Friday 19 April 2024

Snow and a Lapland Bunting

This week has continued in the doldrums with very few birds (as is quite typical for mid-April) and the reason was made clear today. Mid-April is still early in the spring and birds know this through thousands of years of evolution and the weather can turn quickly very wintery as it did this morning with 10cm of snow in Maridalen. Whether we will now get a rush of birds or whether they still think it is too early will we find out in the coming days but we should at least get a mini rush tomorrow of returning birds who temporarily fled back south.

The doldrums does not mean no new Oslo birds though and I have had four in four days although Tuesday and Wednesday were blanks. Yesterday gave me some 7 species of raptor in Maridalen and Marsh Harrier #134 and Hen Harrier #135 were new for the year. These species never feel guaranteed although some prolonged sky gazing in mid or late April should produce them. Today I quickly abandoned Maridalen when I saw that the snow had left the fields empty of birds and headed for Østensjøvannet. There was nothing of interest on the lake although the stubble fields held quite a few Meadow Pipits and White Wagtails. I had a hope that this might produce a Lapland Bunting and sure enough it did with me picking up one singing! #136 and then seeing it very well. Biggest surprise though was clearly hearing a Tree Pipit #137. This is by far my earliest record but this year is seeing a lot of early migrants (edit it is not my earliest as I have previously had a bird on the same date which remains the 4th earliest bird documented with a photo in Norway). It would not surprise me if my next new species will be my earliest ever Willow Warbler.

I have paid a couple of visits to Nordre Øyeren in the hope that there would be more to see there which there was although not much more. Bar-tailed Godwit and Little Ringed Plovers on flooded fields were my first in 2024 but water levels are now so high that there are no mudflats exposed.

the field at Nes in Maridalen today

and driving in with Skjerven farm in the middle
male Lapland Bunting (lappspurv) at Østensjøvannet

and when it was singing from a tree

the Greylag Goose (grågås) nest from my last post covered in snow. The water level has also fallen considerably this week

Maridalen's Lapwings (vipe) had problems finding food in the snow

there were not many thrushes to see but here are some Mistles (duetrost)

and a Song Thrush (måltrost)

and a comparison of both species from behind with Mistle having broad white edges to the tertials

one of three Twite (bergirisk) today. The main migration of this species is behind us now

on Thursday three Cranes (trane) flew over and one seemed to have a broken leg. I would have liked to see it on the deck but they did not land

a flock of Curlew (storspove) also arrived

first resting on the edge of the lake

and then feeding in a stubble field

an Adder (hoggorm) 

male Brambling (bjørkefink)

a Marsh Harrier (sivhauk) and Hooded Crow at Årnestangen

Buzzard (musvåk) in Maridalen

this pair of Canada Geese in Maridalen show an marked size difference

a trip to Fornebu produced a Slavonian Grebe (horndykker) and hopefully they will turn up in Maridalen the coming week

A Lapwing nest at Årnestangen which looked to be in an area where it will be safe from farming activities. In Maridalen I think we only have six birds and it looked like they were two on nests on Wednesday but in the snow today I saw none that seemed to be sitting

a simple nest

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