The drive up from Oslo to Bodø with stops in Røros and Grong gave few birds other than the Red-necked Phalaropes and Slav Grebes that I have already shown. One reason for this though was that I “sacrificed” (for the sake of family harmony) two of my usual bird stops for a new butterfly stop in Junkerdalen. This valley on the northern edge of Saltfjellet is renowned for its flora and fauna but for unknown reasons I have never visited before. A bit of research though had shown the possibility for a number of rare northern butterfly species and with it being sunny with little wind I thought the omens were good. Unfortunately, there were few butterflies and the ones that allowed themselves to be identified were common as.
I have already had two early morning trips to the bird rich bays at Fauske but have yet to locate Knobby. There are good numbers of birds and it is interesting to see how species and locations vary from year to year – for example I have not had any Long-tailed Ducks this year and at Klungset the seaducks are much closer to land this year but at Røvika much further out. Best birds so far have been two summer plumaged Great Northern Divers (the first time I have seen them here), 9 summer plumaged Red-necked Grebes, Scaup and male King Eider but of course I am still hoping to find something much rarer amongst the over 1000 moulting seaduck (mostly males Velvet Scoter and Common Eider) in the area. Perhaps rarest bird I have found was a Yellow Wagtail that looks to be of the Blue-headed type (subspecies flava) but these things are never easy and this far north it may well be something from much further east.
Butterflies continue to interest me and I have seen my first Purple edged Copper (purpurgullvinge) and Mountain Argus (sankthansblåvinge). Also by looking at every single Blue in the area I have found Mazarine, Idas and Cranberry flying together. Orchids are very plentiful and very variable around the cabin but I still find them extremely challenging. I'l show the butterflies and maybe orchids in a separate post
Velvet Scoter (sjøorre), Common Scoter (svartand) and Scaup (bergand)
Great Northern Divers (islom)
Red-necked Grebes (gråstrupedykker)
Velvet Scoters and a single female Common Scoter. Velvet Scoters are over 90% male whereas amogst the much smaller numbers of Common Scoter it is females that are in the majority
a single male Common is amongst this flock of Velvets
2 male and a female Scaup
Red-throated Diver (smålom)
male Bluethroat (blåstrupe)
and a female
adult Curlew (storspove) with a worm
and one of 3 youngsters it was guarding over
male Yellow Wagtail (gulerle) of the scandinavian race thunbergi
and a female thunbergi
an early juvenile Yellow Wagtail
and what appears to be a male Blue-headed Wagtail (flava)
A couple of days near Røros gave disappointingly few birds but a close encounter with breeding Slavonian Grebes is not to be sniffed at.
Slavonian Grebe (horndykker) pair with three youngters. The right hand youngster was noticeably larger and one of the parents tried to chase it away on a number of occasions. I believe this youngster actually belonged to another pair of Slavs on the lake
here the larger youngster is begging for food
here a close up of the larger youngster
and here with food (not sure what) is one of the birds that I believe to be it true parent
One of the highlights (for me at least) of the drive north from Oslo is stopping to see Red-necked Phalaropes and with the Beast needing a walk it fitted in well. It is now in the middle of the breeding season and they become difficult to find but I had three birds which looked like two males and a female. The males behaved as though they had nests or young nearby whereas the female was more relaxed as she should be. Phalaropes, like Dotterel, have sexual role reversal with the female being brighter plumaged and doing all the chasing. Then after she has laid the eggs she leaves the incubating and looking after of the young to the male.
Summer holidays have started and we are currently staying at a cabin near Hulvik south of Oslo (whilst waiting for an indication that the weather will change and make a visit to the cabin in Bodø a slightly summery experience). The weather has been hot and sunny (reaching 25C) but the variety of butterflies is a good indication of how much drier and hoter it was last year. This time last year there was a much greater variety and number (if one excludes Painted Ladies) of butterflies here. I have however seen three new species – Dingy Skipper which definitely lives up to its name, Grizzled Skipper which is tiny and Moorland Clouded Yellow. Also, after seeing my first Pearly Heaths last year Ihave now seen a number of them this year. I have not seen any Silver Washed or High Brown or Purple Hairstreaks which were numerous last year and only a couple of Dark Greens which were also numerous last year.
Red-backed Shrikes are present but not as numerous as last year with only 2 possible pairs compared to up to 7 last year.
I have had one nocturnal trip but it was a bit too windy and Tawny Owls were the only reward I had. Unusually I saw an adult hunting but it flew just as I tried to get a photo. Three begging youngsters were much more cooperative but at 10 to midnight in a wood my photo was never going to win any prizes…
Here is my Butterfly list from this time last year when we were also staying in the cabin with a comparison to this years sightings:
1. Large Skipper /engsmyger (photo)
2. Large White / stor kålsommerfugl
3. Green-veined White/rapssommerfugl
4. Brimstone / sitronsommerfugl
5. Silver-studded Blue/argusblåvinge (photo) at least assumed this species and not Idas
6. Scarce Copper/oransjegullvinge (photo)
7. Purple hairstreak / eikestjertvinge
8. Silver washed fritillary / keiserkåpe
9. Dark Green Fritillary /aglajperlemorvinge (photo)
10. High Brown Fritillary /adippeperlemorvinge
11. Queen of Spain Fritillary / sølvkåpe (photo)
12. Lesser Marbled Fritillary/engperlemorvinge
13. Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary /brunflekket perlemorvinge (photo)
14. Red Admiral / admiral
15. Small Tortoiseshell / neslesommerfugl
16. Poplar Admiral/ospesommerfugl
17. Northern Wall Brown /Bergringvinge
18. Pearly Heath /perleringvinge (photo)
19. Small Heath / engringvinge
20. Ringlet /gullrinvinge
21. Arran Brown /fløyelsringvinge
22. Grayling / kystringvinge
23. Holly Blue / vårblåvinge
24. Small White / liten kålsommerfugl
25. Common Blue / tiriltungeblåvinge (photo) – lots of variation in underwing including one seemingly lacking spots on forewing close to root
6. Painted Lady / tistelsommerfugl (photo) – amazingly enough but the commonest butterfly in 2019 was not even seen in 2018!
Common Blue (tiriltungeblåvinge) - these poorly marked males often cause me problems
4 different Commn Blues showing the variety. Top left is a female and the rest are males I think. Bottom left shows no (visible) black spots at the front of the upperwing - these balck spots are supposed to be diagnostic of Common Blue
Dark Green Fritillary (aglajaperlemorvinge)
the same Dark Green
another Dark Green. I only saw these two but the species was numerous last year
Pearl bordered Fritillary (rødflekket perlemorvinge) I believe
Queen of Spain Fritillary (sølvkåpe) - the only one I saw
Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary (brunflekket perlemorvinge)
Small Pearl Bordered
Heath Fritillary (marinjellerutevinge)
Dingy Skipper (tiriltungesmyger)
Large Skippers (engsmyger)
large Skipper (engsymger)
Grizzled Skipper (bakkesmyge)
this years commonest butterfly: Painted Lady (tistelsommerfugl)
some have flown a long way and lived a long time and a barely recongnisable
Small Copper (ildgullvinge)
Scarce Copper (oransjegullvinge)
Pearly Heaths (perleringve) were common
either Silver-studded Blue (argusblåvinge) or Idas but you need to see the front leg under a microscope to find out which
my first ever Moorland Clouded Yellow (myrgulvinge)
I have been guiding the last two days. Firstly, Donna and Doug from Californian and today Steve and Ann from Blighty.
Wehave visited Fornebu, Østensjøvannet and Maridalen and we have seen a lot of birds with many species feeding young either in the nest or newly fledged. At Fornebu I discovered a pair of Thrush Nightingales bringing food to a nest. They were very close to a path and it was their alarm calling that alerted me to them. I did not recognise the call and the closest I could come was young owls but after a bit of searching found one and then both Thrush Nightingales with food in their beaks. The views were great but it was a bit gloomy so pictures do not do justice. We also had Ringed Plovers, Wheatears, Whitethroats, Skylarks and Willow Warblers all with fledged young and Marsh Warblers singing. 4 Lapwings were early autumn migrants although hopefully not failed breeders.
At Østensjøvannet we had a great show from Great Crested Grebes with two adults swimming under the bridge we were standing on and being visible under water.
In Maridalen Goshawk, flycatchers, Black-throated Diver, Iccy, Rosefinch and Red-backed Shrike all showed well.
In total over the two days we had around 80 species.
Thrush Nightingale (nattergal) with food for young
in many species the yellow at the base of the bill would be a sign of a juvenile bird but not in this species
telling Thrush and Common Nightingales apart is not easy on either song or plumage but a good photo shows that P1 is very short thus confirming Thrush...
Thrush Nightingale video - most interesting for the calls
Thrush Nightingale alarm call 25 June 2019 - YouTube
great feet on a Great Crested Grebe (toppdykker)
swims like a frog
Great Crested Grebe swimming under water (video from a series of stills)
Great Crested Grebe underwater 25 June 2019 - YouTube
juvenile Magpie (skjære)
juvenile Ringed Plover (sandlo)
adult Skylark (sanglerke)
adult female Wheatear (steinskvett) who had fledged young nearby
juvenile Whitethroat (tornsanger)
more juv Whitethroats
and even more
and the whole brood of seven in this picture although there may have been one more
juvenile Willow Warbler (løvsanger)
one of the male Red-backed Shrikes in Maridalen. We also saw the other catching a dragonfly in flight
this male Yellowhammer (gulsurv) had also caught a dragonfly although I am not sure of what type
Roe Deer mum and two youngsters
male Common Rosefinch. The area where I believe they had their nest has been "cleaned up" since yesterday afternoon and all vegetation and saplings cut down. Who and why I do not know
Black-throated Divers nest from last week
Black throated Diver nest Maridalen 21 June 2019 - YouTube
And the sound of a singing Quail in Maridalen that I popped out to hopefully see but as usual failed to on Tuesday evening after Per Christian had found it on Monday night (although it could well be the same bird first heard elsewhere in the Dale by Halvard H a couple of weeks ago)
Summer is having a hard time establishing itself this year but this weekend was quite warm and sunny. Dragonflies were out in Maridalen and so was the Hobby which with luck is a (fairly) local breeding bird. Taking the photos of it that I would like to take is still a work in progress though
here it has spotted a Fragonfly and is chasing after it
the head and body is where the food is
and the wings are discarded
Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary (brunflekket perlemorvinge)
I often have posts along the lines of The Dale delivers or The Dale surprises, well it keeps on doing both. Mid June should be a period of few surprises with all birds in breeding modus. Of course there can be some interesting breeding birds but I should have discovered these already by now.
Well over the last 3 days the Dale has given me Red-breasted Flycatcher (surprise), Honey Buzzard, Red-backed Shrike, Spotted Redshank (big surprise), Marsh Warbler, Three-toed Woodpecker, Common Rosefinch plus young Goshawks and Common Terns in seemingly three different ages classes plus loads more.
Red-breasted Flycatchers have bred the last two years so I had high hopes they would reappear this year but visits in May failed to reveal any and with very few having been recorded in Norway this spring I assumed that was that. But on Wednesday I felt sure that I could hear a distant singing RbF and as I excitedly walked closer it became clear that it was one. I then was very interested to see what the bird looked like – could it be the same old male from the last two years? No, was the answer, it was a 2cy male and therefore lacking the red. But this then raises questions. Did the pair whose nest fell down last year breed again unnoticed by us (not for lack of trying) or was this a completely new bird in which case the area has an amazing attraction for the species which otherwise is not recorded breeding annually in Norway. He was singing very actively in the 45 minutes I was with him but was not to be found again yesterday. At this late time of the spring an unmated male probably moves around a lot hoping desperately to find a female in time. The last time I was in the area was 4 June so the bird could also clearly also have been around for a while before I found it.
On Wednesday, I also first had a skydancing Honey Buzzard at some distance and then when I got to the area I had what was most likely another Honey Buzzard 20 minutes later and this one a female was dogfighting with a Peregrine!
I visited the Three-toed Woodpecker nest site just in case they were still nesting. The male was present and I followed him for over an hour during which he stayed within 100m of the nest including on a neighbouring tree but never visited the nest and there was no sign that the female was in the nest so I still believe nesting has failed but can’t be 100% sure.
Both male Red-backed Shrikes are still around and Marsh, Icterine and Wood Warblers singing. Common Rosefinches are present at one site where there is a pair and a male who is trying to get in on the action. Interestingly all three birds could be in the same area without there being any calling or singing but the paired male would actively chase off the other male only for him to return.
Yesterday on the lake three men from the Water Company (Maridalsvannet is the source of Oslo’s drinking water) were out on the main island. I only saw them when they were getting back on their boat so don’t know what they were doing or how long they had been there but the island was empty og birds and lots of gulls and geese were on the water plus also a pair of Black-throated Divers. It did not take long after the men had left for the gulls to return and one of the divers swam towards the island. I then suddenly noticed three waders washing themselves on the waters eddge. The distance was great but they were 2 Greenshank and 1 summer plumage Spotted Redshank! The only previous record of Spot Red here was also in June during rainy weather and these birds are most likely adult females that leave their breeding grounds after the eggs have hatched and leave childcare to the male. I rushed around to get close to the island but in the 15 minutes it took me the waders had continued on their way. I did see though that Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls were back on their nests and there were also at least 4 young LBBGs walking about so if the Water Company people had been trying to remove the birds for pollution reasons (which I understand they are allowed to do) then they hadn’t succeeded. I also saw that a Black-throated Diver was clearly on a nest which goes against my comment from last week that the divers ahd clearly given up nesting due to the high water levels. They have nested late before though and last year young were still being fed by their parents in September.
The final surprise yesterday was provided by Common Terns. This species is very irregular on the lake but yesterday I heard and then saw 4 birds. The surprise was not the number (which is a record) but the ages of the birds. Two looked like standard adults but one was seemingly a 2cy and the other was not quite adult and therefore I assume to be a 3cy. Non adult birds normally stay in the winter quarters so it is rare to see younger age classes in Norway.
Things are going well in both the Goshawk nests after both failed last year. In one nest there are 4 youngsters and in the other which is much higher up I saw one large youngster but there could well have been more.
Today I decided to spend some time watching the island with the breeding gulls and divers. I spent three and half hours there from 0925-1255 and can report that during that time the sitting diver did not leave the nest, none of the baby gulls were fed by their parents and that baby gulls are very good at hiding in grass. Oh, and you get a numb bum sitting on a rock for so long….
It looks like a female Red-breasted Flycatcher (dvergfluesnapper) but it sang so is therefore a 2cy male
Red breasted Flycatcher Oslo 19 June 2019 - YouTube
female Honey Buzzard (vepsevåk) and Swift (tårnseiler)
with a 2cy Peregrine (vandrefalk). Here the HB looks very like a Common Buzzard (musvåk)
a male Blackcap (munk)
4 young in one of the Goshawk (hønsehauk) nests
a nest last used 3 years ago which now has grass growing out the top
the mother of the 4 young
and the other Goshawk nest where only one youngster was visible. Note how both the nests have fresh green branches placed on them
a Spotted Flycatcher (gråfluesnapper) on its eggs
male Three-toed Woodpeckers (tretåspett) and its seemingly abandoned nest hole
it is typical for this species to feed low down and also have a nest low down
Whooper Swans (sangsvane)
the 2cy Common Tern (makrellterne)
an adult Common Tern
and a bird which is possibly a 3cy due to a dark bill and black on the secondaries
female Goldeneye (kvinand) and young
female Mallard (stokkand) and young
male Lapwing (vipe) who clearly had a youngster nearby
and here letting me know my presence was unwanted
one of the Red-backed Shrikes (tornskate)
it is difficult to grow tired of Common Rosefinches (rosenfink)
and the female who is very non descript
I'm not quite sure whether this Sand Martin (sandsvale) has some sort of insect growing out of it or whether it is a tumor. I am also unsure whether it is missing its lower mandible or..