Sunday 26 November 2023

A surprise in the Dale

 Birds always have the capacity to surprise and that is of course one of the main reasons why I and many others (including I guess everyone who reads this blog) find birding to be an extremely rewarding hobby/obsession.

The last weeks birding was settling into a quite predictable pattern with generally few birds but the occasional encounter with Great grey Shrike, Pygmy Owl or Grey-headed Woodpecker livening things up. On Wednesday I was tempted out of Oslo when strong southerly winds had me sea gazing. The winds weren’t that strong and it is late in the year so I did not have high hopes but did expect to see Little Auk which used to be a regular late autumn guest in Oslo but which has suddenly become difficult to see in the last few year (probably just due to changing weather patterns than a decline in the species). A few Razorbills and Guillemots flew by but nothing smaller although further south good numbers of Little Auks were seen and also 3 Grey Phalaropes so my thoughts were correct but the wind just not strong enough.

But what was the surprise? Well, yesterday I had dropped Jr Jr and a friend off at the ski slopes for their first outing of the winter and then dropped into Maridalen. I always stop first at Hammeren to check out what is on the lake. Ice is starting to form in some of the bays but the main part of the lake is still open not that this means there are many birds. Cormorant, a couple of Goldeneye and the single Common Scoter are all I have been seeing and counting the Cormorants has been the most exciting thing to do. I have had up to 7 resting on a few exposed rocks but as I looked at those rocks yesterday there was only a single bird and it wasn’t a Cormorant but an adult White-tailed Eagle! I quickly got back in the car and drove closer where I saw there were already a couple of people watching it. W-t Eagle has become an annual guest to the Dale but normally a wandering young bird flying over. In the last few years though there have been occasional sightings of an adult both over Maridalen and around the islands in the inner Oslo fjord. This is probably a bird that has settled here and it could even be possible that there is a pair already breeding as they are surprisingly anonymous in the breeding season.

adult White-tailed Eagle (havørn) when I first saw it on the Cormorant rocks

a Cormorant (storskarv) did come into land but thought better of it

I wonder if the two dark patches in the tail will make it possible to individually identify this bird

one of two Pygmy Owls (spurveugle) I have been seeing. The noises that I occasionally hear make me believe this is a male

whereas this bird which is the one I see most often is I am sure a female

an adult male Goshawk (hønsehauk) that was displaying

this is a good winter for Redpolls (gråsisik) with some large flocks that occasionally contain the odd Lesser or Arctic. This Lesser Redpoll (brunsisik) though was on its own in a forest habitat where I was not expecting to find one

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