Sunday, 2 May 2021

Three-toes and Hazel Grouse - Guiding goals under control

After the excitement of Thursday things were a bit quieter on the migration front on Friday and even worse yesterday. 1 May is normally a really good day in Maridalen but an overnight frost and blue skies really don’t bring the birds even if the wind is no longer northerly. I awoke at 04:30 which was a bit earlier than I had intended but the hearty song of Blackbird and Robin outside the bedroom window was all I needed out get out of bed with a spring to my stride.

After picking up a coffee from the petrol station I was in Maridalen before 5am and realised that with the frost this was really too early for checking the fields so I decided to head into the forest and go to the closest Black Grouse lek I know of. I have never actually seen birds lekking here but they are often to be heard displaying from tree tops in the area although it is normally just a single male. It is a 25 minute uphill walk and I was soon not feeling the cold despite just having a thin fleece on. When I got close to the lek area I was surprised (and pleased) to hear a Three-toed Pecker and then a male Hazel Grouse. I spent time with the Hazel Grouse until I heard a Black Grouse displaying a few hundred metres away. I was able to get quite close and heard him really well but never saw him and believe he was in a tree top I couldn’t see. He soon went quiet which is normally the case here and I really don’t know if there are enough birds in this area of forest for a proper lek here anymore.

The Hazel Grouse continued to show well on my way back although I couldn’t locate the pecker. Back in Maridalen though I did locate a pair in one of their usual areas and had fantastic views of them feeding together. I don’t believe they have started nesting yet but they should start excavating he hole in the next week or so. It was good to find these birds as I have had trouble pinning them down recently and have been asked to guide to both them and Hazel Grouse.

I had already pinned down Hazel Grouse on Friday (so today’s bird is a bonus back up) when I relocated the pair that showed exceptionally well a couple of weeks ago. They were walking around feeding on the forest floor with the male following and guarding the female and allowed very close approach. Their behaviour suggested that they had found the area where she was going to nest and this will happen very soon (may have already begun as I assume she lays an egg per day). Even though the pair stayed close together the female was invariably walking away from me or obscured and was very difficult to photograph (and nearly all my photos are blurry and from behind) whereas the male would often stop and look at me as though he was protecting her.

Despite my bemoaning the lack of migration I have noted my first Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Common Sandpiper in the last couple of days and also had the first Tree Pipits singing in the forest yesterday.

I have taken rather too many pictures so this post has been a long time in the production stage and I have even sacrificed a pre breakfast Sunday trip into the Dale for it. And there are still loads of perfectly good pictures that I have not included :-) and video that I have not even looked at yet

male Hazel Grouse (jerpe) from Saturday

and a video with the sounds of drumming Three-toed Pecker (tretåspett), display Black Grouse (orrfugl) and singing Hazel Grouse (jerpe)

A selection of photos of the Hazel Grouse pair I relocated on Thursday and which are already for guiding

Hazel Grouse (jerpe) - the pair walking away from me with the male guarding the female

and the male keeping an eye on me whilst the female moves off

the pair together again although typically the female is blurry

another typical blurry shot of the female as she ran past

whilst the male stands stills
slightly better of the female

female in focus but running away

getting better

this shot of the female is actually not bad but there is some out of focus vegetation between me and her

male Three-toed Woodpecker (tretåspett) hammering away

the pair together

female hammering away

it is unusual to see them without their tail planet again the tree for support

Three toes often feed at eh base of trees. This female had all her toes intact so was not the famous 1 toe 3 toe

a bark ring in the creation

a flight shot that works! Black-throated Diver (storlom)

Yellowhammer (gulspurv)

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