Sunday, 29 December 2013

2013 the year that was

2013 was a good birding year for me. In addition to my regular (some would say far too regular) birding around Oslo I had birding trips to deepest Hedmark and Oppland, Finnmark, Værøy and Falsterbo in Sweden.

After a succesful rarity finding year last year I only managed 2 self found national rarities in 2013: Montagu's Harrier (enghauk) and Red-flanked Bluetail (blåstjert), although would have fared better if Green-winged Teal (amerikakrikkand) had not just been removed from the list as I found three of these during the year! I managed to find a decent haul of scarce birds including Yellow-browed Warbler (gulbrynsanger), Richards Pipit (tartarpiplerke), Red-breasted Flycatcher (dvergsfluesnapper), Arctic Warbler (lappsanger) and Little Bunting (dvergspurv). I also had my first Rustic Bunting (vierspurv) and Greenish Warbler (østsanger) so I have now seen all the regular Norwegian breeding birds (not that Greenish falls in that category- yet) except White-backed Woodpecker which I have only made one serious attempt for.

The year started with Hawk Owls (haukugle) and Pine Grosbeaks (konglebit) still in good numbers (I wonder if I will ever again witness such numbers around Oslo) and finished with Two-barred Crossbills (båndkorsnebb). In between I managed to get pictures of all the breeding owls (except Snowy) and had great experiences with lekking Great Snipes (dobbeltbekkasin) and Ruff (brushane) and breeding Dotterel (boltit).

My local patch, Maridalen, delivered as usual good birds with Three-toed Woodpecker (tretåspett), Hazel Grouse (jerpe), Wryneck (vendehals), Shore Lark (fjelllerke), Red-backed Shrike (tornskate), Marsh Warbler (myrsanger), Rosefinch (rosenfink), Honey Buzzard (vepsevåk), White-tailed Eagle (havørn) and Thrush Nightingale (nattergal).

The following pictures tell (some of) the story of 2013:

this Glaucous Gull (polarmåke) was a one day bird in Sandvika near Oslo in January

a Kingfisher (isfugl) in Halden was one of the years highlights but wasn't so photogenic

I twitched my first Norwegian Water Pipit (vannpiplerke) at Mølen

one of the Pine Grosbeaks (konglebit)

and one of the Hawk Owls (haukugle)

Greylag Goose in the snow -  not rare or even unusual but a picture I'm proud of

finally a picture of a Tengmalm's Owl in the field

Crested Tit - a regular species in Maridalen

a confiding Water Rail

this Waxwing had been eating mistletoe
2013 also finally gave me an eagle Owl

spring 2013 was good for woodpeckers in Maridalen including this drumming Three-toed

Dippers are a regular bird on the rivers and streams around Oslo especially in the early spring

I spent quite a bit of time with the Scottish ringed Bean Geese in 2013 trying to read their neck collars - this picture was taken on their spring migration

Black-headed Gull
I found three male Green-Winged Teals in 2013

and also saw this hybrid (righthand bird)

I had found two of the Green-winged Teals whilst searching for Garganey but did eventually get to see this species aswell

a pair of Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers were a nice, if brief, treat in the garden
the very late spring resulted in unprecedented numbers of Ring Ouzels on passage
a rare glimpse of a Long-eared Owl

a Norwegian tick in the form of a White Stork

Little Ringed Plovers bred at Fornebu but with the pace of the construction work one wonders for how much longer

one of the treats of spring this Iceland Gull graced Oslo's main park and even got to wear some bling

Wrynecks bred yet again in Maridalen

this Shore Lark was a very rare guest in Maridalen

this female Montagu's Harrier was a good find for Rune and I on one of our regular outings

spring passage Bluethroats are probably the most colourful bird you can find

although maybe Common Rosefinch is better?

Red-breasted Flycatchers look like they are in the throws on colonising south east Norway

and Greenish Warbler may be about to follow suit

Red-necked Phalarope a bird one never tires of

Great Grey Owls bred in record numbers in Norway this year

lekking Ruff - now an extremely rare sight in the south of Norway

less than 20 pairs or singing male Rustic Buntings survive in Norway and I finally got to grips with the species in the nick of time

this was my best view of Ural Owl

a hybrid Redstart x Black Redstart was a first for me

Blyth's Reed Warbler is another bird attempting to colonise - this individual being one of a nest building pair

After succesfully breeding a few years ago there is now only an adult male Serin returning to a graveyard on the edge of Oslo

a visit to Finnmark in June gave me Arctic Warbler

and Little Bunting

Red-throated Pipit

Long-tailed skua

ridiculously tame phalaropes

the mountains of the south gave Dotterel

and Great Snipe. I visited my Great Snipe lek 3 times and had an amazing experience each time

Red-backed Shrike are a regular if scarce breeder around Oslo and one of my favourite summer time birds

I went on a rare (for me) Norwegian twitch for the country's first Trumpeter Finch and this picture was published in Birdwatch magazine

although I preferred this picture

Honey Buzzards are also scarce yet regular breeders

A Bluethroat on autumn passage showing his most colourful parts

a major highlight of 2013 was participating in a Nordic Rare Birds Committees meeting in Falsterbo and meeting Lars Svensson amongst others.

we also saw both Kite species on this trip

Lars giving a preview of his work on Subalpine Warbler which was published in the November edition of British Birds

the Scottish ringed Bean Geese were seen close to Oslo in the autumn for the first time thanks to the data from the satellite tags


one of this autumn's record number of Yellow-browed Warblers

and an even better picture of a Tengmalm's Owl

White-tailed Eagle

a self found Red-flanked Bluetail

and finally good views of an Olive-backed Pipit

the autumn was also good for Hawk Owls at least in the north of the country

a family holiday to Mallorca gave a few exotic species. Red knobbed Coot

Purple Swamphen

Little Egret

once back in Oslo this Med Gull was a nice bird

I experienced an unusal raptor passage one day - this picture showing 2 Common and 1 Rough-legged Buzzard

to find a Woodcock in daytime is rare enough but to document the very rare short-billed variant nearly unheard of

Siberian Chiffchaff at Fornebu - why couldn't it have brought a wing barred cousin?

Pygmy Owls can be found with a bit of luck in the forest around Oslo

a few days were spent filming Oslo's wintering Peregrine for an upcoming documentary

Bearded Tits helped brighten up a few autumn days

as did Long-tailed Tits

after a number of attempts I finally got to digitally capture Hazel Grouse

the year ended with Two-barred Crossbills that were certainly not difficult to capture digitally

although accompanying Hawfinches were always far more wary