Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 - the year that was part II

July is holiday time. This year we didn't have our usual week in Beitostølen so I missed repeated visits to lekking Great Snipe (although had got my fill whilst guiding earlier in the year) but I did pop in on my drive back from the north of Norway to see the male Pallid Harriers that had summered there.

this adult Little Gull (dvergmåke) showed very well on a mountain lake near Røros on our drive north

The Asian (stejneger's) White-winged Scoter (knoppsjøorre) near Bodø for it's third summer

male Pallid Harrier (steppehauk)

August is a good month for guiding around Oslo with wader passage in full swing, raptors up in the air and passerine migration starting up

this juvenile Arctic Tern (rødnebbterne) was a real surprise in Maridalen at the beginning of the month

this spot turned out to be a Red Kite (glente) and was a real surprise in Maridalen

juvenile Red-backed Shrikes are always a delight in August

the breeding male Black Redstart was looking very grotty when moulting in August

Honey Buzzards (vepsevåk) proved hard to find in 2017 but this male showed well

Cuckoos are also becoming scarce so it was nice to see this juv in Maridalen

and a photogenic Common Buzzard (musvåk)

September is about my annual visit to Værøy but there is still a bit to be found around Oslo with seawatching sometimes giving results. Highlight for me on Værøy this year was a Siberian Thrush with a good supporting cast of Siberian Stonechat, Savi's Warbler, Olive-backed Pipit, Little Bunting and of course Yellow-browed Warbler which on its own would make the trip worthwhile. Seawatching in the Oslofjord was quite good this year and I racked up Manx Shearwater, Sandwich Tern, Great Skua and record numbers of Gannets.

I paid my first ever visit to Lista where this Citrine Wagtail (sitronerle) was the highlight

a self found Black Tern (svartterne) at Svellet was also a Norwegian tick

every September I spend some time with the Taiga Bean Geese on their migration from Sweden to Scotland. Breeding success seems to have been very poor this year

an usually cooperative Water Rail (vannriske) although it never came fully out of the reeds 
Maridalen's Whooper Swan family. 8 eggs hatched but one youngster died young and then another youngster disappeared after this photo

Olive-backed Pipit (sibirpiplerke) on Værøy

Jack Snipe (kvartbekkasin) on Værøy

and of course Yellow-browed Warbler (gulbrynsanger)

the highlight of the trip - Siberian Thrush

of course it deserved a selfie

Siberian Stonechat 

October can be a quiet month around Oslo but southerly storms can always bring some seabirds into the fjord. Those storms didn't materialise this year but Maridalen came up with the goods when I found Oslo's first Great White Egret whilst on a mushroom picking trip with Mrs OB and Fornebu despite the continued development that is going on had some decent birds.

Great White Egret (egrethegre) and Grey Heron (gråhegre)

Siberian (tristis) Chiffchaff

and if I had revisited Værøy with Kjell and Geir then maybe I would have seen this - Mugimaki Flycatcher

it's difficult to get tired of Bearded Tits

or Snow Buntings

November sees the onset of winter so it is the more special over wintering birds that become my priority. Fornebu saw lots of visits in the never ending search for an even better Bearded Tit photo and Maridalen had a couple of photogenic Pygmy Owls. Trips into the forest revealed little (unlike last year) except for one very onfiding Three-toed Woodpecker.

Woodlark at Fornebu was definitely rare

but Three-toed Woodpeckers are just difficult to find

Pygmy Owl - a minature killing machine

more beards

Golfinches (stillits) - not rare but still nice

December should be the least exciting month but one bird ensured that the birding excitement continued until the year end. I paid regular visits to Fornebu from October to December and had a hope of finding something with stripes. Yellow-browed or Pallas's Warbler were at the top of my mind at the start of the period but after the middle of November I was thinking of Firecrest especially as a record 7 were seen together in SW Norway. On 6 December my stripes materialised - Akershus's first record of Firecrest!

Firecrest (rødtoppfuglekonge)

and a Treecreeper - common but not often you see them so close

Friday, 29 December 2017

2017 - the year that was Part I

2017 goes down in the annals of the OsloBirder as my most successful year (although hopefully only to date). I saw some great birds, most of them were self-found and a lot were found whist guiding.
Highlights of the self-found were: Greenish Warbler, Firecrest, Caspian Tern, Asian White-winged Scoter (returning bird that I found in 2015), Black Tern, Pallid Harrier, Red Kite, Olive-backed Pipit and Caspian Gull.

In addition, seeing Siberian Thrush and Siberian Accentor for the first time and having repeated and close encounters with Great Grey Owls, Red-breasted Flycatchers and 2 male Pallid Harriers helped make 2017 a truly memorable year.

January saw me visiting rubbish dumps in search of gulls plus bumping into the odd Hawkie and Kingfisher

Glaucous Gull (polarmåke) on a dump in Østfold 
A Caspian Gull (or perhaps a hybrid) at the same dump

February saw Glaucous and Iceland Gulls in nice (i.e non dump) localities in Oslo plus quite a few Hawkies to choose between. Nightime owling trips also revealed Tengmalm's and Great Grey Owls

Iceland Gull (grønnlandsmåke) in Oslo

Glaucous Gull in Oslo

Hawk Owl in the forests north of Oslo

Tengmalm's Owl (perleugle) in the forests of Akershus

March is always an exciting month with the first spring migrants appearing and this year I also enojoyed a 5 second view of the undoubted European rarity of 2016 - Siberian Accentor

Siberian Accentor (sibirjernspurv) which showed for me for 5 seconds and allowed one over exposed picture.. 
my first Brent Goose (ringgås) in Oslo was a lot more photogenic

Snow Buntings passed through Maridalen in good numbers

although Twite (bergirisk) are becoming scarcer

breeding Tawny Owls (kattugle) provided lots of entertainment

April sees many more migrants appearing although is often an irritating month as the first migrants have already arrived at the end of March and then can be few new species before the big surge of insect eaters comes in May,
a male Pied Wagtail (rather than White) is a rare sight around Oslo

April is good for migrating raptors and Marsh Harrier (sivhauk) is a species increasing in numbers

May is always the best month with the last migrants appearing and exciting breeding species revealing themselves. 2017 also saw a return to wintery weather on 10 and 11 May which caused a huge grounding of migrants around Oslo

May 11 was a very special day in Maridalen. Snow and many birds. Here a male Lapland Bunting (lappspurv)

and male Bluethroat (blåstrupe)

and Slavonian Grebe (horndykker)

and migrating Greenshanks (gluttnsnipe)

The good birds continued later in May including my first Norwegian Caspian Tern (rovterne) 
this gorgeous male Scaup (bergand) showed well in Maridalen

Common Rosefinch (rosenfink) is a late arriving migrant but one that makes your day

2017 was a record year for breeding Great Grey Owls (lappugle)

I found breeding Grey-headed Woodpecker (gråspett) for the first time

and Ortolans (hortulan) seem to be holding on at their last remaining sites

Oslo's first ever Firecrest (rødtoppfuglekonge) was a singing male that stayed around for only a few days

but this unpaired Greenish Warbler (østsanger) which I found whilst guiding for Hazel Grouse hung around for weeks to the delight of many

not often that one gets to see (rather than hear) Corncrake (åkerrikse)

Norway's only known singing Rustic Bunting (vierspurv) was unpaired and may wellbe the last singing of bird of a species that is in global decline

this female Red-necked Phalarope (svømmesnipe) laid an egg in front of me
young Hawk Owl

June is about getting to grips with all the exciting breeding birds that southern Norway has to offer with trips to the mountains in Oppland and the deep forests of Hedmark

Black Redstarts sing in Oslo every year but this year they also bred

the first time I have found a juvenile Hawfinch (kjernebiter)

young Great Grey Owl

and a watchful parent

Hobby (lerkefalk) in Maridalen
2017 was in many ways the year of the Red-breasted Flycatcher in Oslo and this is the adult male who had a very complicated family life in Maridalen