Thursday, 23 November 2017

13 degrees temperature change

Yesterday we had a lot of snow and -6C and everything turned white and very wintery. Today we had rain and +7C which made everything very icy and slippery. There was also a lot of wind today which I had not noticed on the weather forecast. It was only when I walked outside that I realised how strong it was and it was coming right from the south – ie good for sea gazing.

I chose not to go down to Krokstrand but instead went to Fornebu where I was able to find a viewing spot out of the wind. Initially there was not really anything to see but after 45 minutes a flock of 8 Long-tailed Ducks including 5 adult males flew past. Then a few auks went past and Common and Velvet Scoters. There were very few gulls, but I grilled everyone and a nice adult Little Gull went past and then a Puffin! Not bad at all J

At noon after an hour and 45 minutes my teeth were chattering so much that I had to retreat to the car and turn the heating on max. I drove to another site where I could view from the car and had two Kittiwakes going past. The wind was if anything blowing stronger now so there was a chance that new birds would turn up but I was so cold to the core that I had to throw in the towel. This time of the year is good for a Leaches Petrel to turn up and that was my hope for the day once I realised how strong the wind was but I’ll have to keep waiting to see that species in Norway.

Yesterday in the snow I visited the Botanical Gardens in Norway. Despite there still being a lot of berries on some of the trees there were few birds (no Waxwings for example and only 1 Hawfinch) but there were 4 Nutcrackers feeding on cones from the same Weymouth Pine which also hosted three Common Crossbills. It was very interesting to see how one single tree could be so important but remined me of how the single larch right next to this pine has in previous winters held numbers of Two-barred Crossbill, Goldfinch, Siskin and various tits which seemed to spend their whole day just feeding on the cones of this one single tree.

In Maridalen I noted some interesting behaviour from two Great Spotted Woodpeckers in response to playing the song of Pygmy Owl which can be seen in one of the videos.

Nutcracker (nøttekråke) extracting the seeds from a Weymouth Pine cone

8 Long-tailed Ducks (havelle) an unsual sight off Fornebu

and even more unusual that there were 5 adult males - normally it is young birds we see

Wednesday, 22 November 2017


I was so desperate for something new and exciting that I visited just about every birding locality in Oslo except for Bygdøy yesterday. I even paid a very fleeting visit to the rubbish dump for gulls (always a sign of desperation for me). What I should have done though was stay loyal to Maridalen where a keen pair of eyes spotted an overflying Long-eared Owl which then fought with a Sparrowhawk. This is a late record of a species that isn't even on my Oslo list and just goes to prove that birding can always produce surprises.

My two visits into Maridalen produced nothing more exciting than a Nutcracker. The dump held only Herring Gulls and Østensjøvannet had just the regular female Pintail alongside a couple of hundred Mallards and 8Coot.

Fornebu did give very good views of 6 Bearded Tits and a couple of calling Water Rails but that is to be expected at the moment.

Perhaps the best birding of the day was at Frognerpark. Here an amazing 9 Herons were roosting in a tree at head height very close to a path. This species only started being seen regularly in the park a couple of winters ago so to see 9 birds that have clearly got used to humans was quite a sight. 12 Teal is also a good count for a species that has also only recently started to spend the winter here and the (ringed) male Wigeon that arrived as a young bird last winter has also returned in full adult plumage. A Moorhen was unexpected as were a pair of Mute Swans (again a species that you wouldn't see here two years ago but which now breeds).

It is snowing today but tomorrow it will all turn to rain...

one of 9 Grey Herons in Frognerpark. With a bit of time one cold get amazing pictures here although there were rather a lot of branches in the way

a late Moorhen (sivhøne) which may well try to spend the winter

6 of the 12 Teal including the only 2 males

adult male Wigeon (brunnakke)

and the obligatory Bearded Tit shots

the male pictured above was one of a pair in Holtekilen that showed well whereas this female was one of two pairs in Storøykilen that spent most of their time silently feeding on the floor of the reedbed

Monday, 20 November 2017

No change

It really is quiet at the moment on the bird front. Summer migrants have all left but there are very few exciting winter birds around. The Pygmy Owls in Maridalen don’t seem to be around anymore with a bird I saw early on Saturday morning the last sighting.

There have been some reports of large flocks of Pine Grosbeaks and Waxwings in the north of the country over the last few days so there is a chance that both these species will filter down to Oslo.

At Fornebu there are still Bearded Tits in two of the reedbeds but they are hard to find. A Chiffchaff called once with a call reminiscent of a tristis but I never saw or heard the birds again.

a sleepy Pygmy Owl (spurveugle)


lots of Redpolls (gråsisik) around but can't find any northern white clinal ones among them

male Beardie


this large female Sparrowhawk (spurvehauk) had a bit of the Goshawk about her

Friday, 17 November 2017

London buses

You wait a year and then two arrive. On Thursday I discovered there are two Pygmy Owls in Maridalen and they have adjoining winter territories which bodes well for further sightings and perhaps a chance of breeding next year? Saying that though I am unsure of the sex of the birds. One has called but not sang a few times which I take to be a sign it is a female whilst the other bird gave the species autumn song a couple of times which I assumed would mean it is a male but upon reading up I see that both sexes apparently give the autumn song. At one point after I had used playback both birds were in the same tree and the presumed female (whose area we were in) chased off the other bird (which had flown a few hundred metres to be there) which then returned to its own territory but there was no big confrontation between the birds.

Today I spent some very quality time with the presumed female and even took my tripod with me so have taken some film of better quality than my usual offerings ;-) The other bird sang a couple of times from its territory but did not show.

Pictures and video from today (Friday)

I had the bird so close but in the shade that I was able to use the flash on the superzoom 

in sunlight with the bazooka

searching for mice

interested in tits - Blue ones that is

Pictures and video from Thursday

Maridalen Thursday morning

the presumed female in the same area as the bird I saw on Monday and Tuesday

same bird

and the possible male in same area as Wednesdays sighting

same bird

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Monday plus

Yesterday was in many ways a repetition of Monday except that the pictures of Pygmy Owl were not so good this time (bird sat too high) and the pictures of Bearded Tits were in my unbiased view absolutely fabulous.
The light was again fantastic in Maridalen with fog, snow and sun creating lots of possibilities for exciting photos.

At Fornebu I had different groups of four Beardies in Storøykilen and Holtekilen but surprisingly had none in Koksa which is normally the preferred reedbed.

Maridalen failed to give me a repeat of the Pine Grosbeaks but the Whooper Swan family showed well although appeared restless and will probably soon move south for the winter.

male Bearded Tit (skjeggmeis). Taking pictures of moving birds in reeds in varying light and with a broken optical stabilisor is a bit challenging but if you hold your finger on the shutter button long enough then you get some acceptable results!

this one came out unusually sharp

they say that if the eye is on focus then the picture works...

the above pictures were taken in Holtekilen where the birds were feeding high up in the reeds. In Storøykilen however they were feeding on the ground at the base of the reeds

Bullfinches (dompap) have suddenly arrived in numbers in Maridalen

Goldfinch (stillits)

a young Goosander (laksand)

Grey Heron (hegre)

the small size of Pygmy Owl (spurveugle) is clear in comparison to a Yellowhammer (gulspurv)

I've never noticed this before but Pygmy Owls have little ears/tufts

Water Rail (vannrikse) tracks
The remaining members of the Whooper Swan (sangsvane) family in Maridalen

Cormorants in the Mist - could be a new Norwegian film


this was how it looked at 09:10 and that is the sun through mist and not the moon

slightly underexposed at 10:00

the reedbed at Storøykilen