There is a trade-off when it comes to standing out. The most spectacular are often more exposed to predators. During migration many birds form groups to avoid predation. Then it is harder for a raptor to pick out a single bird. But sometimes joining a flock isn't the best solution. At least, that was what it looked like yesterday evening.
I went on an afternoon trip to Herdla bird sanctuary to look for waders, and they were plentiful. In between a group of 70 Ruffs, a juvenile Icelandic Black-tailed Godwit fed on the fields. A young Peregrine Falcon was in the air, and they all took off. The predator accelerated and caught up with the rather stressed flock. It was only a few inches away from getting a hit. The Falcon continued to chase them, and a few unortodox moves later, a meal was secured! At the time I thought it was a Ruff in the claws of the Peregrine.
I managed to shoot some long distance shots of the hunt, and back home I was looking through the pics for the first time. The prey on the first (non successful) attack was in fact the Black-tailed Godwit. As was the second! I suppose the outstandingness of the Godwit among the flying Ruffs (flashy wingbands and another flight pattern) made the Falcon's choice easy. Unfortunately for the local rarity.
The Common Kingfisher is a rare breeding species in Norway with about 20 records since the first in 1962. All are from southeastern Norway. The discovery of a pair copulating in suitable habitat in Sandvika near Oslo during late April, turned out to be the first confirmed breeding record for ages in Norway.
I visited Oslo last weekend, and took my bins for a walk on Saturday morning. Shortly after arrival the male showed well, briefly sitting on a branch near the nest. During the next 90 minutes both the male and female were out fishing, returning with small items in the bill. The first chicks had apparently hatched during the last days.
The size of the food items the male brought back to the nest were pretty small. Indication of recently hatched chicks?
The slow floating river proved to be perfect for a Kingfisher, with branches covering the shallow riverbed. The nest was placed below the closest trees.
Following some days of warm weather from the southeast several rare birds showed up in Norway during mid May. One of them was a White-winged Tern near Trondheim in middle Norway. A few days after the discovery I was visiting my family in Trondheim to celebrate Constitution Day on 17 May. Slightly surprising the tern stayed for several days, and I was lucky to see it twice during my stay. These pictures were shot in the afternoon 15 May.
The bird was mostly feeding in the salt (brackish) waters along the shore, but did also go terrestrial from time to time, when it fed on the recently sown fields inside the shoreline.
Identification of adult summer White-winged Tern is pretty straightforward. The underwing pattern, with contrasting black underwing coverts and greyish white primaries, is probably the most obvious way to separate it from the slightly similar Black Tern. The contrast between the blackish back and bright grey wing is also missing in the generally duller Black Tern.
White-winged Black Terns are rare in Norway with about 65 records. Most birds have been found in May and June, and during the late summer.
Gaulosen river delta. The White-winged Tern favorite patch was at the shore in front. The area was very good at the moment with hundreds of Redshanks (236 birds in one feeding flock!), lots of Greenshanks and several Green Sandpipers, Whimbrels and Gadwalls to mention a few.
This morning I got an e-mail from fellow birder Ola Moen with a picture of a drake Ring-necked Duck. The e-mail was sent from his mobile phone, and he said "this is a Ring-Necked Duck, right?". I replied "yes, where is it?". This Nearctic species has never been recorded in Hordaland county before, so I was refreshing my e-mail continously during the next half hour. Eventually, Ola called me and could tell that the bird was feeding in a small ice-free patch in a lake north of Bergen. Ka-pow!
Ring-necked Duck is a true rarity in Norway, with only 33 records up to and including 2014. It was an awaited species in Hordaland county. We have been scanning for the species in Tufted Duck groups for ages. The star of the day did not have to share any attention with other birds. It was all by itself, and not in a party of other Aythya's as expected.
View from the bridge (see photo above). The site is a slow-floating stream between two lakes, and both lakes are completely frozen. The narrow stream is the only ice-free spot, forcing the bird to stay rather close to the road. Birders were encouraged to stay on the road, and most did. If the bird lifts, the possibility of never seeing it again is obvious.
During the waterbird count in Bergen (western Norway) today, we witnessed some real mammal action. First we discovered a Mink Neovison vison swimming in a small slip in the ice at lake Store Lungegårdsvann. It was apparently stressed, and swam back and fourth in the water. Suddenly a Rat Rattus norvegicus (first actually thought to be another Mink because of its large size) popped up from a crack in the wall. The Mink speeded against it, and the Rat had no other option than to jump in the water. When the Mink approached it, the Rat dived under the ice, and we could see the more swim-efficient Mink catching up to its prey. They both emerged in the ice free slip, and the Rat was far from dead. The Mink had a proper grip around the Rats head, and they fought intensively for half a minute or so, before they disappeared under the pier we hung out on. A desperate scream from the Rat was the last we heard of them.
Seeing a proper sized mammal kill another is not something I experience often. A moment of literally breathtaking action.
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