Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Long-tailed Skua

The weather forecast for yesterday was for winds of 10m/s directly from the south at the head of the inner Oslofjord so I made my way to Krokstrand in the morning. As I drove down the few remaining leaves on the trees along the road were hardly moving and when I arrived at Krokstrand the sea was calm. So yet again a weather forecast that didn’t hit the mark and the forecast rain showers turned out to be deluges…

There were a lot of auks moving though and they were now mostly Guillemots with just a few Razorbills and not even a single Little Auk. I gave it an hour and a half and did have one very good bird – a juvenile Long-tailed Skua. For a bird that breeds on the mountains of southern Norway it is surprisingly rare around Oslo and this is just my second local record.

The winds yesterday also brought a couple of Pallid Swifts close to Oslo as part of a large influx into Scandinavia although news took a while to leak out..

Today, there was more wind than had originally been forecast although I was restricted to a short trip to the fjord at Fornebu. Further south Grey Phalaropes and a Sooty Shearwater were seen but off Fornebu I couldn’t find anything interesting amongst the hundreds of Guillemots that were flying around in circles or sitting on the sea. A number of Guillemots had also continued inland and I had 3 flying over the ring road on my way to Fornebu and then five later on at Maridalsvannet.

I don't know whether these pictures of the Long-tailed Skua (fjelljo) count as a record shot but I saw it better in the scope. It was a very distinctive bird with a white head

Guillemot (lomvi) from today. Look at the next pictures to see what popped up

compare this photo to the ones of Razorbill and Little Auk that I posted last time. Note the streak flanks of this Guillemot

this Guillemot could prompt thoughts of a Brunnich's but note the dark armpits

Common Buzzard (musvåk) in Maridalen today - my latest ever Oslo record by 10 days

Monday, 26 October 2020


Southerly winds brought large numbers of auks into the Inner Oslofjord over the weekend and this morning a calm sea was covered with them. From Bygdøy and Fornebu I must have seen 2-300 of which I would estimate 70% were Razorbills and 30% Guillemots. I only found a single Little Auk but this bird showed ridiculously well at just a few metres range. It was in exactly the same spot as I remember seeing my first Little Auk in Norway 19 years ago so is clearly my lucky spot for the species (I have also seen them here when it has been a wanted species for guiding clients).

When so many auks end up this far up the fjord there is always a worry that they are weak and there isn’t enough food so we will have to hope that they survive.

Little Auk (alkekonge)

it spent a lot of time preening
here I think it is rubbing its oil gland

and a Razorbill (alke)

and a Guillemot (lomvi)

Guillemot and Razorbill side by side

at distance I was getting Brunnich's vibes off this bird but it is just an adult Guillemot which is still moulting out of summer plumage so has lots of black on the face

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Incidental weekend

As usual the weekend involves family and birding is normally an incidental activity but walks around either Fornebu or Maridalen normally feature and then the rate oof incidence can be quite high. Today has been wet and windy and was a perfect day to stay in and try to finish a rather infuriating 2000 piece puzzle but yesterday was lovely. I aired the Beast and Mrs OB with a long walk around Fornebu. As expected there were quite a few long lenses pointed at the reedbed but as far as I know the Beardies did not show. I also received messages about photogenic Snow Buntings and a Long-tailed Duck. The buntings had disappeared by the time I looked for them but the duck was still present. It was right up against the beach and calling when I first saw it and I should have managed great pictures but a canoist and my incompetence meant that didn’t happen – but a nice bird it was.

We also bumped into a couple of tristis Chiffchaff and there seemed to be Blackbirds everywhere. My eBird checklist can be seen here.


As the family went to bed on Saturday I thought I would make use of the extra hour from the clocks range to search one more time for owls in Maridalen. And, for the fifth time I failed to find Tengmalm’s in the Dale so may have to give up on that quest just accept that they prefer to be a bit further into the forest.

a fearless Long-tailed Duck (havelle)

there are very few migrant/nomadic finches around this autumn. This Lesser Redpoll (brunsisik) was with a couple of its large and paler Common cousins

Lesser Redpoll

one of the Common Redpolls (gråsisik) - a larger paler bird

note that this has a quite extensive white rump which was noticeable in flight

Siberian (tristis) Chiffchaff

Tufted Duck (toppand) is common but this is the first time I can remember seeing them on one of the ornamental ponds on Fornebu and their presence was one of the many wonders of migration

Saturday, 24 October 2020

Black Guillemot - Oslo X

Yesterday was a day of contrasts. The morning saw me Beast walking in the forest and then in the afternoon I joined Halvard H on his boat for a fabulous trip on the fjord.

The forest gave up two of its treasures: Hawk Owl and Hazel Grouse. My experience with the grouse went some way to confirming my theory that having the dog with me actually helps in getting good views of this species. All my recent close and prolonged encounters have been when the Beast has been with me. His presence is an irritation when his impatience makes it difficult for me to take photos but I think that the birds are curious about him presumably because he is a predator. When I have gone without him with the sole purpose of getting good photos or guiding then the birds have been far more difficult to see. Maybe he will have to join me guiding….

I was really looking forward to the boat trip on the fjord. There was next to no wind so it would be a pleasant trip and I wouldn’t end up with a bad back for the next two weeks which has the flip side of previous trips. I had also seen a lot of birds on the fjord on Wednesday so expected we would find a lot from the boat. Andreas G was also out on his boat and was ahead of us which took some of the fun out of things as we knew what to expect but in the end there was, with one noticeable exception, very little to see. The exception was a Black Guillemot. I have only seen this species twice previously in Akershus and never in Oslo so when Andreas reported he had seen one then we were very keen o see it. We relocated it around 1.5km from where Andreas saw it and had close views from the boat although taking photos from a boat no matter how calm it is is not easy. The bird was in Akershus although very close to the Oslo border and jokingly (?) I suggested gently encouraging it towards the big smoke. This was not necessary though as the bird of its own accord suddenly took off and flew far into Oslo territory giving me a new county tick and taking me 238 species.

Hazel Grouse (jerpe), as you will see from the sequence of photos it is never an easy bird to photo even if it sits still quite close to you

Hawkie seems quite happy with his chosen clearing

Black Guillemot (teist) with Oslo city centre in the background

a good mystery bird photo

and the proof that it was in Hvervenbukta and therefore Oslo

a Grey Seal (havert)

This Cormorant (storskarv) stood out bt being noticeably smaller and reminded me that I need to read up on the ID of Double Crested Cormorant

This 1st winter Common Gull (fiskemåke) appeared very large and with the well marked bill had me considering Ring-billed Gull

This well marked Velvet Scoter (sjøorre) also caused some excitement until it revealted the white in its wing

less confusion with these adult males (and a young male? on left)