A female blackcap (munk) was feeding on rowan berries below the house this morning. I see blackcaps a few times every winter nowadays, an increasingly common overwintering bird, thanks to artificial feeding and berries in gardens. They even manage to overwinter at close to 70 degrees north in Tromsø. The map shows all the January observations of blackcaps in Norway in January. Remember that there is only twilight in Tromsø at that time of year. There’s even one observation of a bird sitting in a rowan tree, illuminated by xmas lights, eating the berries and singing on 6th January 2018!
A much better video taken the day after. This bird was catching insects. Right at the end a second female arrives…I hadn’t noticed this at the time!
Great excitement this morning! I noticed a flock of birds from my desk that landed in a rowan tree. My first impression was fieldfares (gråtrost) and waxwings (sidensvans) but neither seemed quite right! Through binoculars I saw immediately they were pine grosbeaks (konglebiter) which are large finches! Rowan berries are their preferred winter food A new species for my garden, adding weight to my theory that if you wait long enough they will come to you! This was the species I had most wanted to see and had been looking out for them as there is a big invasion on in my area! I managed to get a very short video from which the two still pictures are taken before the whole flock (27) flew off westwards, the biggest number ever recorded in Malvik Kommune :)
A “slightly” better picture of these beauties from Wikicommons (Ron Knight from Seaford, East Sussex, United Kingdom):
Unusually large numbers of thrushes, mainly fieldfare (gråtrost), redwings (rødvingetrost) and a few blackbirds (svarttrost) in the garden at the moment, mainly on the rowans (wild and planted for the birds) and apples (need to harvest earlier than normal this year).
This year is a bumper year for rowans near the fjord, but poor a little inland due probably to frosts which didn’t affect us! Late frost at the time of fruit flowering iis very unusual where I am near the fjord (due to a combination of warmth from the fjord and the fact that there isn’t night at this time!). This has concentrated thrushes near the fjord where the food is!
Large flocks of noisy (in the positive sense) thrushes in the garden this morning. A flock of a 100 or so fieldfares (gråtrost) and a few redwings (rødvingetrost), song heard again today, were feeding on rowan berries, most of the birds lifting at the end of this video. At the same time there was visible migration happening. I counted a continuous stream of some 200 birds in 10 minutes moving westwards! A few waxwings (sidensvans) have also arrived. Yes, rowans are a must have in the garden although I don’t use them much myself.
How DO they make up those scientific names? A small group of waxwings (sidensvans) in the garden with 4 hawfinches (kjernebiter) provided entertainment (distraction) this afternoon….waxwings are berry eaters (e.g. the flesh of rowans / rogn) and hawfinches eat hard tree and fruit seeds (also rowan, eating what the waxwings disgard!)
I try to “grow” as much food for birds as possible in my garden. This includes leaving some fruit, planting various species of rowan (Sorbus), not tidying the garden until late winter, so that, for example, seed of nettles and burdock is available for finches. I also don’t feed the birds with bought in sunflower seeds until it gets properly cold, until then there’s plenty of natural food available. There’s nowadays a large acreage put down to non-organic production of bird seed in other countries which is certainly detrimental to birdlife in those countries and there is evidence that providing bird seed during the breeding season can have a negative effect on some species! So, is feeding birds a good thing or just for our entertainment? A bit of both I think!
Hawfinch and waxwings towards the end…taken from the living room /office!
2. Waxwing on apple. It was a bad rowan berry year and there are unusually few waxwings around (perhaps good news for an invasion further south, e.g., in the UK?). This is one of the apples I left for the birds…the video was taken from the living room!
Apple trees in full bloom are a wonderful sight, aren’t they? I’ve seldom seen so many flowers on them as this and the rowans are also flowering well which probably means that the apple tree moth (rognebærmøll), which prefer rowans, will keep off the apples this year! (here’s a page about the moth http://ukmoths.org.uk/species/argyresthia-conjugella )