Saturday, 31 October 2015

Long-tailed Tits

I had a very close encounter with these Long-tailed Tits (stjertmeis) on Tuesday in great light and I'm rather happy with the photos I took.

the darker feathers in the crown are I believe remnants of juvenile plumage

this one has a little insect on its head

note the yellow waxy looking eye lid

looking like a Long-tailed Bearded Tit

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Oh so quiet

The less said about today the better. It is cloudy at the moment and temperatures are a few degrees over zero and there is little wind but this has put a real dampener on bird activity. I attempted to refind the Med Gull again today but couldn’t find a single gull around Nordre Øyeren. I also searched four reedbeds at Fornebu with no sign of Beardies and very few birds generally. Maridalen was also very quiet although the Shrike was still present although in a new area.

The day was so frustratingly quiet that I turned my eye to stringing a Herring Gull into something more exciting although I’m not really sure what I was trying to string it into…possibly a Caspo but really it was just an odd Herring and there are plenty of those out there.
quite a few Waxwings (sidesvans) today but they were quite shy
that Shrike again although as two were seen together earlier in the morning this may be another individual

the stringy gull

an easier gull - a late 1cy Lesser Black-backed Gull


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

No repeat

I went looking for the Med Gull again today but in two visits to Merkja at 0900 and 1100 there wasn’t a single gull of any species to be seen! A walk out to Monsrudvika which had held so many ducks last week resulted in far fewer although 4 Shovelers were holding on. Highlight here was a distant White-tailed Eagle. The bird seemed to have an all-white tail so was probably an adult.

Whilst out here I received a message from Kjetil J that there were Bearded Tits at Fornebu. I think I had already given up on the turning up this year but this was good news. By the time I got to Fornebu later in the day there was not sight nor sound of them but there is a good chance that they are still in the area and will soon settle down in Koksa which has always been the preferred area for them.

In Maridalen the Great Grey Shrike revealed itself for the third day on the trot and seems to have found a good source of food. The Whooper Swan family is still present and feeding on the field by their nesting site.

Waxwings and Bullfinches were common through the day although failed to be photogenic. Most of the Bullfinches were giving trumpet calls (aswell as normal calls) but I fail to see any plumage or size differences.
Eastern? Bullfinches (dompap)

The Great Grey Shrike (varsler) in Maridalen

the top left picture shows the pale base to the bill and streaking on the chest aging this as a 1cy. In the top right picture one can see that it has a thin white band on the base of the secondaries which also can be just seen on the closed wing (bottom left). Bottom right can we see that there is extensive white in the tail. Just goes to show there is a lot of variation in this species (compare to my recent pictures of a bird with a much broader secondary bar and another bird completely lacking a secondary bar)

male Hawfinch (kjernebiter) at Fornebu

The eagle has flown

Wren at Fornebu

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Med Gull

After finishing yesterday’s post by saying there wasn’t much to look forward to (birding wise) at the moment I go and find my third national rarity of the year today. A species I have found before but none-the-less a nice bird: a Mediterranean Gull. It was in 1st winter plumage as have been the three other birds I’ve seen in Norway and I so wish that the next one is a smart adult. The bird was at Merkja, Nordre Øyeren and kept its distance although just when I thought I was going to be able to get closer to it and get some half decent pictures an adult male Goshawk rushed through and scared everything up into the air and they then sought sanctuary out on Svellet where close views are never on the cards. Hopefully though it will hang around and offer better views over the coming days.

I had started the day hoping once again to get some cracking photos of Jack Snipe but didn’t even find a single bird today at Snekkervika. The Great Grey Shrike was again present as were a flock of 8 Long-tailed Tits which showed ridiculously well in fantastic light and will be the subject of their own post a bit later when I’ve gone through all my pictures. After giving it an hour and a half here and having nothing interesting flying over I was in half a mind to drive back to Oslo but thought I would give Merkja a go. Here there were a number of ducks including 3 Shoveler and 3 Gadwall and I checked out the 20 Whooper Swans hoping for a Bewick’s. After 20 minutes of checking the waterfowl I realised there was nothing more exciting to find amongst them so in a rare inspired moment decided to check through the gulls that were loafing around. I spent some time with a striking 1st winter Common Gull that I unsuccessfully tried to turn into a Ring-billed Gull. After this I went through the other gulls very quickly until I came to a bird sitting on its own and immediately felt today was going to be a good day! A classic 1st winter Med Gull.
Pictures of the Med Gull (svartehavsmåke) only just classify as record shots

here with Common Gulls (fiskempåke)

flight shots were perhaps a bit better

an attempt at phone digiscoping wasn't particularly succesful

although the bird did fly off before I had honed my technique
Two female Gadwall (snadderand)
There are three Shoveler (skjeand) in this picture (two are in inset) plus a couple of Mallard (stokkand) and a single Teal (krikkand). The remainin birds are Mallards although in the bright light a number seem to have white axillaries meaning I've actually found a flock of American has been shown before the white axillary character has to be used with great caution!

the Great Grey Shrike (varsler) was showing well again in Maridalen and was one of three individuals I had today

Monday, 26 October 2015

Great Grey Shrike in Maridalen

This weekend I was away with Jr for a football tournament in Langesund in Telemark so birding was not on the cards although I did note a number of Waxwings and did threaten a car load of girls that we would twitch a Bee-eater on the way home (this bid was found near Stokke in Vestfold on Saturday and has proved very popular and photogenic and has seemingly filled a hole on many peoples lists).

Today I checked out the Oslo vibe. It is quite warm at the moment and in the morning there was no wind so it was once again a fantastic autumn day. There were a number of Bullfinches in Maridalen which were mostly heading west and there was frequent trumpet calls from them so it looks like the invasion of eastern birds is increasing. There are still numbers of Crossbills to be heard and I also had a pair on the church ruins at Kirkeby which I think intended to find minerals from the stones but my presence probably deterred them. Great Spotted Woodpeckers were also very noticeable with birds drumming and squabbling presumably as they mark out territories and I ahd four together on a telegraph pole. Highlight in Maridalen though was a Great Grey Shrike which has probably been present for a couple of weeks but had so far eluded me (I suspect that it covers a large area possibly not just confined to Maridalen). It showed well and its barred underparts showed it to be a 1cy bird.

With the windless conditions I also checked out the Oslofjord from Huk and had a few auks (4 Razorbills and 12 Guillemots) but very few seaducks and no divers or grebes.

This time of the year can turn up interesting birds especially after storms but the weather forecast is for very settled weather the next week so I don’t have much confidence that there will be too much to look forward to for a while.
Common Crossbill (grankorsnebb) pair in Maridalen

they flew down onto the church ruins and seemed to have a desire to go further down maybe because there was a source of minerals?

Great Grey Shrike (varsler) in Maridalen

it had a lot of wires to choose from!

4 Great Spotted Woodpeckers (flaggspett) and a telegraph pole
Guillemot (lomvi)

the same Guillemot with the old lighthouse and now restaurant of Dyna Fyr in the background
1cy Razorbill (alke) with young Great Black-backed Gull (svartbak) and young Herring Gull (gråmåke)

the Razorbill was hunting a shoal of small fish which jumped out of the water when it dived. This in turn attracted a number of gulls including this adult Herring Gull


Friday, 23 October 2015


After yesterday’s wind it was back to sun and blue skies today with just a slight breeze. I thought that today would offer a good chance for some cracking Jack Snipe photos. Now the taking of cracking Jack Snipe photos is no easy task although I have manage it three times before so feel that I have at least an idea about how to go about it. First one needs to know where there are Jack Snipe which I did after flushing a couple last week and then one needs to locate them and take loads of cracking photos before flushing them. Easy heh?

The necessary technique is to walk slowly and methodically through suitable habitat which means ankle deep marshy ground looking for the white droppings of snipe and then scanning to see if you can see the bird. Most of this scanning is within a 2 metre radius of your feet as Jack Snipe most often flush only just before you step on them. I walked the marsh once without a sign of Jack although did have 6 Common Snipe. I then went through again and had 4 Jack showing how walking just a metre different can result in flushing the bird. The first bird I flushed without having seen any droppings but the next three I had spotted droppings and stopped and scanned without seeing the bird before taking one more step and the bird then flying up from with 2 metres of me. So my cracking photos had to be substituted by rubbishy flight photos.

Walking around staring at your feet can result in you missing other birds which nearly happened with a Short-eared Owl which flew up silently less than 10 metres from me and had me lamenting missing what could well have been cracking views of this bird on the ground. It was more difficult to miss a Great Grey Shrike that was hunting in the area plus a flock of 12 Long-tailed Tits which were very restless and noisy.
Long-tailed Tit (stjertmeis)

the second Jack Snipe (kvartbekkasin) I found today
and the third

and the fourth. Note that the bill is only just longer than the head
A Common Snipe (enkeltbekkasin) with a bill about twice the length of the head

Great Grey Shrike (varsler)

same bird. Note the lack of white in the secondaries and compare to the bird from Værøy in September which had white bar along the base of the secondaries.

GGS with Årnestangen in the background
uncropped blurred picture of the Short-eared Owl (jordugle) showing how close it was when I flushed it

here the white trailing edge to the wing allows it be separated from Long-eared Owl

I just had the owl flying away from me but it did look over its shoulder at me