Tuesday, 30 December 2014

2014 the year that was Part II

The second half of 2014 covers the summer holidays in the mountains and the north plus a relatively poor autumn which was only saved by storms in late October and then a quiet early winter with no invasive species to brighten the short dark days.


July is time for family holidays but there are always birds to see (isn't that one of the things that makes birding such a marvellous hobby?)

a pair of Redstarts (rødstjert) bred outside the cabin we were using in Beitostølen. The male is a truly beautiful bird

the second half of July was spent at our cabin near Bodø in the north of Norway and this Broad-billed Sandpiper (fjellmyrløper) was a rare record for the area. Here together with a Ringed Plover (sandlo)

The beginning of August still offers p some of the more exciting breeding species which are still feeding young
Icterine Warbler (gulsanger)

Marsh Warbler (myrsanger)

Red-backed Shrike (tornskate)
 And young and often confiding waders come through on migration

Spotted Redshank (sotsnipe)

Dunlin (myrsnipe)
Ruff (brushane)
and occasionally something really rare such as Norway's first Pallas's Gull (steppemåke)

 This is the month when migration is in full swing and one's thoughts turn to wind blown islands and rarities which in my case means the island of Værøy

Citrine Wagtail (sitronerle) one of the highlights in what was a quiet autumn on Værøy

the island's first Pectoral Sandpiper (alaskasnipe)

Barred Warblers (hauksanger) have proved to be regular here in September

the year's second close encounter with a Jack Snipe (kvartbekkasin)

Glaucous Gull (polarmåke) on Værøy

Sanderlings (sandløper) could be studied closely


October around Oslo often involves sea watching in southerly winds which can result in good birds but rarely good photos

the fact that I managed a picture of this Manx Shearwater (havlire) automatically makes it a good picture as there seem to be very few that have been photographed from land in Norway and this was only the second reported from Norway
this Short-eared Owl (jordugle) flew out of a neighbours garden and caused me lots of problems as I just assumed it would be a Long-eared despite the plumage telling something else

never a common sight in Norway: a Kingfisher (isfugl)

this Velvet Scoter (sjøorre) with some major pigment problems was an unusual sight

Whooper Swans (sangsvane) pass through the Oslo area in large numbers in November but despite searching I found no Bewick's (dvergsvane) amongst them

a rare, if plastic, Norwegian bird and refugee from warmer climes: an Egyptian Goose (niland)

I used a lot of time on a couple of late Chiffchaffs (gransanger) at the end of November and beginning of December. This one is a tristis
colourful wildfowl at Østensjøvannet

The tristis lasted into the first week of December but after some snow and constant freezing temperatures it was no longer reported and presumably succumbed to the elements

the Botanical Gardens in Oslo always offer many birds in December attracted to the many berry trees. Here a Waxwing (sidensvans)

and a Hawfinch (kjernebiter)

and something rarer: Two-barred Crossbills (båndkorsnebb)



Monday, 29 December 2014

Juletide birding

I managed just under an hour of real in the flesh birding today whilst visiting family in Tønsberg. The bird rich bay at Presterødkilen was frozen over but at the edge of the ice by Rosanes there was quite a concentration of birds visible in the half light of a late December overcast morning. Most exciting was a male Smew (lappfiskand) probably the first male of this species I have seen for over a year. Some interesting behaviour came from a mixed flock of Scaup (bergand) and Wigeon (brunnakke). The Scaup were actively feeding by diving and coming up with grass like vegetation which the Wigeon would then either eat what was discarded by the Scaup or sometimes try to steal from the Scaup. Without this source of food I cannot see how the Wigeon would be able to survive here when there is so much ice.

The male Smew - even white birds look grey on days like this
This Grey Heron would presumably have had trouble catching a fish from this position
The mixed Scaup and Wigeon flock

I had a small redpoll flock also containing a single Siskin (grønnsisk) which is a scarce sight this winter. One bird was a Lesser Redpoll (brunsisik) but the rest including this bird looked more like Common (Mealy) Redpolls (gråsisik) although this bird does have a quite buffy coloured wing bar which might be more consistent with it being a Lesser - not always an easy subject matter.

Friday, 26 December 2014

2014 Owls

Owls were a family I really got to grips with in 2014. The only species I didn't see was Snowy Owl but then again it was not a good year for this species and I don't know anyone else who saw one. Surprisingly though I only saw a single Pygmy Owl (spurveugle) which normally is easy to see in Maridalen and I also only had a single Short-eared Owl (jordugle) but this ended up being a most unexpcted garden tick.

Tengmalm's Owl (perleugle)

this bird came close enough to be photographed with the built in flash although I had to remove red-eye afterwards

Tawny Owl (kattugle)

with a breeding pair in Maridalen and the celebrity pair in Frognerparken I didn't have problems seeing Tawny Owl in 2014.

a youngster from the nest in Maridalen

Long-eared Owl (hornugle)

Normally I only hear the youngsters begging for food but this year I saw young of this species for the first time.

the adults were more difficult to see though

Great Grey Owl (lappugle)
this youngster had been removed from the nest for ringing
youngster from another nest. These were also ringed and one unfortunately broke a leg after a twig got caught in the loose fitting ring - one does need to ask why they need to be ringed in the first place...
a self found Great Grey Owl
a very confiding species
 Ural Owl (slagugle)
another ugly owlet. Young owls have to leave the cramped nest before they have fledged due to space issues and for a week or two can be easy to find perched up in the trees around the nest hole

and always with an adult in close and wathful attendance

Hawkie (haukugle)
2014 was a good breeding year for this species and I had many exhilarating encounters with my addiction

a nearly fledged youngster
Short-eared Owl (jordugle)
2014 was a good year for this species but somehow I managed to avoid it until this bird flew out of my neighbours garden one October morning
Eagle Owl
views and photos were so good but for what it's worth...
it did dit exposed for a long time though as it "sang"