Most of July was spent a usual at our cabin near Bodø in the north of Norway. Over the years I have found some good birds close to the cabin but this year had to be content with admiring a male Surf Scoter that had been found before I got there.
I finally felt like I cracked orchirds and went a long way to identifying the species that have always confused me plus finding many new species. I had some luck with butterflies although a specific trip to an alpine locality revealed only one of potentially 10 new and scarce species I had hoped to find.
|Red-necked Phalarope (svømmesnipe) on the drive up to the north|
|Purple-edged Copper (purpurgulvinge) a pretty amazing little butterfly and one I have only seen near our cabin|
|Fly Orchid (flueblom)|
|Broad-leaved Helleborine (breiflangre)|
|Surf Scoter (brilleand)|
|Arctic Skua (tyvjo)|
Dragonflies took up a lot of my time in August back in Oslo and birding wise there was nothing too special to report. The end of the month is normally a good time for multiple (and close) sightings of Honey Buzzards in Maridalen but only a handful of records this year suggested a failed breeding season. Common Buzzards though clearly had a very good breeding season and could be seen in double digit groups. Bluethroats also showed up in good numbers at the month end.
|thermalling Common Buzzards (musvåk) - I have never seen so many as this autumn|
|one Dragonfly eating another|
There are usually two things that keep me occupied in September: Taiga Beans and Værøy. I was unable to visit Værøy this year after having had annual trips since 2012 and really missed it – both the birds and the birders. Instead of Værøy I had some trips into Oslo’s forests which resulted in my best ever views of Hazel Grouse along with Hawk and Pygmy Owl and Three-toed Woodpecker which I dubbed the Fabulous Four. Kingfishers also graced Maridalen – this species is benefitting from a string of mild winters – as did a male Grey-headed Woodpecker.
|singing Hazel Grouse (jerpe)|
|Hawk Owl (haukugle)|
|Yellow-browed Warbler (gulbrynsanger)|
|Pygmy Owl (spurveugle)|
|hovering Common Buzzard (musvåk)|
|and hovering Rough-legged Buzzard (fjellvåk)|
|another shot of Hazel Grouse - I really was lucky with this species this autumn|
|male Grey-headed Woodpecker (gråspett) - a Maridalen rarity|
October is the month for really rare birds to turn up and for me this meant being able to twitch a Red-flanked Bluetail at Fornebu. This was a county first and made up in a small way for not being able to go to Værøy. Otherwise, the month was dominated by owls. Rodent numbers are suddenly very high around Oslo and Hawk Owls that turned up in September hung around showing there was ample food. Pygmy Owls were also appearing after being absent for a couple of years and ringers further north were catching fair numbers of Tengmalm’s Owls. This prompted Per Christian and I to try to lure our own Tengmalms and we had a fantastic session one evening where we brought in two Tengmalm’s and saw one incredibly well. We also had Hawk and Tawny Owl and the next morning I had Pygmy in the same area so it was owltastic.
Things got even better on the owl front when I discovered a daytime roosting Tengmalm’s at Fornebu which is the first time ever I have done so. Bearded Tits also brightened up Fornebu after being absent last year and a boat trip with Halvard gave a locally rare Black Guillemot. Soon after this there was a large influx of auks into the inner Oslofjord resulting in close encounters with the three commoner species.
|it is difficult to get tired of Long-tailed Tits (stjertmeis) and there were a lot around this autumn|
|easy to see why it is called Red-flanked Bluetail (blåstjert)|
|close up of a Tengmalm's Owl (perleugle)|
|the whole bird|
|Tawny Owl (kattugle)|
|Pygmy Owl (spurveugle)|
|a daytime Tengmalm's|
|siberian Chiffchaff (sibirgransager) at Fornebu which is a favoured spot for this species in late autumn|
|Bearded Tit (skjeggmeis)|
|Black Guillemot (teist)|
|Little Auk (alkekonge)|
November mainly involved trying to get better photos of long staying birds such as Hawk Owl and Bearded Tit and Hazel Grouse plus searching for the Grey-headed Woodpecker which was still in Maridalen.
|Hawk Owl ejecting a pellet|
|can never get too much of Beardies|
|same bird just seconds apart|
|the Grey-headed Woodpecker (gråspett) turned up every now and again on feeders|
|back lit Beardie|
|and a final Hazel Grouse for the road|
December was a quiet month with the forests almost devoid of birds which was in stark contrast to last winter when the abundant crops of berries and seeds made the forests alive with birds. Two Hawk Owls, 3-4 Common Buzzards and the odd Great Grey Shrike in Maridalen were almost the commonest species in the Dale. Common Buzzard has never over wintered in Maridalen before so for at least three birds to be attempting it was quite sensational and proof of the abundant rodent population and probably also the mild weather.
|studio shot of Hawkie|
|and a male Three-toed Woodpecker (tretåspett) to finish off the year|