Friday 16 February 2024

February Guiding

The last three days I have been guiding brothers Richard and Charles Tyler from GB and we have had some great birding and photography and I was exhausted by the end of it. The purpose of their trip to Oslo was solely to get good photos of “my” Hazel Grouse with anything else a bonus after the target bird was bagged. So, no pressure then…

Giving it three days was a wise move as weather at this time of the year can vary a lot and of course birds being birds then they may not play ball. I feel I know my boy well enough that I can find him with enough time but when the snow away from the ski tracks is thigh deep then one is very restricted on where within his territory one can walk. On day 1 which had the best weather (sunshine) of the trip but we called it quits after 4 hours and 11,000 steps walking back and forth along the ski track without being able to locate him. Day 2 though was thankfully a completely different story with us locating him less than 5 minutes after arriving and then watching him for two hours as he rested in a spruce, preened and then clambered around in an alder tree eating catkins. Relief and joy were palpable!

On day 1 after giving up on the grouse we had good views of Pygmy Owl  which we saw again on day 2. We also had amazing views of Bearded Tit, Hawfinch, Dipper, Great Grey Shrike and all 3 Redpoll species plus Waxwings and Nutcracker. Not everything I had wished to show played ball though with woodpeckers being happier to call or fly over rather than perch at close range and for inexplicable reasons Crested and Willow Tits were only heard calling and didn’t visit feeders.

Bird of the 3 days for me though was a Rook which rather amused Richard and Charles but this is a species I see less than annually in Oslo and then on passage rather than as in this case hanging out with a gang of urban Hooded Crows.

Here are some (ok, too many...) of my pictures but much, much better ones will surely appear on Richard’s website soon.

male Hazel Grouse (jerpe) eyeing up an alder catkin


after hearing the Hazel Grouse singing I used the thermal imager to find it perched in a spruce. This time it stood out like a sore thumb unlike in November when I cold hardly locate it in the imager when it was on the ground only metres from me

and Pygmy Owl (spurveugle)

a Magpie (skjære) flew over prompting the outstretched pose

male Bearded Tit (skjeggmeis)


3 males and a female. The flock consists of 3 males and 8 females

Dipper (fossekall) with food

I don't know whether the white eyelids have any purpose but they are noticeable

a male Hawfinch (kjernebiter), one of 9 that were in trees close to a feeder

the feeder was homemade from a plastic bottle and was hanging outside the first floor window of a house filled with sunflower seed hearts and drew in large numbers of finches in a way I have witnessed before especially the Hawfinches which I normally see on the ground under feeders

Hawfinch with a Common Redpoll (gråsisik) - note the size difference

and a Lesser Redpoll (brunsisik) with a Hawfinch

and with the company of another Common Redpoll

Hawfinch, Greenfinch (grønnfink) and a redpoll sp (I am unsure whether it was one of the Arctic we saw or a Common)

this picture has all three Redpoll (sub)species with a Lesser on the left, Arctic in the middle and Common on the right

Arctic Redpoll (polarsisik). I am unsure whether there was more than one bird in the flock but this bird at least was very distinctive. Note the white rump, white undertail coverts, broad white wing bar and general frosty appearance

the same individual

and the same bird again

this is the same Arctic on the left with a Common Redpoll

a very brown Lesser Redpoll (brunsisik)

Lesser and Common Redpoll - when they are like this it is easy to tell them apart

the Arctic coming in from the left with 2 Common

here the all white undertail coverts of the Arctic are clearly visible

part of a flock of 60 Waxwings (sidensvans) that played cat and mouse with us and didn't let themselves be viewed well

my star bird - a Rook (kornkråke)

it was even calling at times

Charles and Richard

Some shots and video footage taken with the phone:

photographing a roadside Pygmy Owl

Bearded Tit reedbed

and photographing them

not seeing woodpeckers in the forest

spot the Dipper?

braving the snow for Hazel Grouse

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