3 Sigma lens promises to greatly improve the quality of the shots I take. The new lens is still (relatively) cheap and cheerful but one great difference to the old one is that it focuses silently and quickly – so much so that I didn’t think it was working! Hopefully my improved size will result in better pictures on the blog.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Kurefjorden delivers

Today was my best day so far at Kurefjorden. No big rarities but a nice selection of scarce birds in good weather and with good company. Ducks, waders and raptors were all well represented with highlights being both Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits (svarthalespove and lappspove) which is the first time I have seen both Godwits together in Norway, the Garganey (knekkand) still present, Shoveler (skjeand) and Pintail (stjertand), at least two Peregrines (vandrefalk), Marsh Harrier (sivhauk) and Hobby (lerkefalk).

The supporting cast was also good with Buzzards (musvåk) and Osprey (fiskeørn) nearly continuously visible with a minimum of 5 of each in the area but likely more, a single Kestrel (tårnfalk), double figures of Ringed Plover (sandlo) and Dunlin (myrsnipe), Ruff (brushane) and Grey Plover (tundralo). At one point we had a "kettle" of raptors with 2 Peregrine, 2 Buzzards, Marsh Harrier and 3 Ospreys.

North of Kurefjorden, the turf fields at Roer had two Red-backed Shrike (tornskate), 50 odd Yellow Wagtails (gulerle) plus 23 out of place Ringed Plovers.

My photography skills rather let me down with my camera still set to forced over exposure (after yesterdays high flying raptors) without me realising until quite late in the day. I managed a record shot of the Black-tailed Godwits and a much more satisfactory picture of this grasshopper (I've no idea as to what type it is).
2 juvenile Black-tailed Godwits

a very large, very green grasshopper

Thursday, 23 August 2012


I really should have headed for Øra, the rubbish dump which has an attraction for birds, as it has just had records of juvenile Caspian Gull (kaspimåke) and Yellow-legged Gull (gullbeinmåke) but my interest in rubbish dumps and former sub-species of Herring Gull (gråmåke) are not high enough to motivate me to make the journey. Given that both these gulls are very rare in Norway, would be Norwegian ticks and perhaps most importantly represent a chance to get to grips with real identification challenges then I should be more motivated but.....
Instead I gave Årnestangen a go with the intention of finding a rare wader. However, the water levels that were falling nicely on Monday have started to rise again so there was very little mud. Additionally there were three young Peregrines (vandrefalk) perched out on the mud which may have scared off some birds although the birds that were present seemed unphased by the presence of these master hunters. Waders were thin on the ground with just 12 Ringed Plovers (sandlo) and 7 Dunlin (myrsnipe). Ducks were also scarce although Wigeon (brunnakke) had increased to 100 and 2 male Pochards (taffeland) were amongst 18 Tufted Duck (toppand).
Raptors were the real highlight of the day with 3 different Marsh Harriers (sivhauk) seen at the same time, at least 5 Ospreys (fiskeørn), a Honey Buzzard (vepsevåk) which showed well as it thermalled, a Hobby and a young female Sparrowhawk (spurvehauk) that had fun chasing Magpies (skjære). I saw the Sparrowhawk at close range soon after I had left the car and had not checked that the camera settings were correct which meant that I missed the chance for some good pictures. Here you can see those I did manage which are unfortunately not very sharp.
juvenile female Sparrowhawk

half-heartedly attacking a Magpie
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On the way home I looked for a German ringed juvenile Mediterranean Gull that had been seen on Tuesday in Oslo but could not relocate it. In Maridalen I had a circling Osprey with a fish in its talons. It started calling and I looked around expecting to see another Osprey but instead found two high flying raptors that were interacting with each other. As they were always close to the sun I failed to get any decent plumage characters on them but concluded that that they were Common Buzzards (musvåk). I took some pictures which do not really help confirm the identification but do show one very dark bird to be moulting and the other looks very fresh indicating a newly fledged youngster. I have seen a very dark Buzzard a few times this year in Maridalen so today’s sighting points towards there having been successful breeding here this year. A Goshawk rounded off a good day for raptors.
Common Buzzard, adult top and juvenile below

Osprey with fish