Thursday, 26 March 2020

Being faithful

I felt guilty after playing away from home yesterday and showed Mari my love this morning. I finally see having the dog as an advantage now because he gives me a legitimiate excuse to be out (in these Corona times) and also forces the rest of the family out. Exercise and fresh air cannot be overrated.

Today started overcast and in Maridalen the tops of the surrounding hills were in the cloud. During spring migration this is good conditions for seeing migrating birds (although rain would have been even better) and Maridalen did not disappoint. There were no big movements of passerines to witness (although my start after 9am would have been after most viz mig had finished) but there were many more birds than there have been. I first noticed that there were more Blackbirds then I became aware of Mistle Thrushes, first a singing bird but then birds migrating north (with one of these also singing) and then finding birds feeding. I counted around 30 birds in total. Amongst the Mistle Thrushes and Starlings were also my first Redwing and Song Thrush of the year. Linnet and White Wagtail for also new 2020 and fly over Snow Bunting and Twite were new for Oslo. So, lots of new species even if there were no big flocks.

There was non-passerine Viz mig though with small flocks of Wood Pigeons (although maybe they are a passerine?) passing north, Pink-footed Geese and Cormorants. I first picked up a tight flock of Cormorants on the lake. This species is common in small numbers feeding during the summer months and these birds are of the continental race sinensis which now breeds in Southern Norway. A flock early in the spring though will be birds of the nominate race carbo. These birds are heading to their breeding areas off the coast of Northern Norway and some birds fly up the Oslo fjord and then overland. It is always interesting seeing these birds which normally migrate in flocks of 10-30 birds. When they reach the end of the Oslo fjord they are clearly unsure of where to go and often spend a long time flying around in circles before eventually heading north. Today’s flock was typical of this behaviour. Seeing on them lake (rather than migrating over) was a first though and was clearly a result of the low cloud. As the cloud began to lift mid-mornng they took off and spent 20 minutes flying in irregular loops around the valley with much stalling and changing of direction before eventually heading off in a northerly direction. With the Cormorants it seems that they lack a clear leader whereas Pink-footed Geese seem to know exactly where they are going. Whilst the Cormorants were faffing around a flock of 150 Pink-footed Geese arrived from the south and flew purposesfully past them and headed directly north. Another 2 flocks passed soon after giving 440 birds in total.

On the lake the female Smew was still present and 4 Teal were the first for the year.

My eBirds check lists can be seen here:

The Cormorant (storskarv) flock on the lake. I estimated 30 birds and when they took off there turned out to be 26

here the flock can be seen stalling in mid air with the leading birds uncertain of what to do

here they are heading south during their 20 minutes of indecision 
this is one of the flocks of Pink-footed Geese (kortnebås) that were very decisive and just headed north into the mist
Grey Wagtail (vintererle) are now back in force but a flyover White Wagtail (linerle) was my first of the year
Mistle Thrushes (duetrost) were numerous with around 30 noted
here together with my first Redwing (rødvingetrost) of the year
and here my first Song Thrush (måltrost) of the year

the valley's breeding pair of Whooper Swans did a lap of the area possibly to look for intruders (last year another pair were possibly the cause of the failed breeding as they used a lot of energy trying to chase them off) 

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