Saturday, December 30, 2023

Oslo and Hamar 22-27 December 2023 - Christmas in the east

Another period of no birding although I was out for an hour or so with both binoculars and camera on 24.12.

Flocks of Waxwing sidensvans seen whilst going about the usual Christmas activities both in Hamar and downtown Oslo. Biggest flock in Oslo was 25, biggest in Hamar 45 - but just random sightings really. Still flocks of Redpoll gråsisik knocking about in both places.

Near Hamar a flock of 70 Yellowhammer gulspurv was the most I have seen in one place for years! Also on Hamar good views of Beaver, Roe Deer and Fox. Goshawk hønsehauk here and there and, in a Hamar context at least, a Robin rødstrupe was probably the most unusual sighting.

Beaver were very active near Hamar

Redpoll gråsisik flocks still numerous in the east of Norway

Roe Deer struggling in the cold

Goshawk hønsehauk in downtown Oslo

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Øygarden 15-21 December 2023 - Darker times

Just returned from three bird-filled weeks in New Zealand - including a few pelagic trips:) More of that sometime in the future I hope.

I returned to Øygarden just as the weather turned mild - +10C a lot of the time. All the snow and ice that was present whilst I was away rapidly thawed. Quite a bit of wind and showers throughout the period although it was work, life and a bout of covid that kept me chained to the house. No birding at all, although I did have my binoculars and point and pray camera with me whenever I did actually leave the house. As usual under such circumstances it was my terrace that produced most of the interest. Not much in the way of daylight as we approached the shortest day of the year but this was absolutely not the limiting factor this time around.

White-tailed Eagle havørn and up to four Otters were seen daily from the house. My bird feeders proved attractive to flocks of Greenfinch grønnfink and a Chaffinch bokfink or two. Sparrowhawk spurvehauk had a go at the garden birds a couple of time. Other stuff from the terrace included a first year Great Northern Diver islom on 21.12 when an unseasonal flock of Oystercatcher tjeld also turned up. Velvet Scoter sjøorre and more also seen at Nautnes.

First year Great Northern Diver islom photographed from my terrace 21.12

A most unseasonal flock of Oystercatcher tjeld turned up in front of the house on 21.12
Oystercatcher are seen in very small numbers most winters but a flock of four is a big flock during the wintertime:)

Tjeldstø was largely frozen during the period but a male Teal krikkand joined Mallard stokkand and Mergansers siland on the sea there. As the thaw set in Whoopers sangsvane and other wildfowl returned to their usual freshwater haunts.

Male Teal krikkand with Mallards stokkand at Tjeldstø

Breivik produced a young Whooper sangsvane associating with 1-3 Greylags grågås and on 20.12 there was also a Yellowhammer gulspurv there - never a common species out here it is only rarely recorded in the middle winter.

First year Whooper sangsvane with a Greylag grågås at Breivik 15.12. Greylag numbers increased to three a few days later

Yellowhammer gulspurv at Breivik - quite a rarity in northern Øygarden in December:)

Dåvøy was short on gulls but the Heron gråhegre roost numbered up to 30 individuals and a Slavonian Grebe horndykker was present on 21.12.

Record short of the Slav grebe horndykker at Dåvøy

Otherwise small flocks of Fieldfare gråtrost and Redwing rødvingetrost still hanging on various places.