Thursday, 27 June 2019

Late June guiding

I have been guiding the last two days. Firstly, Donna and Doug from Californian and today Steve and Ann from Blighty.

Wehave visited Fornebu, Østensjøvannet and Maridalen and we have seen a lot of birds with many species feeding young either in the nest or newly fledged. At Fornebu I discovered a pair of Thrush Nightingales bringing food to a nest. They were very close to a path and it was their alarm calling that alerted me to them. I did not recognise the call and the closest I could come was young owls but after a bit of searching found one and then both Thrush Nightingales with food in their beaks. The views were great but it was a bit gloomy so pictures do not do justice. We also had Ringed Plovers, Wheatears, Whitethroats, Skylarks and Willow Warblers all with fledged young and Marsh Warblers singing. 4 Lapwings were early autumn migrants although hopefully not failed breeders.

At Østensjøvannet we had a great show from Great Crested Grebes with two adults swimming under the bridge we were standing on and being visible under water.

In Maridalen Goshawk, flycatchers, Black-throated Diver, Iccy, Rosefinch and Red-backed Shrike all showed well.

In total over the two days we had around 80 species.

Thrush Nightingale (nattergal) with food for young

in many species the yellow at the base of the bill would be a sign of a juvenile bird but not in this species

telling Thrush and Common Nightingales apart is not easy on either song or plumage but a good photo shows that P1 is very short thus confirming Thrush...

Thrush Nightingale video - most interesting for the calls

great feet on a Great Crested Grebe (toppdykker)

swims like a frog

Great Crested Grebe swimming under water (video from a series of stills)

juvenile Magpie (skjære)

juvenile Ringed Plover (sandlo)

adult Skylark (sanglerke)

another Skylark

adult female Wheatear (steinskvett) who had fledged young nearby

juvenile Whitethroat (tornsanger)

more juv Whitethroats

and even more

and the whole brood of seven in this picture although there may have been one more

juvenile Willow Warbler (løvsanger)
one of the male Red-backed Shrikes in Maridalen. We also saw the other catching a dragonfly in flight
this male Yellowhammer (gulsurv) had also caught a dragonfly although I am not sure of what type

Roe Deer mum and two youngsters

male Common Rosefinch. The area where I believe they had their nest has been "cleaned up" since yesterday afternoon and all vegetation and saplings cut down. Who and why I do not know

Black-throated Divers nest from last week

And the sound of a singing Quail in Maridalen that I popped out to hopefully see but as usual failed to on Tuesday evening after Per Christian had found it on Monday night (although it could well be the same bird first heard elsewhere in the Dale by Halvard H a couple of weeks ago)

Monday, 24 June 2019

A good hobby

Summer is having a hard time establishing itself this year but this weekend was quite warm and sunny. Dragonflies were out in Maridalen and so was the Hobby which with luck is a (fairly) local breeding bird. Taking the photos of it that I would like to take is still a work in progress though

Hobby (vandrefalk)

here it has spotted a Fragonfly and is chasing after it 
the head and body is where the food is

and the wings are discarded

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary (brunflekket perlemorvinge)

a male Common Blue (tiriltungeblåvinge)

99.9% wolf

Friday, 21 June 2019

Still surprising

I often have posts along the lines of The Dale delivers or The Dale surprises, well it keeps on doing both. Mid June should be a period of few surprises with all birds in breeding modus. Of course there can be some interesting breeding birds but I should have discovered these already by now.

Well over the last 3 days the Dale has given me Red-breasted Flycatcher (surprise), Honey Buzzard, Red-backed Shrike, Spotted Redshank (big surprise), Marsh Warbler, Three-toed Woodpecker, Common Rosefinch plus young Goshawks and Common Terns in seemingly three different ages classes plus loads more.

Red-breasted Flycatchers have bred the last two years so I had high hopes they would reappear this year but visits in May failed to reveal any and with very few having been recorded in Norway this spring I assumed that was that. But on Wednesday I felt sure that I could hear a distant singing RbF and as I excitedly walked closer it became clear that it was one. I then was very interested to see what the bird looked like – could it be the same old male from the last two years? No, was the answer, it was a 2cy male and therefore lacking the red. But this then raises questions. Did the pair whose nest fell down last year breed again unnoticed by us (not for lack of trying) or was this a completely new bird in which case the area has an amazing attraction for the species which otherwise is not recorded breeding annually in Norway. He was singing very actively in the 45 minutes I was with him but was not to be found again yesterday. At this late time of the spring an unmated male probably moves around a lot hoping desperately to find a female in time. The last time I was in the area was 4 June so the bird could also clearly also have been around for a while before I found it.

On Wednesday, I also first had a skydancing Honey Buzzard at some distance and then when I got to the area I had what was most likely another Honey Buzzard 20 minutes later and this one a female was dogfighting with a Peregrine!

I visited the Three-toed Woodpecker nest site just in case they were still nesting. The male was present and I followed him for over an hour during which he stayed within 100m of the nest including on a neighbouring tree but never visited the nest and there was no sign that the female was in the nest so I still believe nesting has failed but can’t be 100% sure.

Both male Red-backed Shrikes are still around and Marsh, Icterine and Wood Warblers singing. Common Rosefinches are present at one site where there is a pair and a male who is trying to get in on the action. Interestingly all three birds could be in the same area without there being any calling or singing but the paired male would actively chase off the other male only for him to return.

Yesterday on the lake three men from the Water Company (Maridalsvannet is the source of Oslo’s drinking water) were out on the main island. I only saw them when they were getting back on their boat so don’t know what they were doing or how long they had been there but the island was empty og birds and lots of gulls and geese were on the water plus also a pair of Black-throated Divers. It did not take long after the men had left for the gulls to return and one of the divers swam towards the island. I then suddenly noticed three waders washing themselves on the waters eddge. The distance was great but they were 2 Greenshank and 1 summer plumage Spotted Redshank! The only previous record of Spot Red here was also in June during rainy weather and these birds are most likely adult females that leave their breeding grounds after the eggs have hatched and leave childcare to the male. I rushed around to get close to the island but in the 15 minutes it took me the waders had continued on their way. I did see though that Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls were back on their nests and there were also at least 4 young LBBGs walking about so if the Water Company people had been trying to remove the birds for pollution reasons (which I understand they are allowed to do) then they hadn’t succeeded. I also saw that a Black-throated Diver was clearly on a nest which goes against my comment from last week that the divers ahd clearly given up nesting due to the high water levels. They have nested late before though and last year young were still being fed by their parents in September.

The final surprise yesterday was provided by Common Terns. This species is very irregular on the lake but yesterday I heard and then saw 4 birds. The surprise was not the number (which is a record) but the ages of the birds. Two looked like standard adults but one was seemingly a 2cy and the other was not quite adult and therefore I assume to be a 3cy. Non adult birds normally stay in the winter quarters so it is rare to see younger age classes in Norway.

Things are going well in both the Goshawk nests after both failed last year. In one nest there are 4 youngsters and in the other which is much higher up I saw one large youngster but there could well have been more.

Today I decided to spend some time watching the island with the breeding gulls and divers. I spent three and half hours there from 0925-1255 and can report that during that time the sitting diver did not leave the nest, none of the baby gulls were fed by their parents and that baby gulls are very good at hiding in grass. Oh, and you get a numb bum sitting on a rock for so long….

It looks like a female Red-breasted Flycatcher (dvergfluesnapper) but it sang so is therefore a 2cy male

female Honey Buzzard (vepsevåk) and Swift (tårnseiler)
with a 2cy Peregrine (vandrefalk). Here the HB looks very like a Common Buzzard (musvåk)

a male Blackcap (munk)

4 young in one of the Goshawk (hønsehauk) nests

a nest last used 3 years ago which now has grass growing out the top
the mother of the 4 young

and the other Goshawk nest where only one youngster was visible. Note how both the nests have fresh green branches placed on them

a Spotted Flycatcher (gråfluesnapper) on its eggs
male Three-toed Woodpeckers (tretåspett) and its seemingly abandoned nest hole

it is typical for this species to feed low down and also have a nest low down

Whooper Swans (sangsvane)

the 2cy Common Tern (makrellterne)

an adult Common Tern

same bird

and a bird which is possibly a 3cy due to a dark bill and black on the secondaries
female Goldeneye (kvinand) and young
female Mallard (stokkand) and young

male Lapwing (vipe) who clearly had a youngster nearby
and here letting me know my presence was unwanted

one of the Red-backed Shrikes (tornskate)

it is difficult to grow tired of Common Rosefinches (rosenfink)

a pair
and the female who is very non descript

I'm not quite sure whether this Sand Martin (sandsvale) has some sort of insect growing out of it or whether it is a tumor. I am also unsure whether it is missing its lower mandible or not
taken at 2km range this shows the Spotted Redshank (sotsnipe) flanked by two Greenshank (gluttsnipe)

Whitethroat (tornsanger) with food for young

and a male Yellowhammer (gulspurv) on the same errand

and here a newly fledged Yellowhammer
nesting Black-throated Divers (storlom) 
the nest is quite a way from the water but the horizontal line on the rock shows the (high) water level until recently. I waited 3 and a half hours to see this bird walk down to the water but it had more patience than me...

Herring Gulls (gråmåke) with 2 young
3 young Lesser Black-backed Gulls (sildemåke)
and a single youngster presumably just hatched as the adult was still sitting on other eggs
these 6 Lapwings (vipe) briefly landed on the island. It was unclear whether they were local birds or migrants but a concentration this early in the season suggests failed breeding