Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Urban Pine Grosbeaks

I am having to fit my birding in around other things at the moment which has made me focus on some more urban areas which I can easily visit when I have some time available. On Monday I went to the sculpture park at Ekeberg for the second time this winter to see if there were any Grozzas there. This area and its plentiful rowan berries proved very popular to Pine Grosbeaks in Nov/Dec 2019 but apart from a single bird I saw on 3 Nov there have been no other reports this winter (although I don’t think many other people are looking). What is cool about this location is that you are on an escarpment with the city below you so can have an interesting backdrop to your views (and pictures) although it is so steep in places that you also have to look down and mind your footing.

On Mondays I did indeed discover Grozzas with a minimum of 21 birds including 5 adult males. One group of 14 contained 4 adult males and such a high ratio suggests to me that these birds may have come from a new wave of birds as I have previously only seen one flock this winter with a comparable ratio of adults. It was of course wonderful to see these birds and as usual they showed at close range. There were also many Fieldfares and a few Redwing in the area (but still no Waxwings) and the thrushes were frequently flying around in a stressful manner so I assume a Sparrowhawk was in the area. When this happened the Grosbeaks would just freeze without making a noise and would keep the same position for a number of minutes before feeding again. They only time they would fly and call was if they were disturbed by a man made noise.

I also saw the Grosbeaks frequently eating snow either on the ground or that they found in the trees.

In addition to all the thrushes, and Redwing in December are rare, there were a good number of other birds including Bramblings, Hawfinch, Goldcrests and Green Woodpecker so it was surprisingly birdy for a cold December day.

First some pictures with the city as the backdrop

the enormously expensive and nearly universally disliked Munch Museum provides the backdrop

Oslo and Norway's two highest building plus the so called Barcode

and just the birds

3 adult males in this shot

eating snow and having a shake

Brambling (bjørkefink)

Fieldfare (gråtrost)

this particular bird had a broken upper mandible that wouldn't close but it didn't stop the bird eating berries

Fieldfare with Pine Grosbeak behind

Green Woodpecker

Redwings (rødvingetrost) are rare in December but the plentiful supply of berries has clearly encouraged a few to stay

Treecreeper (trekryper)

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