Friday, 29 November 2019

A new ringed Grosbeak

After many, many days of gloom it was wonderful to have blue skies today. I used the day to walk the local area with the Beast in tow and hoped to find more Pine Grosbeaks (and who knows there may be a rare thrush out there eating berries aswell).

I only found Grosbeaks at the same site as where I had them yesterday but today there were 11 birds and most excitingly there was a ringed bird with them. I assumed that it would be the same bird discovered 5km away by Stig Johan on 12 Nov and which I photographed the next day but as I looked at the shots on the back of the camera I got a feeling that it was a different ring. I had to take over 400 pictures but once home I was able to make out the code although yet again I couldn’t quite make out what the address was although saw enough to deduce it was also from Finland.

I sent an email to the Finnish Ringing Centre and got an immediate response. The bird was ringed on 26.4.2017 1278km away in northern Finland and had broken the Finnish distance record for the species by 5km! It was ringed as an adult so would have been in at least its 3rd year meaning it is now at least in its 5th calendar year. A ringing recovery like this has no conservation value whatsoever (as regular readers of this blog will know I am skeptical to the majority of ringing that goes on) but is interesting and filled my time in an enjoyable (for me) way ūüėä.

deciphering the ring from 5 different photos. The ring NUMBER is easy to read but the the two lines with the address are very difficult to read - I have asked the Finns what is actually written there to see if I can reconcile with what I see.. The answer is that it says Museum Zool / Hki Finland.

April is around a month before the birds start breeding so we still don't know the origin of this bird. I would also think that Grosbeaks, like crossbills, are nomadic and might breed in very different areas from one year to the other

This is what an old male Pine Grosbeak looks like. This male was one of 4 in the flock and was noticeably deeper red in colour

another male biting into a berry to get to the seeds

the birds often flew to branches with snow which they ate (to get water) 
with snow on its bill after having "drunk"

the tongue is very important for finches when eating

there were other birds eating berries today. Here a female Blackbird (svarttrost)

and a Blue Tit (blåmeis)

and a Great Tit (kj√łttmeis) which has also removed the seed from the berry and is not interested in the flesh

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Hawkie & Piney!

Yesterday I was tempted out of Oslo for some non-Piney birding. The temptation was a report of a Hawk Owl - a species that has been very scarce in the south of Norway this year. It was reported from an area of farmland that has history with this species and I found it easily sat atop a rather distant dead tree. It didn’t do much other than move its head but will hopefully hang around and offer closer views. Before my dose of Hawkie I had stopped off for a dose of Piney with 12 birds eating berries along a busy road by a Pizza kiosk. So I got that rare, and much talked about (at least by me) Piney and Hawkie double high although not quite on the same level as my encounter on  23 Jan 2013 when I saw both in the same sweep of the bins.

I also had two Great Grey Shrikes, including one in Maridalen, a couple of Peregrines on their favoured pylon in Oslo and two more encounters with Grosbeaks when back in Oslo including 22 feeding along a dual-carriage way by a Kebab shop! In total I had 60 Grosbeaks and the species is probably more numerous and widespread than ever before.

Today it was snowing (although lower down in the city it fell as rain) and I kept things local. Piney was again very much on the menu and I had birds at four sites, and it was very satisfying to find them quite close to home eating berries in a car park which I have been checking regularly. Waxwings are also very numerous and I had 2 flocks of 150 birds.

the Whooper Swan pair is still in Maridalen. Here they are contemplating whether the new snow means it is time to migrate


Pizza loving Piney :-)

Great Grey Shrike (varsler) in Maridalen

Waxwing (sidensvans)

male Pine Grosbeak in the snow today

and a female or juvenile

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Grosbeaks with a city backdrop

On Monday and Tuesday I have really enjoyed watching Pine Grosbeaks with the city skyline as a backdrop. I have previously tried to take pictures of these birds with famous structures in the background such as here but it didn’t work as well I had hoped. The last two days though it has worked much better although it really was rather gloomy which was challenging with regards to shutter speed when shooting at f.25-f.29 (necessary to have the background in some sort of focus).
Pine Grosbeak (konglebit) with the Oslo's highest building, the Rasisson Blu Plaza

with the Posthuset building and Barcode buildings

the white building is the plastic covered government offices that were bombed on 22 July 2011

Royal Palace I

Royal Palace II

Royal Palace III

the harbour

the ski jumps at Holmekollen (where I previously took a picture with the city as a backdrop)

a building site

now at f.6.3 so the background is blurred

I was conscious of the lights behind the birds but didn't quite get the positioning right

the blue lights of the hotel

because it was so gloomy and the birds so close I could use the in-built flash on the bazooka

Monday, 25 November 2019

The Return of the Mallard x Wigeon hybrid

I did of course see some Pine Grosbeaks today and also took some pretty cool photos (if I say so myself) but will wait to publish these such that your lust for the Piney has had a chance to return.

Instead I will treat you with pictures of a dodgy duck. In November 2015, the very competent Anne Kari Norland discovered a Mallard x Wigeon hybrid which stayed the winter and was also lucky enough to get itself blinged. It did not return subsequently until Anne Kari again discovered it a couple of weeks ago. In 2015 it was aged as a 1cy bird (this can be seen by comparing the tertial feathers from then and now – they were much shorter in 2015) so is now in its fifth calendar year. 

I find hybrids very interesting and with this bird there has been a change in its head pattern with it now having a vertical black line in the yellow cheeks which is a feature that many dabbling duck hybrids have and which reminds one of Baikal Teal (indeed over the years many hybrids have been mistakenly identified as Baikal Teal…)

Mallard x Wigeon hybrid. This bird was ringed as 1cy in December 2015 so is now in its 5th year 
those vertical black stripes in the cheeks are reminiscent of Baikal Teal

a comparison of the head pattern in 2015 vs 2019

picture taken with flash (it was gloomy today)

it was dark today - Goosander and Mallards

female Teal