Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Return of the OSLO birder

I’m back in business as the Oslo rather than Holidaying Birder. Yesterday evening I was carrying out an organised count of the waders at Årnestangen which involved getting soaking wet, bitten by mosquitoes (although far from as bad as it can be) and seeing an exceptional variety of waders – 23 species! Today I was guiding Kean from the Michigan and showing off the best Oslo has to offer in a morning at the end of July.

The 23 species of wader I had yesterday is a personal record out there and not one that has been bettered on many occasions I would think. The vast majority of birds were adults in breeding plumage and there were a number of high arctic waders with their distinctive red hued plumages. The light in the evening especially on a cloudy day is OK for searching with the scope but as always out here birds are distant and photos are appalling. I really don’t want to find a rare peep out here as I don’t think it would be possible to nail the ID and definitely not possible to get useful photos. Anything rare should be nice and large! As I was conducting a wader count I had permission to walk out in the area but even though this allowed me to come closer to the birds the distances were still too long. None of this really detracted from a great three hours. Highlight was an adult Red-necked Phalarope, a bird I have been seeing a lot recently but which is a true rarity around Oslo and seen far less than annually. This bird was feeding on the mud alongside other waders and Teals and acting very differently to the birds I have enjoyed on their breeding grounds. Here is the total list in approx. terms of decreasing scarcity:

1.       Red-necked Phalarope 1

2.       Turnstone 1

3.       Sanderling 9

4.       Grey Plover 3

5.       Curlew Sandpiper 2

6.       Bar-tailed Godwit 4

7.       Spotted Redshank 2

8.       Knot 24

9.       Temminck’s Stint 14

10.   Little Stint 2 (both adults but at the two extremes of colouration with one very orange but the other only have a weak orange wash)

11.   Greenshank 5

12.   Little Ringed Plover 2

13.   Whimbrel 1

14.   Curlew 9

15.   Ruff 5

16.   Green Sandpiper 2

17.   Wood Sandpiper 14

18.   Common Sandpiper 3

19.   Redshank 2

20.   Oystercatcher 3

21.   Dunlin 56

22.   Ringed Plover 27

23.   Common Snipe 9

Årnestangen is recognised as a very good place for waders but it is only when there is heaving rain storms early in the autumn that this variety of species turns up. There was little other than the waders to see with much smaller numbers of ducks and no evidence of passerine migration have kicked off. Raptors out at the watchpoint were limited to 4 Ospreys although as I drove down the hill to the car park I had a mini Falsterbo experience and in the course of 1 minute had a family party of 4 Kestrels, a Buzzard and best of all a ringtail harrier which unfortunately I could turn into nothing rarer than a very worn adult female Hen Harrier but this was only my second record this year of the species and is an early autumn record in these parts and probably a sign of a failed breeder due to the low rodent numbers in Southern Norway.


Today I guided Kean to Fornebu and Maridalen. With the late spring and summer there were no passerine migrants to be found but a few migrant waders had arrived at Fornebu and a lot of the breeding birds had young and were making a show of themselves. We had 59 species in total and a successful mornings birding was had. A family party of Marsh Warblers were the scarcest birds. These caused me a bit of a headache as one of the birds was making a Blackcap like teck call which would better suit Blyth’s Reed Warbler but on plumage all the birds seemed to be good for Marsh and checking a bit it does seem that Marsh Warbler do sometimes give this call.
These pictures won't be winning any pictures but give a feeling for how it is at Årnestangen
Grey Plovers (tundralo)- 2 in full adult plumage but another in what may be a 2cy plumage. The black birds in the background are Cormorants

Red-necked Phalarope (svømmesnipe) apparantly....

The Phalarope in flight with a Knot (polarsnipe)

a smart adult Turnstone (steinvender) and Ringed Plover (sandlo)

part of the wader flock. In the inset are Dunlin (myrsnipe), Knot and Ruff (brushane)

and here are also a Little Stint and 2 Curlew Sandpipers (tundrasnipe) in addition to Dunlin, Knot and Ruff
Whimbrel (småspove), juvenile Curlew (storspove), 4 Bar-tailed Godwits (lappspove) and another juv Curlew. Curlews in this very young juvenile plumage are often mistaken for Whimbrels but when seen side by side the size difference is very obvious
here the Whimbrel like pattern of the left hand Curlew can be seen as well as the short bills on the juveniles

Sanderlings (sandløper)
Female Hen Harrier and a very worn adult if I'm not mistaken
juvenile Kestrel (tårnfalk)

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Godbye to the Cabin and the long drive home

The drive home from Bodø to Oslo is long but there are plenty of birding opportunities along the way

the fox seemed to sense that we were leaving and came to say goodbye to us as we packed up to leave the cabin

a railway runs across Saltfjellet and this Bluethroat used the rails as a vantage point to watch my progress and scold me if I came too close

this Redpoll was attracted by the scolding Bluethroat and also followed me from the train tracks


Long-tailed Skuas are one of those mountain species that do not seem to view humans a threat and allow very close approach



this male Red-necked Phalarope clearly had young nearby but I never saw them

Redshanks breed up on Saltfjellet but I had to look twice at this individual and when it flew....

it revealed it was a Spotted Redshank and a very early juvenile

the type that breeds up there: Common Redshank

A stop at Dovre on te way back gave me my first ever Muskox but they were no more than dark blobs that moved very slowly along the mountainsde

female Redstart

my attempt for Siberian Tit in Southern Norway produced, yet again, just Willow Tits

and another video

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Cabin continued...

A new batch of varied pictures from Bodø and area (I am uploading chronologically).

juvenile Common Sandpiper still with downy feathers but fully recongnisable

adult Curlew with worm. A pair bred close to the cabin and we also saw a single half grown youngster

adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and female Red-breasted Merganser. It is not easy to make sense of the LBBGs up here. All seem to be slender long winged birds that are very marine yet the mantle colour can vary from jet black to a greyer colour with brown tinges.

this might count as a record shot of a Garganey (right hand most bird in inset) - even if the head pattern is a bit blurred the blue forewing (the bird had just landed) is visible making this an eclipse male. It is together with 2 Teal

Grey Heron feeding right outside our cabin

Arctic Terns. The two adult birds seemed to be without young and were displaying but other birds had well grown young in the nest which can be seen on the right hand side of the picture

this Black Guillemot was far too concerned with a worm like fish to worry about the photographer

juvenile Bluethroat

tail is still a stub

pair of Great Black-backed Gulls with the size difference between the sexes being obvious (male left)

Herring Gull - these northern birds can have relatively little black in the wing

female Merlin

note how the birds colours differ in the next two pictures as I struggled to get the exposure correct with the white background

possibly an even worse record shot than the Garganey but this is Bodø communes second EVER Mute Swan and the cause of a mini twitch so needs to be included!

I had an amazing encounter with a mother and two young Otters than swan right towards me as I was looking for the Knobbly Duck and they didn't notice men until they had come to within 10 metres of where I stood

mum had caught some sort of flat fish

the flat fish shows better here
whilst I was watching the Otters this adult White-tailed Eagle flew in with a clear interest in them before my presence seemed to scare him off

another shot of Stein - the third and final time I saw him with every subsequent observation being in better light and wind conditions but greater range

juvenile Redstart

my only Owl of the trip - a very distant Short-eared Owl