Friday, 17 September 2021

End of week round up

We are now getting to the time of the year when trips to the forest can pay dividends. I have visited two of my favourite areas and heard 4 Hazel Grouse (but not yet seen one, although have been close enough to hear the whirring of wings), had a single Pygmy Owl and discovered a Three-toed Woodpecker nest but have yet to see any of the ‘peckers. Things should just get better in the coming weeks and now I know where some of the birds are I can now work out how best and easiest to see them.

I have also found the time to visit Nordre Øyeren which was very productive with a total of 5 Great (White) Egrets which is a new record for me, White-tailed Eagles, Hen and Marsh Harriers, Honey Buzzards, 28 Black-tailed Godwits topping the bill.

Pygmy Owl (spurveugle) and a Great Tit (kjøttmeis) which was unhappy with its presence

4 Great (White) Egrets (egretthegre) in the mighty Svellet

and a 5th one at Årnestangen

surprisingly enough this was only my second Hen Harrier (myrhauk) of the year

a young White-tailed Eagle (havørn) a 2cy bird I believe

and an adult

same bird. The head is not very pale and the bird is I belive a young adult

a man with a camera in a boat scaring all the birds away

      and here a man with a camera on land who has also scared all the birds away

the same place (Storøykilen at Fornebu) at the same time the day before when said man with camera was not present...

Eider (ærfugl)

A Three-toed Woodpecker nest hole. As is often the case it is in a spruce and very low down

Wednesday, 15 September 2021


Birding has been in dribs and drabs recently with short trips to Maridalen, Fornebu and Østensjøvannet squeezed in around other responsibilities plus my first attempt at owls this autumn with Per Christian.

Fornebu has been the best local sight with a lot of geese providing quantity and 4 Black-tailed Godwits providing quality. This autumn has seen an unprecedented influx of this species (of the Icelandic sub species) to the Oslo area and in addition to there being lots of birds they have also hung around for a long time. I have also been hoping to see a Great White Egret or Spotted Crake at Fornebu but am still hoping.

In Maridalen another migrating juvenile Honey Buzzard is perhaps a sign that the species had an OK breeding season elsewhere in Norway despite things looking bad around Maridalen.

 Per Christian and I were tempted to try for owls due to reports of large numbers of Tengmalm’s Owls being caught by ringers further north and our own success (without a net) in October last year. Our first (of hopefully many) trips produced a singing Pygmy Owl and a couple of calling Tawny Owls but no joy on the Tengmalm’s front although we called it a night at 2115 which was probably too early. We also heard a couple of flocks of Pink-footed Geese heading south in the dark which are my first of the autumn and I wonder how far they had flown yesterday as there are not many reports of staging birds further north.

Black-tailed Godwit (svarthalespove)

A Little Grebs (dvergdykker) at Fornebu. A Slavonian Grebe (horndykker) has also been reported at the same site but I wonder if it is the same bird. In a sign of how little I have travelled out of Oslo this year I have yet to see Slav Grebe in 2021

Greylag Geese, Barnacle Geese, Black-tailed Godwits and Grey Heron. Just need to add Great White Egret and Spotted Crake to the picture

An adult Common Buzzard (musvåk) in Maridalen. There are surprisingly few around

and a dark juv Honey Buzzard (vepsevåk) - not an easy plumage to identify on bad views

The young Whooper Swans (sangsvane) can clearly fly now as they have moved away from their breeding site but the young do not look fully grown just yet

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Thinking of Værøy

Today, it is raining – not a lot but it finally feels like autumn and my thoughts go to Værøy and wondering about what exciting birds I will not be seeing…

In Maridalen ahead of the rain yesterday there was a slight change in the bird life with late(ish) records of Common Sandpiper and Whinchat, still a few Tree Pipits (but not the hoped for Red-throated) and an increase in the number of Wheatears. Bird of the day though was a Guillemot. This species is often seen in the autumn following storms but there has been to weather that would push a bird inland so it is a bit of a mystery as to why it was there.

I spent a lot of time sky gazing hoping for raptors but there was disappointingly little to see although an adult male Osprey flying high to the north with a fish and undoubtedly to a nest was a surprise. A surprise because it is late for young to still be in the nest and also a surprise because it looked as though it was coming with the fish from the fjord (wasn’t coming from Maridalsvannet at least) so was flying a very long distance (20km) between feeding ground and nest.

male Osprey (fiskeørn) still taking food to the nest

Common Sandpiper (strandsnipe) flying in front of Greylag Geese (grågås)

this Guillemot (lomvi) was a big surprise

Sparrowhawk (spurvehauk) and Goshawk (hønsehauk) - when the size difference is so obvious it amazes me how individual birds can often be a challenge to identify

Wheatear (steinskvett)

and another with a Tree Sparrow (pilfink)

high key Whooper Swans (sangsvane)

Friday, 10 September 2021

Taiga Bean Geese autumn 2021

I was unsure whether I would be unable to visit the Taiga Bean Geese (now officially a species in its own right) this autumn but I suddenly had time yesterday so made the 40 minute drive up to the Glomma River. I made contact with the geese at my first attempt which was a relief and saw a flock feeding in one of their favoured stubble fields. Canada and Barnacle Geese were on the same field and were feeding close to the road in the middle of the field whereas the Beans, in typical fashion, were at the far side on the edge of the field close to a wood.

Due to the long range I was unable to read any collars or see if there were young in the flock but could try to count them. This is always difficult as they often choose uneven ground to feed on and no two counts are ever the same. I came to 101 as being a reliable count but after only 10 minutes they flew off down to the river. I fired off lots of photos hoping that they would allow me to see neck collars or leg rings and make an accurate count. The pictures were not god enough to identify any ringed birds but I could see (only) three had collars. I was also able to count 105 birds.

I followed them down to the river and here they were swimming in a tight flock. After 20 minutes a bird flew in from the north calling and joined them. It would be interesting to know where this bird had come from. Had he just flown in from Sweden or had he been left behind at the overnight roost or somewhere closer by earlier in the day? On the river I counted 126 bird so there must have been a small flock already on the river.

126 is a lowish autumn count and maybe due to low breeding success. With only 3 collars noted it is also clear that the many of the older birds are no longer with us. This small population is always vulnerable.

The Taiga Bean (taigasædgås) at the back of the field

The Taigas taking off with Canada and Barnacle Geese in the foreground
some of the flock in flight. The left hand bird looks to have a GPS collar with solar cell, the middle bird I am not sure about but is probably a GPS collar and the right hand bird has an old, and no longer working, GPS collar.

on way to the river

on the river where I counted 126

this single bird flew in from the north calling constantly 

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Juvenile Honey Buzzards

Despite exceptionally hot weather (25C today) it is clearly autumn. Mornings in Maridalen reveal hundreds of Bramblings in the air and thrushes are slowly starting to flock. There are hardly any warblers left and it is only the odd Chiffchaff that readily makes their presence known. There are still a lot of Swallows around but their numbers seem to dwindle day by day. Dunnocks are also making their presence known with calling birds flying over. Hopefully this autumn will surprise with a Red-flanked Bluetail or Rustic Bunting brightening things ups

This morning I had a bit of raptor action in the Dale with two juvenile Honey Buzzards slowly migrating south They flew together and are I imagine siblings although were very different looking. I saw them quite well but if I had been in my usual raptor watching place would have had them right overhead. Continued sky gazing revealed an Osprey, 2 Kestrels, a Goshawk and 8 Sparrowhawks but the biggest surprise was a flock of 7 Ruff flying north!

I visited Østensjøvannet yesterday evening hoping to pull a Rose-coloured Starling out of the Common Starling roost but had to be content with the sight and sound of 1000 Starlings which even Jr Jr thought was quite impressive. A couple of Sparrowhawks and a Goshawk were looking for supper and a couple of hundred Swallows went to roost in the reedbeds. Østensjøvannet gets very little coverage in the evenings but this is probably the best time to be there in the autumn.

Two juvenile Honey Buzzards (vepsevåk) a dark and a light bird

bit more detail of the light bird

and the dark bird

dark bird

light bird again

2 of the 7 Ruff flying over Maridalen. Only the second record in the Dale

12 Ruff were at Østensjøvannet today

Tree Sparrows (pilfink) in Maridalen. One day there will be a House Sparrow amongst them..

juvenile Goldfinch (stillits)

adult and juv

Common Starling (stær) assembling before roost