Sunday, 27 November 2022

Hoping for owls

Despite xmas decorations being up in shopping centres and my inbox full of black Friday/week “super” offers there is still over a month of 2022 left and the chance of some good birding remains. There are definite signs that a small invasion of the larger owls is brewing. Reports are that this winter is a cyclical low winter for rodents in areas of Hedmark and after a good breeding year for owls in the same areas there are a good number of owls that now need to move out to find food.

After the Oslo Ural Owl it has now emerged one was seen much further away from the breeding areas in Telemark (west side of Oslo fjord) and there are now a few reports of Great Grey Owls in the south east including one on an island in the Oslo fjord and most excitingly one videoed on a mobile phone in Maridalen last weekend! A Hawk Owl has also turned up close to Oslo feeding from roadside wires which is a sure sign of food shortages in the normal areas. In the fantastic winter of 2019/2020 the first Great Grey Owl was not found in Maridalen until 15 December and Hawk Owls were not found until mid January so there is still every chance that this winter could be an Oslo owl winter.

Whilst I wait for this happen (and of course search for them) then Maridalen has had some surprises despite the depressingly dark and damp weather. Last week ended with both Great Crested Grebe and Red-throated Diver on the lake. The diver is the latest ever record there and there have only been a couple of later records of the grebe. The Whooper Swans and Greylag are also hanging on although the Greylag possibly fell victim to a Goshawk (see pictures).

I spotted the Goshawk at a range of around 2km and was unsure whether it was a Goshawk or a large falcon

but it hung around long enough for me to get close and revealed itself to be a large (female) adult Goshawk (hønsehauk). I think it is a gull it is eating but there are a lot of white downy feathers and this is where I last saw the Greylag earlier in the day

a couple of late Common Scoters (svartand) were also noteworthy

the Great Grey Shrike (varsler) is also still present and wandering widely

Maridalen's latest ever Red-throated Diver (smålom)

the forest has been quiet but an encounter with a Three-toed Woodpecker (tretåspett) always makes it worthwhile


  1. Could a goshawk take a greylag?

  2. Probably not no. I was thinking that Goshawk had got its name from Goose hawk but I think that is nonsense and BWP does not mention geese as being a prey item.