Friday, September 10, 2010

1.08.10 - 08.09.10

Five weeks in a country of mountains, fjords, huge forests, lakes and waterfalls. A country that should be thoroughly explored. As last year, however this was limited due to visits to family and friends. Still some birding experiences were to be had and stand out...scarce ducks on a desolate mountain lake, snow buntings on a rugged mountain top, waders, ducks and geese against a backdrop of small islets on a quite summer evening.



Yet another year we visited this nature reserve quite close to the city, a peninsula in the Oslofjord. We were lucky, low tide meant quite a few waders feeding in the muddy inlets. Not less than 8 Greenshanks and 24 lapwings made up the bulk. 2 Green sandpipers coming in as the sun cast its last rays over the peaceful landscape, a Redshank, Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpipers and kings of them all two Oystercatchers.
Further out flocks of 40+ Greylag geese, 30+ Barnacle Geese, 40+ Eiders, 25+ Eiders, 15+ Red-breasted mergansers and a family of eight Shelducks. The latter we had never seen in Norway. 4 Common Terns filled the bay with their flight acrobatics.
The best of the passerines were two Red-backed shrike juveniles eyeing passer byes from the trees, 3 newly fledged Whitethroats, 2 Yellowhammers and about 20 Goldfinches.

Common Terns

Oystercatcher, as it flew up from feeding in the bay.

Part of the flock of Barnacle Geese which breed in the Oslofjord

Greenshank, still not quite aware of our presence


Visting family close to one of the largest lakes in Norway – Tyrifjorden, gave some good species. 2 Ospreys, one with prey, were seen while enjoying a barbeque as well as 3 Common Buzzards and 2 Sparrowhawks. 2 Green Woodpeckers called from the woods above. A further exploration here produced Treecreepers, Goldcrests (one newly fledged), Treepipits, 2 Greater Spotted Woodpeckers and one of the rarer species seen – 2 Mistle Thrushes. First localised by their call recognised from Stockholm last year, they were seen a short while in the pine tops. On the lake there were a few Coots and a pair of Great crested

Other Species of note seen in Oslo

Wood Warbler – another first for my Norwegian List found in an Oak copse at Bogstad.
Spotted Nutcracker- seen twice (2.08 and 7.09) flying over the city as they fly back to the forest after feeding in parks.
Bullfinch- a short stroll on the edge of Nordmarka a large stretch of forest north for the capital on 7.09 gave the results I had hoped for...3 Bullfinches, a lifer for me. The one seen more than just in flight was a young male so the best of the species has to offer is still to be seen.

Up to the mountains

From 7.08 to 4.09 was spent at a family cabin 230 km northwest from Oslo, (between Vaset and Hemsedal in Valdres.) The first evening produced a a lifer, a bit unexpected and a good one at that. It was flushed from a quite flooded area of a field below the cabin. Its usually a good place for Common Snipes but this one flushed all too close, no distinct white trailing edge, white bands on wing were seen so yep Great Snipe! Flushed it a second time next morning when a more “croaking” sound was given instead of the normal Snipe call.

We did a 3 day tour down to Sognefjord, the longest fjord in Norway, to which I managed to add some birding. I had hoped to get White-backed Woodpecker in an old forest at Fodnes described but it was not to be.

The view of Sognefjord as we looked for the White-backed Woodpecker

Dismay mounted a bit though when we failed yet another target species at the first possible location. The lake (Nedre Sjodalen in Vågå county) only produced 20+ teals, 8 Tufted Ducks and 7 Goosanders.

But there was still one little chance. A group of small lakes and pools a 1500 meters above sea level called Fisketjerni on the Valdresflya. There was nothing on the first lakes we checked and we started to think that this time to we would be unlucky. But no, on the last lake we came to there was a group of ducks. In between Tufted ducks and Goldeneyes we picked out 6 Long-tailed ducks and with some more difficulty a juvenile Scaup. Two more lifers in the bag. What’s more waders around the lakes included 3 summer plumaged Golden Plovers, a Dunlin and 3 Ruffs.

Record shot of a male Long-tailed Duck, one of two lifers we got at Fisketjerni.

An awfully bad digiscoped shot of the juvenile Scaup.


Back to our cabin in Valdres...

As other years there was quite a lot of activity on the lake, Storfjorden, nearby. One or two family parties of Goosanders and Red-breasted mergansers were always about. The best of course were these though, Black- throated loon. This was the largest flock we ever saw, usually they were present in singles or pairs, once with two juveniles and another pair with pullus.

Climbing up mountains is not only about the view, its about the high altitude birds. Which is the bonus the birds, the view or the pleasure of having got up another mountain is another question. This Rock Ptarmigan was the only one seen unfortunately but showed well as it ran in between the rocks. Golden eagles were also seen on a few occasions mostly adults but also one subadult. Ring Ouzel was another good species we saw. A total of 3 flushed from some bushes just before the bare mountain zone. The cherry on the cake were or rather 6 cherries were Snow Buntings at 1731 m over sea level. Not only were they lifers but seeing them was an experience I will remember. It had snowed during the night so the landscape was whiter than usual, as we came to the top the north wind hit us full force, it wasn't more than 2 degrees Celsius and I as tried to take photos my hands were so numb I barely felt the camera buttons but, still there they were in this barren inhospitable seemingly lifeless place.

Willow Ptarmigans are quite common with up to flocks of 7. These, 2 of 4, stayed a bit longer than usual just enough for a shot.

No one grumbles when they see Cranes! Two pairs about in the area seen feeding on marshes or only heard on quite evenings. This year one pair was observed with two juveniles.

I think this was the year Merlins were most abundant, seen hunting frequently on flocks of Fieldfares, Redwings and finches. On the first few days three juveniles together with their parents were seen together a few days in the same area before they dispersed.

I was thinking that we wouldn't manage to see this fantastic species, probably the best up there, this year. It wasn't a rodent year so the chances that they bred were minimal and so finding them was less likely. But on the last morning, the last walk before busy cities and towns were reality again, there it was a Hawk owl!

White Wagtail, plentiful to the end

The Raven is quite common and well yes majestic bird in its all black suit.

A Great grey Shrike spent two days nearby but wasn't to keen on being photographed so a digiscoped pic had to do.

A newly fledged and totally innocent Brambling unaware of any dangers...Together with Bramblings, Redpolls, Siskins and Greenfinches were plentiful too.

To conclude, one cannot but mention two Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers just below the cabin, a lifer for my sister and which were a consolation to my poor woodpecker list which lacked Three-toed and Black woodpecker this time.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

List of birds seen

Black-throated Diver
Great Crested Grebe
Great Cormorant
Grey Heron
Mute Swan
Greylag Goose
Canada Goose
Barnacle Goose
Common Shelduck
Common Teal
Tufted Duck
Common Eider
Long-tailed Duck
Common Goldeneye
Red-breasted Merganser
Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Golden Eagle
Common Kestrel
Willow Ptarmigan
Rock Ptarmigan
Common Crane
Eurasian Oystercatcher
Ringed Plover
Golden Plover
Northern Lapwing
Common Snipe
Great Snipe
Green Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Black-headed Gull
Common Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Greater Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Common Tern
Stock Dove
Wood Pigeon
Collared Dove
Hawk Owl
Common Swift
Green Woodpecker
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Sky Lark
Sand Martin
House Martin
Barn Swallow
Tree Pipit
Meadow Pipit
Yellow wagtail
White Wagtail
White-throated Dipper
Northern Wheatear
Ring Ouzel
Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Lesser Whitethroat
Common Whitethroat
Wood Warbler
Willow Warbler
Spotted Flycatcher
Pied Flycatcher
Willow tit
Coal Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Wood Nuthatch
Red-backed Shrike
Great Grey Shrike
Eurasian Jay
Black-billed Magpie
Spotted Nutcracker
Hooded Crow
House Sparrow
Tree Sparrow

Common Crossbill
Snow Bunting
Reed Bunting

A total of 112 species were recorded

Lifers are in blue