Friday, 26 August 2016

Beans r back

Rain might stop me painting the house but gives good wader conditions. Årnestangen this morning was cooking with over 200 Dunlin but I failed to find anything too rare although a supporting cast of Sanderling, Knot, Turnstone, Little Stint and Curlew Sand amongst others gave me lots to work through. A family of Peregrines made a lot of noise and kept putting the waders up. There were three youngsters with their dad. The dad is a tiny bird in comparison to his offspring (who are probably all females) and must be the same bird I saw on Saturday. No harriers of any sort today although I hope to turn up a Pallid this autumn. Little Gull, White-tailed Eagle, Pochard and Pintail were also good birds.

Two of the tagged Bean Geese have been, according to their signals, back in Akershus since the very early date of 14 August. The plots show they checked out the traditional fields before flying to the NW and settling down in a large area of forest which probably resembles their breeding grounds with small vegetation rich pools. The reason for going there is quite simply that in mid-August the fields have not yet been harvested so are unsuitable. A third tagged bird turned round and headed back towards Sweden whilst the fourth (and final) tagged bird stayed in Sweden much longer before heading for Norway this week. After a day in the same area of forest he moved to the traditional area a couple of days ago. I went up there today without any live plots to know exactly where to look but as it was the middle of the day checked out the peat bog which is traditionally used in the middle of the day. The birds saw me before I saw them and started calling. I saw some heads sticking up at least 200 m away and stopped to put up the scope. The birds were very wary though and flew up though and took with them another group (I have noticed before that these birds are far more wary in the autumn than the spring for reasons that I’m not sure about although I have wondered whether they are subject to (illegal) hunting in August. There were exactly 50 birds and they flew around calling looking very unsure as to where to go (suggesting very newly arrived). I took lots of long range pictures which show three neck collars plus a bird with only a metal leg ring. Of the three neck collars one was a GPS collar and this bird had a green leg ring showing him to be the same tagged bird (10) that had recently moved to the area. The flock should build up over the next week or so and the harvest has just begun in the area so stubble fields will soon be available.
A real surprise was a Woodlark which flew up in front of and perched really well but vanished into thin air whilst I took my camera out of the bag.

The final good bird of the day was a roadside adult Hobby that was chasing Crows. I'm not sure if this was for the fun of it or whether there were young Hobbies nearby but he eventually drifted off.

The taiga Bean Geese (sædgås) at long range (uncropped with 500mm) just before they flew up. Note the bird with a completely orange bill. I have noted this or a similar bird in the flock before and it has on at least one occasion been mistakenly reported as a Greylag

the two groups joined up and flew around calling loudly and seemingly unsure as to what there next move should be. I make it exactly 50 birds

more experienced eyes than mine might be able to age the birds from this shot showing upperwings?

the three neck collared birds. The right hand bird has a GPS collar and a green leg ring showing him to be 10. The two other birds have enscribed neck collars but my pictures do not allow them to be read. I believe the birds to be a pair

here it is just possible to see "10" on the collar of the upper bird plus the green leg ring. The other bird has a metal leg ring but has lost its neck collar

adult Hobby (lerkefalk)

montage of it chasing a Crow

and another montage

briefly landing
the waders at Årnestangen were frequently in the air because of...

..a family of Peregrines including this youngster which still had a lot to learn

Dunlin (myrsnipe), Little Stint (dvergsnipe) and Sanderling (sandløper)

At least 500 Cormorants are clearly finding lots of fish at Årnestangen

and keep heading off in squadrons when they feel the need for food

Thursday, 25 August 2016

OSLO waders

I couldn't resist following up on yesterday's good waders on Gressholmen so took the boat out this morning. I visited Gressholmen and Nakkholmen and also had views over Lindøya and Galteskjær so had control over the most likely sites.

Waders don't often hang around on the islands but with it being overcast last night and low cloud and drizzle this morning I had high hopes. In addition to yesterday's Little Stints and Knot I entertained the idea of Turnstone and Sanderling also turning up. It was quite exciting getting to the bay at Gressholmen but the excitement soon turned to disappointment with just 4 Greenshank, 1 Redshank, 3 Common Sands, 5 Ringed Plover and 2 Dunlin present. Three herons and an Osprey perched in trees were a little exotic. Gressholmen does have more wader habitat than just the large bay and an offshore rock held another 4 Dunlin and 3 Knot. YES, happy boy - my 215th Oslo species!

Passerines were for some reason very scarce with no chats or the like.

Taking the boat to Nakkholmen I saw there were some waders roosting on a rock just offshore and soon found myself looking at another 7 Knot and 2 Dunlin. Just as I was getting some good pics a canoeist appeared and went right up to them and spooked them – the smile he had from a close encounter of the natural kind quickly vanished when he noticed me and my camera and he paddled off embarrassed. They flew over to nearby Galteskjær where there were also 3 Ringed Plover.

A rock off Lindøya held another 7 Ringed Plover and 3 Dunlin and nearly two hours later (after having missed the boat) another 2 Knot were on the rock which had earlier held 7 whilst the 7 were still on Galteskjær but had now increased to 9!! So an absolute minimum of 11 (seen together) but the 3 on Gressholmen may have been additional and the 7 and 9 were not necessarily the same. But even the minimum number of 11 meant that I had seen nearly as many individual Knots as had EVER previously been recorded in Oslo!!!

Nakkholmen held a few more passerines including 4 species of warbler but nothing too dramatic.

The two Knot (polarsnipe) that I saw on Nakkholmen. All the Knot I saw today were juveniles

7 Knot and 2 Dunlin (myrsnipe) on the same rock on Nakkholmen nearly 2 hours earlier

still lots of flowers

the birds suddenly took flight and I thought it was this fisherman but it turned out to be a canoeist who paddled between me and the birds

My very first Oslo Knot at Gressholmen here with a couple of Dunlin

the last Knot of the day - 9 birds on Galteskjær
Galteskjær as seen from Nakkholmen with Oslo and a large cruise ship in the background. This rock also held 3 Ringed Plover, a Dunlin and is a breeding site fr Lesser Blac-backed Gulls. The Cormorant you see do not yet breed in the Oslo area but it is probably just a matter of time

an obliging Greenshank (gluttsnipe)

Greenshank and Redshank (rødstilk)

4 adult and a juv Ringed Plover (sandlo) and 2 juv Dunlin

a juv Shelduck (gravand) with 3 Eider
not often I try to take pictures of Hooded Crow (kråke) but this one sat obligingly

I think he was trying to tell me something

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

You give me fever

An 8 year-old with a fever has kept me away from birding (and planned decorating) the past two days but when the fever disappeared this morning we were able to make a short trip to Fornebu in the afternoon where JrJr got to chase Pokemons and daddy chased a couple of birds.

A seemingly one-legged Red-backed Shrike showed well and a few waders included a long staying juvenile Knot. Also two Slav Grebes which have been around a week or so. There is some disagreement as to the age of these birds, one is definitely a youngster but the other has been reported as both adult and also youngster. I’m not sure….

I was out at Årnestangen yesterday evening and had fewer waders than on Saturday although 9 Turnstone was a good count. Today though there seems to have been an arrival of waders in the Oslo area as a lucky Rune Clausen had both Little Stint and Knot on Gressholmen which are both species missing from my Oslo list plus double figures of Dunlin (a species that graced my Oslo list for the first time last year).
Red-backed Shrike (tornskate)
2 Spotted Flycatchers (gråfluesnapper)
the two Slav Grebes (horndykker). The stripy head of the bird on the right shows it to moulting out of juvenile plumage, he bird on the left though is trickier

Monday, 22 August 2016


Each August Nutcrackers descend on Oslo from the surrounding forests (where they are very anonymous in the breeding season) in the search of easy food and hazel nuts are much sought after. We have a few hazel trees in the garden which always attract Nutcrackers although they can be very secretive. This evening there were two birds and one allowed itself to be photographed.
note the hazel nut in the claws
and here trying to open it

a quick trip into Maridalen didn't reveal any better views of the Whooper Swan family....

Saturday, 20 August 2016


I had a plan for this weekend. Based on the weather forecast (never a good idea) I was going to “do” Fornebu before breakfast on Saturday and Årnestangen on Sunday. This was because Saturday morning was supposed to be dry whereas rain was forecast very early on Sunday morning. When I awoke at 6am I could see it was wet and overcast outside and a check of the weather forecast (for what it’s worth) showed rain was no longer forecast for Sunday morning. I therefore changed my plans and headed off to Årnestangen. Arriving just before 7am I was surprised to see no other cars and a 15-minute bike ride later I was alone on the observation platform with good light and no wind. AND BIRDS.
Unlike a visit a week ago when there was hardly a thing to see there was now loads and it was one of those days when you don’t know where to look because you are afraid of missing something or just when you get to grips with a wader flock a raptor puts them up and you have to start again.

Highlights were a single Broad-billed Sandpiper, 16 Curlew Sands, 35 Little Stints, 2 Knot, 2 Turnstone, 2 Little Gulls, 1 Shoveler, 51 Pochard, 4+ Marsh Harriers, 2 Peregrine and 2 White-tailed Eagles. Compared to end July/beginning of August there are far fewer waders species (although total numbers are high) and I only had 12 species with a single Wood Sandpiper the only tringa and juveniles are now dominant.

waders do not come close at Årnestangen but at one stage the Broad-billed Sandpiper (fjellmyrløper)was one of the closest birds (everything is relative) allowing a picture that just about classifies as a record shot. Here together with 2 Little Stints (dvergsnipe) and a Curlew Sandpiper (tundrasnipe)

the best crop I managed

Three Curlew Sands and a Dunlin (myrsnipe)

a calidris collection. Mountain Marsh Runner, Dunlin, Little Stint and Curlew Sand

Little Gull (dvergmåke)

I saw three juvenile Marsh Harriers (sivhauk) together but there may have been more. This one showed well from the observation platform

this is an older female Marsh Harrier (maybe a 2cy) and was being chased off by a Little Gull

a large 1cy female Peregrine (vandrefalk) being chased off by Common Terns (makrellterne)

Two Peregrines together. The large 1cy female and a noticeably smaller male. The Light was bad (as you see) and it was difficult to see plumage tones but I think it was an adult male (dad) with his daughter

Lots of Teal (krikkand) but a single Shoveler (skjeand) was the only scarce duck I could find

Yesterday on a strictly no birding trip in Maridalen with the girls I was very surprised (shocked) to see, whilst trying to get close to some horses) that the Whooper Swan pair which I hadn’t seen since 17 April and had assumed had moved off had actually bred and had 7 large young! They were in the same place as I saw them in April (and where they bred last year) but had clearly not bred on the small (and visible) pool they used last year but in the adjoining flooded woodland where they quickly disappeared. Isn’t it amazing that such a large and obvious species can hide away - what else don’t I see?

some swans amongst the trees

can just make out one of the juveniles
this is where they have been hiding since April - amazing!

this Red-backed Shrike (tornskate) didn't mind the girls getting close

a Camberwell Beauty (sørgekåpe)