OK, so I might not be seeing be seeing many wingbars or “megas” at the moment but one of the joys of birding is that the idea of rarity is a relative thing. A rare bird in Norway will be a common bird somewhere else and what gets us excited all depends on the geographical boundaries we are operating in. So, a Cape May Warbler will be common in certain parts of the US (although apparently not in Cape May where it really is a mega) whilst it causes people to travel overnight in Norway.
The Azores islands are in the middle of the Atlantic and could equally be included in the Americas or Western Palearctic. They have ended up being included in WP and this drives many European birders to travel there every autumn to see the American birds that regularly turn up. It would be cheaper and easier to travel to the east coast of the USA and see the same birds but then they wouldn’t have the same relative rarity value that is all decided by the geographical area one has chosen. Those who have a local patch can get very excited about birds that are just common a few kilometers away - I for example would throw a party if I saw a House Sparrow in Maridalen but wouldn’t bat an eye lid if I saw one in my garden just 5 minutes drive away.
Today, I had one of those relative days. Whilst bemoaning that I am stuck in Oslo and closely following the antics of people on Værøy, Røst or Utsira there is always something to find out there. A dog and family walk in Maridalen started off very quietly. It was a wonderful autumn day with no wind and great colours on the trees but there were hardly any birds either. As we sat down for some refueling I heard what I was sure was a Grey-headed Woodpecker calling from the otherside of a bay on the lake. This is a species I see barely annually (although occurs over most of Norway) and have seen just twice before in Maridalen so this was a big thing. After a bit of waiting and some encouragement if flew across the bay and landed in the trees behind where we were sitting and carried on calling. Mrs. OB and Jr Jr couldn’t quite work out was the fuss was about but I filled my boots for as long as it lasted.
Another interesting sighting was of an injured juvenile Whooper Swan on the lake. This will be missing youngster who clearly isn’t dead as I assumed but its drooping wings testify that it cannot fly and has been abandoned by the family. I have no idea what has caused the injury but my best guess would be flying into the wires over the bridge at Dausjøelva which one of its parents also did last spring. It is perhaps surprising that they have already abandoned one of their young but the ability to fly is key for a migratory species that will head south in a few weeks. Many large species lay few eggs and put a lot of effort into raising maybe only one youngster every other year but the fact that Whooper Swans lay 8 eggs suggests that they expect to lose many along the way.
|male Grey-headed Woodpecker (gråspett)|
And a hand held video (hence the shake) where the call can be heard
|The injured juvenile Whooper Swan (sangsvane)|
|spot the photographer who at this point had not spotted the swan|