The Birds

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:

Harvesting midwinter nodding onions

Allium cernuum (nodding onion / prærieløk) is hardy more or less anywhere people live and stays green all winter here. It’s been mild with snow coming and going for several weeks and there’s no frost in the soil. I dug up a clump yesterday to use in the kitchen and replanted a few. Some were used in a salad and others will be used in any dishes with onion in the next couple of weeks (Indian, Chinese, Mediterranean pasta with green sauce….anything really).

The sun is back

I noticed this morning sun shadows on the wall behind my back in the living room! YES, the sun is back. A whole week of cloudy weather after the sun was due to rise again above the southern horizon, so it wasn¨’t until today we could finally be sure that the sun was back, but there was only a small break in the clouds and it was soon gone again. However, spring is definitely in the air and two great tits (kjøttmeis) have been singing in the garden the last two days and a blue tit (blåmeis) joined them a couple of times! Good times!

January storms

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 new bird species for the garden this morning,  a stock dove (skogdue) in the company of a woodpigeon? Stock doves are very rare breeders in my area, but seem to becoming more common. In fact, apart from one observation in 1928 and, remarkably, one bird on exactly the same day on the other side of Trondheim, I recorded the first stock dove in my county (Trøndelag) on 13th May 1982 at Malvikodden on the other side of the bay from where I live and the first spring after I moved to Norway. I would probably have missed it as I only heard the song, which I was familiar with from living in Scotland. Although breeding was never proven, singing birds were observed on Malvikodden until the last observation in 1987. It was then almost 20 years before the next breeding observation in Trøndelag (see the histogram).
An article was written about this by a neighbour, Stein Are Sæther;
Sæther 1987: Skogdua i Trøndelag. Trøndersk Natur 14: 86-94.

Number of breeding registrations of stock dove in Trøndelag from 1980 to 2021 (NB! there are several registrations of the same breeding pair, so this is not a true record of trends)
Number of records of stock dove in Trøndelag from 1980 to 2021 (NB! there are several registrations of the same birds, so this is not a true record of trends)

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).

THE NEW EDIMENTALS SEED TRADE LIST FOR 2021-2022

WELCOME TO MY NEW SEED TRADE LIST FOR WINTER 2021-22, THIS YEAR WITH 323 VARIETIES
19, 20, 21 indicate the harvesting year for the seed. Concerning seed quantity: as I don’t have many plants of each species, seed quantity is limited in most cases. Therefore, for some species you may only get a few seeds. Many species are harvested in my garden. Others are surplus from trade and purchase. OUT: Means out of stock.  NB! Cultivars do not always come true. I offer them anyway, but no guarantees to what you will get!  
NOTE: I don’t sell seed and I won’t be doing many trades this winter due to a busy schedule. However, I offer all plus to members of Norwegian Seed Savers (KVANN) through our spring (February) “yearbook” and autumn catalogue. To become a member go to https://kvann.no/bli-med. It costs only kr. 250 / year plus postage and packing.
For trades, I am mainly interested in uncommon hardy perennials, but I may also be interested in annuals.
NB! Not all plants in this list are edible, although almost all are!
Botanical name / Cultivar / Year of Harvest / Info
Abelmoschus esculentus Silver Queen 19
Agastache foeniculum 19
Agastache foeniculum Alba 20
Alcea rosea 21
Allium aflatunense 20
Allium altissimum 20
Allium amphibolum 21
Allium anisotepalum 19
Allium atropurpureum 20
Allium atroviolaceum 20
Allium bekeczalicum 19
Allium bekeczalicum x alaicum 19
Allium brevicaule 19
Allium canadense 21
Allium carinatum Pulchellum 19
Allium carinatum Pulchellum Album 19
Allium carolinianum 21
Allium cepa Newburg onion 19
Allium cepa Rossa Lunga di Firenze 19
Allium cepa Green Bunattina 20
Allium cepa Ishikura 20
Allium cepa Lafort 20
Allium cepa Lava 20
Allium cepa Laskala 20
Allium cepa Musona Alpina 19
Allium cepa White Lisbon 20
Allium cepa White Lisbon Winter Hardy 20
Allium cepa Guardsman 20
Allium cepa Katana F1 19
Allium cernuum Mix 21
Allium crenulatum 21
Allium cretaceum 19
Allium cyathophorum 21
Allium darwasicum 19
Allium douglasii 21
Allium erubescens 19
Allium fetisowii 19
Allium fistulosum Auen 4 19
Allium fistulosum Bygland 19
Allium fistulosum Gribovskij 21
Allium fistulosum Leppasyrja 19
Allium fistulosum Neset 19
Allium fistulosum Unknown Japanese (hardy) 21
Allium fistulosum Kaj 19
Allium fistulosum Gerda 19
Allium fistulosum North Holland Blood Red 19
Allium fistulosum Ex Salatnyj 30 20
Allium fistulosum Ex Anemette Olesen 20
Allium fistulosum Ex Nerøygarden 20
Allium fistulosum Ex Valbjør 20
Allium fistulosum Ex Søre Breden 20
Allium fistulosum Ex Sve 20
Allium fistulosum Ex Aprelskiy 20
Allium fistulosum Ex Svenskelauk 20
Allium fistulosum Ex Idunn 20
Allium fistulosum Ex Elfried Søvold 20
Allium fistulosum Ex Italy 20
Allium fistulosum Ringve Mix 20
Allium flavum Mix 21
Allium fuscoviolaceum 18
Allium galanthum 21
Allium aff. geyeri 21
Allium globosum 19
Allium hookeri var muliense 21
Allium hymenorrhizum 20
Allium insubricum 21
Allium jesdianum Akbulak 19
Allium jesdianum Purple King 21
Allium karataviense Ex-Ivory Queen 21
Allium karelinii 19
Allium lipskyanum 19
Allium lusitanicum from Moravia 20
Allium macranthum 21
Allium mairei 19
Allium narcissiflorum 21
Allium nutans x flavescens 19
Allium obliquum 21
Allium ovalifolium var. leuconervum 21
Allium paczoskianum 19
Allium praescissum 19
Allium pskemense x fistulosum 19
Allium rotundum 19
Allium rotundum subsp jajlae 19
Allium saxatile 19
Allium schoenoprasoides 21
Allium schoenoprasum Dolores Chives 19
Allium schoenoprasum subsp sibiricum 20
Allium schoenoprasum var orientale 20
Allium scorodoprasum Abrahamshallen Bergen 21
Allium scorodoprasum Borøya 21
Allium scorodoprasum Grums. Värmland 21
Allium scorodoprasum Homborsund Fyr 21
Allium scorodoprasum Leikerøya,Risør 21
Allium scorodoprasum Sandøya, Farsund 21
Allium scorodoprasum Skåtøy, Kragerø 21
Allium scorodoprasum Kristiansand 21
Allium scorodoprasum Uppsala 21
Allium severtzovioides 19
Allium sewerzowii 19
Allium spirale 19
Allium splendens 20
Allium stipitatum 21
Allium stipitatum Album 21
Allium stipitatum Ex-Goliath 19
Allium strictum 18
Allium suaveolens 19
Allium tianschanicum 19
Allium tuberosum 21
Allium tuberosum from Margaret Short i Alaska 20
Allium tuberosum Nien Hwa (Vreeken) 20
Allium tuberosum Geisha 20
Allium ursinum 21
Allium validum 21
Allium victorialis 21
Allium ulleungense? (Ex-Allium victorialis from Gothenburg) 21
Allium wallichii 21
Allium wallichii 19
Amorphophallus konjac 21
Anethum graveolens 21
Angelica acutiloba 21
Angelica grayi 21
Anredera cordifolia 21
Anthriscus cerefolium 21
Apium graveolens Aberdeen selection (leaf celery from Alan Carter’s Forest Garden in Aberdeen) 20
Apium graveolens Green Utah 20
Apium graveolens Red Stem 19
Aquilegia caerulea 21
Aquilegia chrysantha 19
Arabis alpina Snow Peak 20
Aralia californica 21
Aralia racemosa 21
Arctium lappa 19
Aster tripolium 21
Atriplex hortensis BRITAS TRÄDGÅRDSMÅLLA 19
Atriplex hortensis Rubra 21
Atriplex hortensis Være 21
Barbarea verna American Land Cress 18
Barbarea vulgaris Variegata 19
Basella alba 21
Begonia heracleifolia var nigricans 20
Brassica juncea Leaf Heading Mustard 19
Brassica juncea Giant Red 18
Brassica oleracea Ex-Tree collards Flerårige Kål 19
Brassica oleracea Broccolini 17
Brassica oleracea Branchu de L’Embarras 17
Brassica oleracea Kalettes 17
Brassica oleracea Ex-Asturian Trekål 20
Brassica oleracea Ex-Pentland Brig 19
Brassica oleracea Ex-Heligoland Flerårige Kål 19
Brassica oleracea Ex-Cottager’s Flerårige Kål 19
Brassica oleracea Ex-Ragged Jack Kale 19
Brassica oleracea Couve Galega 18
Brassica oleracea Daubenton Grex 17
Brassica oleracea Daubenton x Late Purple Sprouting Broccoli 19
Brassica rapa Cima di Rapa Sessantina 16
Brassica rapa Snowball Turnip 18
Brassica rapa Petrowski Turnip (from Alaska) 20
Calamintha grandiflora Variegata 19
Calamintha sylvestris 21
Calendula officinalis Mix 21
Campanula latifolia Mix 19
Campanula persicifolia 19
Campanula punctata Ex- Rubrifolia 19
Campanula takesimana 20
Campanula trachelium Bernice 19
Capsicum annuum Ausilio Thin Skin Italian Pepper 20
Centaurea deabalta 21
Chelidonium majus 20
Chelidonium majus Flore Pleno (Double) 21
Chenopodium bonus-henricus 21
Chenopodium quinoa Stephe 19
Chrysanthemum (Glebionis) coronarium 20
Cicerbita alpina 21
Cicerbita plumieri 19
Cichorium endivia Cornet de Bordeaux 17
Cichorium intybus Catalogna Gigante di Chioggia 19
Cichorium intybus Bianca 17
Cichorium intybus Orchidea Rossa 18
Cichorium intybus Rossa di Verona Sel. Arca 17
Cichorium intybus Perennial chicory selections from Tim Peters 16
Cirsium canum 21
Cirsium eriophorum 19
Cirsium japonicum 20
Cirsium oleraceum 21
Cirsium setidens 21
Clematis vitalba 19
Commelina coelestis 20
Commelina coelestis Alba 20
Conopodium majus 21
Crambe maritima 21
Cryptotaenia canadensis 21
Cryptotaenia japonica Atropurpurea 21
Cucurbita maxima Sweet Fall 19
Cucurbita pepo Paydon Heirloom Acorn 20
Dioscorea polystachya 21
Dioscorea polystachya Ichoimo 21
Dioscorea polystachya Pollinator Males 21
Diplotaxis tenuifolia Wildfire 18
Diplotaxis tenuifolia Dragon’s Fire 18
Diplotaxis tenuifolia Heirloom Rustic Style 18
Dipsacus japonicus 19
Dystaenia takesimina 21
Eleutherococcus sessiliflorus 19
Eupatorium cannabinum 20
Fagopyrum tataricum 20
Filipendula ulmaria Variegata 20
Galium odoratum 21
Hablitzia tamnoides Mix 21
Hemerocallis citrina vespertina? 21
Heracleum maxima 21
Heracleum sphondylium x sibiricum 21
Hippophae rhamnoides Ex-Umeå 20
Hydrophyllum appendiculatum 21
Hypericum perforatum 20
Inula helenium 20
Lactuca sativa Jebousek 20
Lactuca sativa Veneziana 19
Lactuca sativa Freckles 18
Lactuca sativa Italian Oak Leaf 18
Lactuca sativa Ruby Gem 17
Lactuca sativa Veneziana 19
Lactuca sativa Ruby Gem 19
Lactuca sativa Cocarde 19
Lactuca sativa Summer Bibb 17
Lactuca sativa Little Leprechaun 19
Lactuca sativa Drunken Woman 19
Leonurus cardiaca 21
Lepidium ferganense 19
Lepidium sativum 20
Lepidium sativum Kandahar Giant Cress 20
Libertia grandiflora 19
Ligularia fischeri 21
Ligularia sachalinensis 21
Ligusticum grayi 21
Lonicera iliense 20
Lycopus asper 21
Malva mohileviensis 18
Malva moschata 20
Malva moschata Alba 21
Malva sylvestris 21
Malva verticillata 18
Mertensia ciliata 21
Mertensia paniculata 19
Molopospermum peloponnesiacum 21
Monarda fistulosa 19
Nicandra physalodes 19
Oplopanax horridus 21
Orychophragmus violaceus 19
Oxalis tuberosa Rød 20
Oxalis tuberosa Gul 20
Parasenecio farfarifolius var bulbifer Chiri Fu 20
Parasenecio hastatus 21
Parasenecio hastatus subsp orientalis Ex-Shiro Sankou Hakikomi Fu 19
Pastanica sativa 21
Phaseolus vulgaris Anasazi Bean 19
Physalis Indian Strain 21
Physalis spp. 19
Phyteuma nigra 21
Phyteuma orbiculare 19
Phyteuma spicatum 19
Phytolacca americana 21
Pisum sativum Askerert (=Ringeriksert?) 20
Pisum sativum Chinese Snow Pea 20
Pisum sativum Grønn Sabel L-16 Berle 20
Pisum sativum Jærert 20
Pisum sativum Austrian Winter 20
Pisum sativum Carlin 20
Pisum sativum Mammoth Melting 20
Pisum sativum Marie’s Høye 20
Pisum sativum Purple Podded 20
Pisum sativum Robinson 20
Pisum sativum Rättviksärt 20
Pisum sativum Salmon Flowered 20
Pisum sativum Slikkerten fra Våler 20
Pisum sativum SVARTBJÖRSBYN 20
Pisum sativum Green Beauty Snow 19
Pisum sativum Sugar Magnolia 19
Platycodon grandiflorus 21
Polymnia sonchifolia 21
Proboscidea louisianica ssp fragrans 20
Prunus serotina 21
Prunus sibirica 21
Prunus tomentosa 21
Pseudostellaria heterophylla 19
Pyrus pashia 21
Raphanus sativus Runder Schwarzer Vinter 19
Raphanus sativus Radish pod variety 18
Rheum ribes 21
Rosa canina 19
Rosa ecae 19
Rosa moyesii 21
Rubus illecebrosus 21
Rosa platyacantha 19
Rudbeckia laciniata 20
Rumex acetosa Russisk Mix 21
Rumex acetosa Belleville 19
Rumex acetosa Champion 19
Rumex crispa 21
Rumex patientia 21
Ruta graveolens 19
Sanguisorba canadensis 19
Sanguisorba menziesii 21
Sanguisorba minor 21
Saxifraga pensylvanica 19
Scorzonera hispanica 21
Scorzonera hispanica Einjaehrige 21
Serratula coronata 21
Serratula tinctoria 21
Silene dioica Ray’s Golden Champion 21
Silybum marianum 21
Sinapis alba 21
Streptopus amplexifolius 20
Taraxacum albidum 20
Taraxacum leucanthum 21
Taraxacum pseudoroseum 21
Taraxacum rubifolium 21
Taraxacum sublaciniosum Delikatess (Moss-leaved) 21
Thalictrum aquilegifolium 21
Tigridia pavoniana 21
Tragopogon samaritanii 21
Trigonella foenum-graecum 20
Tropaeolum Mix 21
Tulbaghia capensis 20
Tulbaghia violacea 20
Verbascum thapsus 21
Vicia faba 20
Viola glabella 21
Zea mays Pink and Purple Popcorn 19

Natural bird food is best

I garden for the birds and other wildlife as well as myself and believe that bought bird food (sunflower seeds) is not necessarily a good thing as it’s imported and largely grown inorganically to the detrement of birds and other wildlife in the country of origin. My observations are that most bird species in our area prefer natural food (including grain in local fields) and several species never or seldom come to bird feeders. Others such as blackcap (munk) are reliant to a large extent on garden berries and fruit.  
For these reasons, I put out purchased birdfood including homegrown grain and apples only when the whether is severe. Even here in the north where we have largely had subzero temperatures day and night since November, most birds seem to be finding plentiful natural food this winter. Today, greenfinches (grønnfink) and bramblings (bjørkefink) were feeding on rowan (rogn) berries, I noticed a blue tit (blåmeis) eating nettle seed, waxwings (sidensvans) were taking guelder rose (krossved), hawthorn (hagtorn) and rowan berries (films below), a blackcap was spotted eating one of the last apples still hanging on a tree, fieldfares (gråtrost) were eating hawthorn berries and, for only the second time I noticed goldfinches feeding on chicory (sikkori) seed before switching back to burdock (borre) seed. I grow both burdock and chicory for food and a bi-product of seed saving is that the birds get a share. There are also flocks of siskins (grønnsisik), crossbills (korsnebber) and pine grosbeaks (konglebit) feeding on spruce and pine seed, often in large flocks. Every evening there are maybe a thousand crows (hooded crows / kråke and jackdaws / kaie) that fly into the roost at Vikhammer, still finding grain during our short day in the snow-covered fields. There’s also a local flock of over 90 Canada Geese (Kanadagås) that are overwintering and still able to forage in the fields. There are thousands of wildfowl also on the fjord and I today noted a flock of 250 mallard (stokkand) duck resting in the bay below the house.
Bird feeders can also have negative impact on birds as disease can spread rapidly, such as salmonellosis in greenfinch and house sparrow.
Growing plants in our gardens to supply a greater proportion of winter food for our birds is something many of us can do, but it does mean leaving seed heads to deadhead until spring and encouraging wild plants such as nettles which have multiple uses for us and wildlife. It’s also not as easy as buying a bag of bird seed from the supermarket. Bird friendly plants can be planted in good view of the house. For example, I have a yew tree right next to my kitchen window which allows me to observe berry-eating species such as blackcap, waxwing, robin, fieldfare, redwing and blackbird to within 1m! 
I think we should also consider delaying putting out commercial bird food until weather really is severe. 

1. Waxwings in slow motion – notice what happens with the rowan berry in the second sequence in the first video:

2. Only the second time I’ve seen goldfinches on chicory:

3. Waxwings on guelder rose berries with bramblings