Thursday, 30 July 2020

Maridalen Kingfisher

The rain stopped today and I had a guiding outing to Årnestangen to look at waders. The rain has caused water levels to rise around 30cm and there was a lot less mud. There was also mist when we arrived and when this lifted it was glaring sunshine and heat haze! There was still a good variety of birds to see though although as expected not as much as earlier in the week when it was raining. Barwit, Knot and Grey Plover were today's highlights. I hoped that the sunshine would cause some raptor activity but apart from a lot of Ospreys and a couple of distant Buzzards it was all rather disappointing.

A quick trip into Maridalen provided the undoubted highlight of the day with a flyby Kingfisher which stopped on a branch long enough for a few pictures before disappearing down the river. It was a juvenile and probably comes from Sandvika although there are most likely other undetected pairs breeding within 50km of Oslo.

Kingfisher in Maridalen - only my third record
The pale tip to the bill shows this to be a juvenile but the pluamge offers few clues other than it being fresh whereas an adult would be worn now

spot the bird

not often you see these two together: Sotted Flycatcher (gråfluesnapper) and Greenfinch (grønnfink)

There really aren't many butterflies around but this Lesser Marbled Fritillary (engperlemorvinge) made for a nice picture

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Unexpected July birds

Yesterday saw fairly good weather and a walk with Beast in Maridalen revealed a few odonata with the first Darters of the year now on the wing. Butterflies though were limited to many whites in active flight over a crop field with the only one I saw well enough to identify being a Green-veined (rapssommerfugl). A nettlebed was alive with Small Tortoiseshell caterpillars though.

On the lake a family of Black-throated Divers with two small young suggests a new and late nesting attempt as there was no suggestion that the initial attempts by either pair had been succesful with changing water levels being the likely culprit. Six adult Red-throated Divers were made of a group of 4 vocal birds who were I assume failed or non-breeding birds whereas two others including one in flight looked more like birds finding food to take to young on a distant pond in the forest.
A scolding Marsh Warbler indicated young nearby and a male Red-backed Shrike had at least one begging youngster in tow.

One doesn’t need to take lunch into the field at the moment with enormous quantities of wild raspberries and mushrooms although blueberries are scarce around Oslo this year.

Today the rain took me to Nordre Øyeren and Årnestangen. There is now also some mud in Svellet and this also held good numbers of waders. In total I had 19 species of wader with three new species compared to Sunday (Spotted Redshank, Oystercatcher and Lapwing with just Golden Plover absent today).  Totals of interesting species were 27 Grey Plover, 12 Barwits, 6 Knot, 4 Ruff, 5 Curlew Sands, 5 Sanderling, 119 Dunlin (all adults still) and 2 Spotted Redshanks.

An afternoon trip to Ikea where I spent more time queuing to get in (50 minutes) than inside allowed me to check the fjord at Fornebu on the way home. A summer plumaged Guillemot and a Pink-footed Goose were most unexpected.

Pink-footed Goose (kortnebbgås), Barnacle Geese (hvitkinngås) and Greylag Geese (grågås)

adult summer plumaged Guillemot (lomvi) which is not expected offshore Oslo in July

Nutcracker (nøtekråke) in Maridalen yesterday. This bird had mu on its bill and had probably been burying hazel nuts

and a juvenile Red-backed Shrike (tornskate)
Small Tortoiseshell (neslesommerfugl) caterpillars

the forest's gold

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Watching waders in the rain at Årnestangen

Before I have had the time, or inclination, to go through holiday pictures I had to get out birding this morning. With rain forecast there was no other place to be than Årnestangen and I was not disappointed. There were no rarities but good numbers of brick red arctic breeding waders is always enough to make me happy. Highlight were; 44 Bar-tailed Godwits, 47 Knot, 23 Grey Plover, 6 Sanderling and a Curlew Sandpiper. I had 17 waders species in total and my eBird checklists can be seen here:

There was some coming and going with flocks of both Barwits and Knot arriving whilst I was there and most of the Barwit also continued on their southbound migration. Conditions are looking very good out there but as usual a telescope was necessary and I do not look forward to the day a rare stint or small sandpiper is found there..

Knot (polarsnipe), Sanderling (sandløper), Grey Plover (tundralo) and Curlew Sandpiper (tundrasnipe)

Thursday, 23 July 2020

The mountains revisited

We are back home in Oslo after an uneventful drive home. I haven't got the energy to sit in front of the computer and go through my unprocessed photos and videos from the last 3 weeks but luckily I have a pot I prepared earlier but never got around to publishing:


I have now had a chance to go properly go through all my photos and videos from the long weeked at the end of May in the mountains. I have already posted in detail on the Great Snipe so here are the other species.

up close to a singing male Bluethroat (blåstrupe)

Cuckoo (gjøk)

I only saw three Dotterel (boltit) and none were close to the road

Golden Plover (heilo) and Dunlin (myrsnipe) sharing the same snow free ground
Meadow Pipits (heipiplerke) were numerous and were also feeding on the snow where there were a number of wind blown insects

Rock Ptarmigans (fjellrype) were numerous

and lower down where there was dwarf birch and willows were a few Willow Grouse (lirupe) which has a redder plumage

Shore Larks (fjellerke) were back and singing

despite there being few raptors (just a couple of Kestrels) this Short-eared Owl was on territory so must have found enough rodents. The video shows it flying around on slow wing beats which I took to be display

Temminck's Stints on the road

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Dead Sperm Whale

The summer holiday in Northern Norway is now, unfortunately, over with the long (1200km) journey home starting.
I had a final visit to Klungsetvika and finally the large numbers of ducks had moved further into the fjord and closer to land allowing me to grill them, or at least the ones not sleeping. There were ca.1700 sea/diving ducks with 700 Common Eiders (nearly all males), 600 Velvet Scoters (80% males), 200 Goldeneye, 150 R-b Merganser, a newly arrived flock of 26 male Tufted Ducks, 10 Common Scoter, 2 Long-tailed Duck, a male King Eider and the male Surf Scoter.
A summer plumaged Red-necked Grebe was new in alongside 25 Slavonian Grebes, 40 R-t Diver and 20 B-t Diver.

We also visited a Sperm Whale corpse but unfortunately chose high tide when it was mostly submerged. When down wind of it it was difficult to be unaware of its presence although out in the bay it could easily be overlooked as a rock.

The Sperm Whale was apparently 8m long but was mostly submerged when we were there

There were 2 square holes in the side of the body that must be made by a human produced instrument but I am at a loss to explain how they got there

Friday, 17 July 2020

Searching in vain for rare butterflies

Yesterday, I was up at 4am and drove 2 hours to a site in the mountains close to the Swedish border which has historic records of a number of very exciting butterflies. What I was really hoping to see was Lapland Fritillary Euphydryas iduna (iduns rutevinge) but there were potentially 9 other new and exciting species on offer alpine grizzled skipper Pyrgus andromedae (polarsmyger), northern clouded yellow Colias hecla (mjeltgulvinge), pale Arctic clouded yellow Colias tyche (polargulvinge), Glandon Blue Agriades glandon (polarblåvinge), Thor’s Fritillary Boloria thore (tors perlemorvinge), Freija Fritillary Boloria freija (frøyas perlemorvinge),  mountain fritillary Boloria napaea (fjellperlemorvinge),  arctic ringlet Erebia disa (disas ringvinge) and norse grayling Oeneis norna (nornens ringvinge). 

Instead, in what were perfect butterfly conditions (they were already flying before 7am) I recorded 8 species none of which were new for me but three of which have seemingly only been recorded once in the area before making them locally rarer than the rare species I was hoping for... These were Pearl-bordered Fritillary Boloria euphrosyne (rødflekket perlemorvinge), Cranberry Fritillary Boloria aquilonaris (myrperlemorvinge) and Moorland Clouded Yellow Colias palaeno (myrgulvinge). 


mountain fritillary Boloria napaea (fjellperlemorvinge)

Orchids gave me two new species though with frog orchid Coeloglossum viride grønnkurle and false orchid Chamorchis alpina fjellkurle plus lots of white mountain orchid Pseudorchis straminea fjellhvitkurle of which I had just seen 

Birding wise it was a bit disappointing with no raptors or owls despite there being quite a few tracks from rodents but there were lots of birds with young including Bluethroat and I saw the Surf Scoter on the way.

This Wood Sandpiper (grønnstilk) was clearly breeding and is supposedly a rare breeder in the area as is Mistle Thursh (duetrost) which I also saw

A White mountain orchid (fjellhvitkurle). They were quite common and varied greatly in size

Bog Orchid (grønnkurle) - a small a quite boring orchid

And a really tiny orchid: false orchid (fjellkurle)

Dewy Ringlets (fjellringinge) were common and came in a number of colours. I am not sure if this was due to wear of abberation

Habitat shot

Back at the cabin I have now discovered 8 Broad-leaved helleborines (breiflangre) including one with nice big flowers.

The small green flowers of Common Twayblade (stortveblad) are more impressive at close range