Bullfinches (dompap) take a very wide range of seeds in my garden including hawthorn, rowan, nettle and Norway spruce, as well as buds of different trees, but this was the first time I’d seen them taking guelder rose (Viburnum opulus) seed and I could see them discarding the flesh of the berries. Even when they have a rich supply of sunflower seeds, they will continue also to take natural food.
Category Archives: Birds
Waxwing and Tawny Owl
A small flock of Waxwings (sidensvans) finally arrived at the end of November and have been foraging in the garden since (rowans / rogn failed this year). In these videos, they are eating apples, elderberry and guelder rose berries (epler, svarthyll and krossved). I’ve heard tawny owl (kattugle) calling in the garden regularly recently too and the last video is a recording of one calling.
We were entertained yesterday by 3 white-tailed eagles (havørn) flying low over the bay and two sat for some time on trees on Malvikodden on the other side of the bay, about 700m away, hence rather poor resolution film.
Female pied flycatcher
There’s a pair of pied flycatchers (svarthvit fluesnapper) in the garden this year. I first heard the male singing on 13th and on the 22th I made this video of the female who is hopefully now sitting on eggs. The male continues to sing most of the day (20+ hours) and has since yesterday concentrated its efforts in a different part of the garden with a couple of vacant bird boxes, so it’s likely he’s enticing a second female (polygamy is not unusual for this species).
How do they do it?
It’s always a surprise when I’m woken to the song of a wren (gjerdesmett) in the garden at this time of year. This is not only the second smallest bird in Norway, but along with the smallest bird goldcrest (fuglekonge) they rely almost only on natural food and don’t come to bird feeders. It’s been a relatively snow rich winter with stable conditions over long periods, but somehow this bird has made it through the winter. There have been reports of wrens regularly through the winter in this area, so it’s likely that it has overwintered (some of the local population migrate to milder areas in western Europe). I haven’t heard them in the daytime yet this year, so it’s probably spending the night in one of the bird boxes in the garden and finding food elsewhere!
Over the last couple of days there’ve been large numbers of birds in the garden making me think of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, although there have been fortunately no casualties as far as I know. I try to limit the amount of bird food I put out (as its production isn’t good for birds) and it’s good to see that most species are still eating natural food.
This winter there’ve been reports from all over the county of unusual numbers of overwintering bramblings (bjørkefink) with flocks up to 300 birds recorded. I’ve had smaller flocks of 20-30 for some time, but yesterday they were everywhere in the garden and at least 140 birds were present, a new winter record for Malvik kommune! The films below show them both at the bird feeder, feeding on rowan berries (eating the seed and discarding the flesh) and also on the ground perhaps feeding on birch seed?
Apart from that there was a sizeable flock of some 60 waxwings (sidensvans) on guelder rose / krossved (Viburnum opulus) and hawthorn (hagtorn) , 11 bullfinches (dompap), 50 house sparrows (gråspurv), 6 goldfinches (stillits) still mostly on burdock seed, 16 siskins (on birch seed), 6 greenfinches (grønnfink), 2 hawfinches (kjernebiter) seen on plum stones and rowan berries, a single robin (rødstrupe), a couple of fieldfares (gråtrost) on apples and hawthorn, a great spotted woodpecker (flaggspett) and great and blue tits both establishing territories now. In addition, a flock of 500-600 jackdaws (kaie) fly over to the roost every evening.
Bramblings with a hawfinch:
Bramblings with a hawfinch feeding on rowan seed (at the end, both birds are seen to discard the flesh). A greenfinch was also feeding on rowan.
Bramblings on the ground (feeding on birch seed?)
Large flock of bramblings at the bird feeder:
This January has been a stormy month here in this area with a series of severe weather systems moving past, one (Gyda) with a name, resulting in many trees down, flooding, landslides and avalanches, but my rocky hillside has escaped lightly with just a few branches ripped from trees. With winds largely blowing from the west it’s also been mild with snow coming and going and no frost in the soil. Higher up, there¨’s been large amounts of snow accumulating.
The latest extreme weather system has given a forecast of very high waves on the Norwegian coast with a deep 960 hPa low located off Eastern Greenland and extensive strong wind fields between there and Norway. Due to the limited fetch lengths in the fjord (maximum about 20 km across the fjord) significant wave heights above 1.5 to 2m are rare. With very strong winds from NE blowing across the fjord and the right stage of the tide, there were some impressive waves in the bay earlier this week. The second video shows a woodpigeon (ringdue) hunched up against the wind.
New House Sparrow record
In Norway, the house sparrow (gråspurv) has been categorised as Near threatened (NT), i.e., close to being endangered in the near future. This is probably a result of a lack of breeding holes in roofs in a country where so many roofs have been improved without any thought for roof nesting birds like house sparrows and swifts (tårnseiler). I have a nest box up in the eaves which house sparrows use, although it was originally intended for swifts. Swallows have also declined in my area due to improvements to outbuildings on farms.
Therefore, I was happy this week to register the largest flock of house sparrows (90) in the garden in the course of over 35 years! They were only present for a short period on 3 different days.
Stock Dove: A new species for the garden
A Charm of Goldfinches
With heavy wet snow overnight weighing down all the plants in the garden together with plummeting air temperature, a flock of goldfinches (stillits) (collectively known as a Charm) were at the bird feeder this morning. I guess it’s more difficult for goldfinches to get at their preferred food, burdock seed (Arctium spp.) in these conditions.
With bramblings (bjørkefink), greenfinch (grønnfink) and yellowhammers (gulspurv).