Thursday, 30 January 2014

Bearded Tits

male Bearded Tit

I thought it was best to title this post in an honest way such that nobody starts reading this thinking they’ll find something new only to be disappointed by just finding even more pictures of Bearded Tits!
It’s still snowing and we now have over a metre in the garden. It is not that tempting to be out just now but a bit of fresh air is always a good idea. I chose a quick trip to Fornebu and recorded fifteen birds of four species: seven Waxwing (sidensvans), one Fieldfare (gråtrost), one Magpie (skjære) and unsurprisingly the six Bearded Tits (skjeggmeis).

When I arrived at the reedbed at Koksa I positioned myself where I have been seeing the birds and waited and scanned but could not hear or see anything other than falling snow. I walked the length of the reedbed still having NOTHING but snow and then returned to the spot. A couple of minutes later: “ping, ping” and then after another minute the birds popped up in exactly the same place and then fed high in the reeds just 5 metres away. The bird that was closest was as usual the ringed female which seems to be just that little bit less shy than the others. The birds dropped down to the base of the reeds a few times and each time popped up again a fraction closer. Eventually they were right by the fence only three metres away. I hoped that they would come to the reeds on my side but that was obviously a too greedy wish.

These birds look like they are becoming my new Hawkie but whilst they are scarce and very smart birds they do not compare in the wow factor that Hawkie had last winter.
A new day offers new photo opportunities but basically I think now that the only thing that can improve the pictures is better light and maybe an interesting behavioural feature. I did take some video though which despite being hand held isn’t too bad. I filmed in HD so remember to chose HD in the bottom right corner.

three birds

points for aeshetic appeal?

ringed female but despite the close range I am not able to get any details from the ring

four birds

the closest they came. Lens at 150mm uncropped
behind bars. Same bird with lens at 500mm uncropped

Wednesday, 29 January 2014


This morning was spent with James Ewen trying to find a suitable spot to film Dippers (fossekall) underwater. We found three Dippers but have not necessarily yet found a suitable place to film. As always, it was a joy to watch these birds and today there was far more swimming than I have noted before with one bird in particular acting like a duck!

can you spot the Dipper?
In the garden the Blackbirds (svarttrost) seem to have called a truce with the 2cy male sharing the apples with the adult male and female although only for short periods of time. The female was particularly confiding and kept on feeding an apple when I went out to fill up the feeders. I returned with the camera and had to step back to get her within the close focus range. I have not tried to age females before as one has to look for more subtle differences than the males show. I have seen however that others report the age of females so thought I would see if I could age this bird. To me the flight feathers and particularly greater coverts look to be uniform in colour with no obvious retained juvenile feathers which should make this an adult.
female Blackbird

The greater covert feathers (outlined) all seem to be of a similar colour which means that they have all been moulted and the bird is therefore an adult. However the outermost greater covert does look to be far more pointed than the other feathers and has pale edges which may mean this feather is of a different generation and would therefore suggest the bird is a youngster. Not easy is it?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014


With snow still falling and temperatures rising towards zero making the roads slippery I just kept it local this morning. Fornebu was a pretty dead place with less than ten species on offer but when they include six Bearded Tits (skjeggmeis), three Long-tailed Tits (stjertmeis), 19 Twite (bergirisk) and a male Goshawk (hønsehauk) that isn’t a bad haul. The Beardies were in EXACTLY the same small area of reeds that I have seen them the previous two times. This small area doesn’t look that different to the surrounding reeds but the seed heads here must be particularly tasty. They exhibited the same behaviour as before and were difficult to find initially but one quiet call eventually gave them away and there they were just 5 metres away.
The Twite flock was feeding on seed heads amongst the snow but failed to contain ant redpolls this time.
In the garden the Tree Sparrow (pilfink) flock has increased to 11 and there were four Blackbirds (svarttrost) visiting the garden: two adult males and one 2cy male and a female. Surprisingly, the second calendar year bird was the king of the roost though and saw off the others if they approached the apples I have put out – he is obviously a testosterone full teenage bully. The nearby apple tree now has little fruit remaining on it and I only saw a single Fieldfare (gråtrost) when I checked it out.

Bearded Tits have a very cool way of climbing up reeds by holding onto two different stems. Note this male is ringed on its left leg

male and female Bearded Tit

Three males Bearded Tits (skjeggmeis) with houses of Langodden on the other side of Koksa in the background
Long-tailed Tit - always a pleasure to see and hear

part of the flock of Twite (bergirisk)

Wrens (gjerdesmett) are so far fairly widespread this winter although could suffer if it remains cold for long. Note this bush is already bursting into bud

Monday, 27 January 2014

What's all that white stuff?

Last night and this morning it just snowed and snowed and snowed; dry, fluffy snow that blows around a lot and drifts.
Today was therefore a good day to stay in and catch up on admin and article writing. Of course I always had an eye on the garden and also took a trip to the apples tree. The apple tree held seven Waxwings (sidensvans), two Fieldfares (gråtrost), a Blackbird (svarttrost) and the male Blackcap (munk). The Blackcap is quite wary and flies off when someone approaches to within 10 metres of the tree which must be quite tiring for the bird as a path runs right by it but the other birds just sit tight and don’t seem bothered by people walking right underneath them.

In the garden the Robin (rødstrupe) and three Blackbirds are still holding out and four Yellowhammers (gulspurv) and two Bullfinches (dompap) dropped in. Rarest bird of the day though was a Greenfinch (grønnfink). This species used to be regular in the garden all year round but has seen a crash in its numbers recently. It is thought that it is disease that is the cause and Greenfinches are very susceptible to salmonella which they pick up at feeding stations.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Apple tree

An usual weekend post from me but with 10 minutes to spare between a late, lie-in induced, breakfast and taking the family to the ski slopes I checked out the apple tree. Just four Waxwings (sidensvans) this morning but the Blackcap (munk) was present and allowed me to see it feeding on apples – a fine male which dispelled any thoughts I may have had that the tacking call from yesterday actually belonged to a far rarer warbler. At 0930 on an overcast morning it is still very dark and the pictures bare evidence of this.

Whilst skiing a vole risked its life as it ran across one of the slopes – hopefully a good sign regarding owls this year.

male Blackcap (munk) - a very scarce winter visitor in Oslo

Waxwing (sidensvans) - a common winter visitor in Oslo although always a delight to see