Thursday, 29 August 2019

Playing away from home

With rain in the air yesterday I abandoned Maridalen and headed for Årnestangen with a hope of a wader bonanza. There was rain but no bonanza with a meager 12 Dunlin as the most numerous species. There was a bit of variety though with Temminck’s Stint, Grey Plover and Knot the scarcest waders. I had 5 Marsh Harriers (Hen and hopefully Pallid should also arrive soon) and an adult White-tailed Eagle and best of all the two Great White Egrets which have now been here for a month.

It rained really hard today but was far too much (and lots of lightening) to make the prospect of another trip to Årnestangen appealing. I instead popped into Maridalen where the Beast and I got soaking wet but did have a couple of Bluethroats and a Hobby as reward. The hide at Østensjøvannet seemed like a good idea – it might be useless as a hide but does keep you dry in the rain – although the hoardes of hirundines and terns and Little Gulls that I had hoped for were not present. I did however find a Slavonian Grebe (less than annual here) and a couple of Little Grebes which were first found a couple of days ago.

Both the Great White Egrets (egretthegre) 

an older (2cy+) female Marsh Harrier (sivhauk) that headed very purposefully south

whereas this juvenile was honing its hunting skills

Cranes (trane)

adult Grey Plover (tundralo) with a Temminck's Stint (trust me)

Bluethroat (blåstrupe) in the Dale

2 Bluethroats having an altercation

a leucistic Coot (sothøne) at Østensjøvannet - I initially thought a large bird had shat on him!

adult Hobby (lerkefalk) in Maridalen

Little Grebes (dvergdykker). The bird on the right is an adult in summer plumage (not often I have seen this plumage in Norway) and the other bird probably a bird of the year

not ofthen you see them in flight

Slavonian Grebe (horndykker) - I'm not sure whether this is an adult in transitional plumage or a youngster

this bird also decided to fly

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Can't leave the Dale

Where else would I be than Maridalen today? It was hot, almost too hot and a record temperature was set in SW Norway today. Bird wise I had pretty much the expected species but there is always something new. Both Pintail and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker were new for the year for me in Maridalen and a male Red-backed Shrike still feeding three begging young might indicate yet another pair that has bred in or very close to the Dale. I only had one Honey Buzzard sighting today (although didn’t spend too much time looking) and this was a female and seemingly a new bird.

Dragonflies were everywhere and my raptor spotting was made difficult by the sheer number of them in the air which frequently fooled me into thinking I was on to a distant raptor (strangley enough I had no Hobbies eating them). Most of the large species were so active that it was impossible to see what they were but I managed to identify Southern Hawker (blågrønnlibelle), Brown Hawker (brunlibelle), Common Hawker (starrlibelle), Golden-ringed Dragonfly (kongelibelle), a late Four-spotted Chaser (firflekkbredlibelle), Black Darter (svarthøstlibelle), Yellow-winged Darter (gulvingehøstlibelle), Ruddy Darter (blodhøstlibelle), Vagrant Darter (sørhøstlibelle) and Emerald Damselfly (nordmetallvannymfe). In addition, I almost certainly saw Common Darter (Senhøstlibelle) and Common Blue Damselfly (innsjøvannymfe) which I know are there are the moment but I did not document them. I may also have had a Migrant Hawker (septemberlibelle) but managed no photos and this would be a good record.

Butterflies were also very numerous today even if the diversity has become much less. Red Admirals are now the most numerous, followed by Small Tortoiseshells and Painted Ladies with just a few Peacocks, Brimstones and Green-veined and Small Whites. Thistles attract all these species and seeping sap on birch trees proves especially attractive to the Red Admirals.

one less Painted Lady (tistelsommerfugl) but a bit more energy for a Red-backed Shrike (tornskate) before the long autumn migration begins

ecological garden leaves lots of insects and this plot has proven to be very attractive to up to 6 young shrikes

these 2 (of 3) youngsters are still not independent and were succesfully begging for food from dad

this 1cy male Bluethroat (blåstrupe) may well have been around for a week or so
Pintail (stjertand) is a rare bird in the Dale but records from other places suggest that a distinct passage of the species is occuring at the moment. This is a male based on the bill and tertials and may well be the bird that was on Akerselva in the spring
todays Honey Buzzard (vepsevåk) which I reckon is a female

looks at all the Red Admirals!

Red Admiral and Peacock (dagåpåfugløye)

Small Tortoiseshells (neslesommerfugl)

This pair of Yellow-winged Darters (gulvingehøstlibelle) represent the first proof of "breeding" of the species in Oslo!

and there were at least an additional 4 males
this Four-spotted Chaser (firflekklibelle) is a late record
Golden-ringed Dragonflies (kongelibelle) are incredibly smart! 
male Black Hawker (svarthøstlibelle) is a tiny dragonfly and the easiest to identify
This Ruddy Darter (blodhøstlibelle) is the only the second time I have noted the species in Maridalen. If I had used some time and photographed a Common Darter (which is the commonest species in the Dale) then I would have had all 5 of the resident Norwegian Darters species

Monday, 26 August 2019

Keeping to the Dale

We are having a mini heatwave with temperatures up to 25C this afternoon but in the morning there was a heavy fog hanging over Maridalen that didn’t lift until nearly noon. Just after the fog lifted and it suddenly became hot there was a lot of (mosly distant) Honey Buzzard activity with at least 6 birds around the Dale. I had also heard one calling in the mist earlier. One male Honey Buzzard was active in the area where I saw another male on three occasions last week showing that different birds use the same areas to search for food. I also had three sightings of Hobby with at least two birds as I saw an adult and a 1cy.

Three Red-backed Shrikes and a  Bluethroat were still present and a Wryneck was new. I also had my first Wheatears of the autumn and Meadow and Tree Pipits and Willow Warblers were more numerous. Other birds included Crane, Goshawk, Whooper Swan, Red-throated Diver, Black Woodpecker, Whinchat and Nutcracker.

Wryneck (vendehals) - always a scarce bird on autumn passage

Bluethroat (blåstrupe) 
Red-backed Shrike (tornskate)

Wheatear (steinskvett)

1cy Goshawk (hønsehauk)

adult Hobby (lerkefalk)

adult male Honey Buzzard (vepsevåk)

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Studying Honey Buzzard

Yesterday was a VERY interesting day in the Dale. After all of Thursday’s rain I had expected there to be more migrant passerines on the deck but that was not the case. Instead we were back to Tuesday’s numbers with still 4 Red-backed Shrikes and a Bluethroat in the fields at Kirkeby. The Cranes were also still on theit favoured field so when I saw them circling high up on Wednesday this must just have been to stretch their wings

With a cloudy but warm morning leading to a sunny and hot afternoon I was hoping for some Honey Buzzard action and I was not to be disappointed. From my chosen watch point I was able to watch a male (the same one that I took pictures of on Tuesday and Wednesday in the same area) repeatedly flying with food to a (presumed) nest. In the course of 2 hours I saw him 6 times – 3 times heading NW with food in talons and 3 times heading back SE about 15 minutes later. He flew out of sight both to the NW and SE so I could not see where the nest or feeding site were but it was fascinating to watch and must count as proof of there being young in the nest. The food items look to be the (expected) wasps nests and were very thin sections. It would be absolutely fascinating to be able to follow a Honey Buzzard from when it wakes up and goes out searching for a wasps nest – it must have to pick up individual wasps and then follow them back to their nest! I would love to see it in action digging out the wasps nest (they are normally underground), dealing with the angry wasps and dividing up the nest into sizes it can carry (how many visits does it have to make to take the whole nest?)

This bird had a distance of at least 4 kms between the presumed nest and feeding areas so they cover huge areas in their search for wasps. One of the reasons that I see Honey Buzzards far more often in Maridalen in late August than earlier must be that the nests are in the forest 1-2 km from the valley and that they presumably are able to find food closer to the nest early in the season but have to travel more widely later as the young get larger and need more food and the locals wasps nest have all been located.

I only had one other Honey this time which was a bird that seemed to be migrating purposefully SSE. Other raptors were also less noticeable with only 2 Common Buzzards, 3 Sparrowhawks and an Osprey.

Biggest surprise of the day though came when I was scanning to try to find the Honey heading back north for the 4th time when I saw a flock of waders quite high up. I got them in the scope and they were 8 Grey Plovers heading SW!! Yet another new species for Maridalen and an Oslo tick for me. When I have been at Årnestangen and seen waders falling out of the sky I have always realised that there is a mostly unseen migration going on high over us so it was satisfying to witness it for once.

male Honey Buzzard (vepsevåk). Here clearly with food in its talons. The plumage and moult shows it to be the same bird I took pictures of on Tuesday and Wednesday

the three top pictures show it headin NW with food and the 3 bottom pictures show it ca.15 minutes later heading SE ready to collect more 

the approximate route followed
Bluethroat (blåstrupe)

Nutcrackers (nøttekråke) are very obvious as they collect hazel nuts

Red-backed Shrike (tornskate)

In the field I had this bird as an obvious Willow Warbler (løvsanger) but from my pictures I cannot manage to see why it isn't a Chiffchaff (gransanger) although it is perhaps possible to see that P5 is emarginated and not P6 (nerdy detail..)

Sparrowhawk (spurvehauk) - a 1cy female I think

and here is proof...... of the Grey Plovers (tundarlo). After watching them in the scope I thought I should try to see if I could get any sort of picture as they disappeared in the distance and this is what I managed :-)