Monday, 31 December 2018

Last birding of 2018

After posting about the highlights of 2018 I did find time for a final quick birding session. Attempts to get better pictures of the Water Rail were very frustrating as there was always something between me and the bird but it was also very special as the bird came unusually close to me. The Glaucous Gull was a relatively enjoyable experience as the area was deserted.

2nd winter Glaucous Gull (polarmåke) with Herring Gulls

here giving some abuse
and here receiving some

I know where it is..

Water Rail (vannrikse)

when it once was completely in the open It was always facing away from me..

winter in Maridalen

although having only been frozen for 5 days there was apparently 12cm of ice on the lake

the beast likes Maridalen too 

Sunday, 30 December 2018

2018 The Year That Was part II

July means summer holidays. This year we didn’t visit Beitostølen and had two weeks by the coast at Hulvik before heading to Bodø. Our time at Hulvik revealed a number of breeding Red-backed Shrikes and lots of butterflies which are becoming more of an interest in the summer months (but I doubt I will ever get an interest for moths).  Whilst at our cabin near Bodø I try to visit the fjord close to Fauske as much as possible. This year I was rewarded with Norway’s eight ever Pied-billed Grebe plus finding for the 4th successive year the returning Asian White-winged (Stejneger’s) Scoter. A fishing trip in foggy conditions also resulted in an unprecedented 150 adult Long-tailed Skuas which indicates a failed breeding season.

a well marked (old) female Red-backed Shrike (tornskate)

a Swallowtail caterpillar

a High Brown Fritillary (adippeperlemorvinge)

Norway's 6th Pied-billed Grebe (ringnebbdykker)

and the Asian White-winged Scoter (knoppsjøorre) back for its 4th summer and getting more and more distant every year

My birthday on 10 August resulted in some very good birds but none seen well with Broad-billed Sandpiper, Red Kite and Med Gull. As the month progressed Black Redstarts, Bluethroats, Honey Buzzards and Hobbies became apparent around Oslo and the last day of the month was a red-letter day with King Eider and Red-necked Grebe on a boat trip around Bygdøy and the islands.

Hobby (lerkefalk) in Maridalen

a recently fledged Black Redstart (svartrødstjert) in Oslo

migrating Bluethroat (blåstrupe) in Maridalen 
Swallowtail butterfly

Honey Buzzard (vepsevåk) in Maridalen

young male King Eider (praktærfugl) in Oslo

The Red-necked Grebe stayed through September and allowed some very close views. At Årnestangen there were regular Hen and Marsh Harriers and a Great White Egret to keep me entertained. Just before I headed off to Værøy a great days birding gave Great Skua, Fulmar and Gannet from Bygdøy (all v.rare in Oslo) and a Yellow-browed Warbler at Fornebu. Værøy of course produced lots of Yellow-broweds but the weather was against us and a fine Red-flanked Bluetail was the only really decent bird we had although Blyth’s Reed, Iceland Gull and Grey-headed Woodpecker were also nice.

Great White Egret (egrethegre) Årnestangen

juvenile male Hen Harrier (myrhauk) Årnestangen

a very pale (old) male Marsh Harrier (sivhauk) at Årnestangen

a far from shy young Dunlin (myrsnipe)

Yellow-browed Warber (gulbrynsanger)

juvenile Red-necked Grebe (gråstrupedykker) 

unusually good views of a Fulmar (havhest) from land

juvenile Iceland Gull (grønlandsmåke)

The highlight of Værøy 2018 was this Red-flanked Bluetail (blåstrupe)

In October we had a few days with good winds from the south which resulted in some half decent seabird sessions but never anything too scarce. 9 Guillemots ended up on Maridalsvannet with 2 surviving into December. Just after I returned from Værøy in September I saw a 2nd winter Med Gull in Maridalen but never got any photos of it. Luckily it hung around Oslo and in mid October I was able to catch up with it eating worms with Common Gulls on a playing field. Some twitching saw me bag a new lifer in the form of an ultra skulky Brown Shrike which others were ticking based on a shadow in flight but which I was lucky enough to get photos of. Best bird of the month though was a Siberian Tit at Fornebu which must go down as the most unexpected bird of 2018.

this Gannet (havsule) was blown in to Oslo by the strong winds

and these Guillemots (lomvi) ended up on Maridalsvannet

2nd winter Mediterranean Gull (svartehavsmåke) in Oslo

October is always a good time for seeing Long-tailed Tits (stjertmeis)

Brown Shrike (brunvarsler)

the (presumed) long staying Red-necked Grebe in nearly full winter plumage

and bird of the year - Fornebu's Siberian Tit (lappmeis)

In November I got a glimpse of a Great Grey Owl but more than good views of a Golden Eagle at the same site were a very good compensation. The highlight of the month, and probably the year, was a spur of the moment trip to stay with Kjell in Jæren. We started off by twitching a Buff-bellied Pipit (there has been some discussion as the sub species ID but I feel confident it is an American bird), then finding two Firecrests and then finding Norway’s 6th ever Great Spotted Eagle! Next day we found a Water Pipit and twitched a Desert Wheatear as well as seeing Two-barred Crossbill and Short-eared Owl, so the trip was a resounding success!
Back home I eventually found some Bearded Tits after they had failed to turn up at Fornebu and a Marsh Tit in Maridalen was surprisingly my first ever there. A Pygmy Owl also showed very well in Maridalen.

a Little Grebe (dvergdykker) at Østensjøvannet

Golden Eagle (kongeørn) making a Goshawk (hønsehauk) look tiny

Smew (lappfiskand) at Østensjøvannet

Norway's 6th ever Greater Spotted Eagle (storskrikørn)


(American) Buff-bellied Pipit (myrpiperke)

male Desert Wheatear (økernsteinskvett)

Peregrine (vandrefalk) chasing a Snipe (enkeltbekkasin)

Short-eared Owl (jordugle)

Bearded Tit (skjeggmeis)

Marsh Tit (løvmeis) finally in Maridalen

December rarely brings much new but there were still Chiffchaffs at Fornebu, Pygmy Owls were easy to find and Smew and Water Rail showed well at Østensjøvannet. A Glaucous Gull gave me the run around but I finally got to see it at the 9th attempt.

photogenic Pygmy Owl (spurveugle)

Water Rail (vannrikse)