Today was one of those fantastic winter days with blue skies, no wind, snow covered trees and without it being too cold. I just went for a walk in the forest but it wasn’t a completely random walk. A Hawk Owl had been seen in the forest west of Maridalen at the weekend.
It was right by what is perhaps the most popular cross country ski track in Oslo (and therefore perhaps also in Norway which would consequently make it the most popular ski track in the World Ever!) which goes from Sognsvann to Ullevålseter. I didn’t tie some long sticks to my legs but instead walked in from Maridalen which was an easy walk with the snow in the forest being no deeper than 15cm.
I tried to find Pygmy Owl on the way with no joy and a few tits and a single Great Spotted Woodpecker were the only birds that revealed themselves. When I reached the (frozen) lake by which the owl had been seen I walked out on the ice into the middle of the lake and then scanned the treetops around the lake and bingo! A Hawk Owl with a couple of Nutcrackers keeping it company. It was quite a walk to the owl and I went into the forest to try to come closer to it.
It proved very difficult to locate the owl. I found five Nutcrackers and a Jay that were sitting on tree tops alarm calling but it took 10 minutes to actually find the owl. These were my first Nutcrackers of the year and I have never before found so many in the winter months. The live a very anonymous life in the forests around Oslo and clearly we need more Hawk Owls to make them show themselves!
I didn’t see many tracks in the snow from rodents but there clearly are a lot here if the owl has stayed loyal to this area for at least three days. This is also promising for Tengmalm’s Owl which I will soon go searching for (although a quick trip around Maridalen just after dark yesterday did not reveal a single owl of any species).
Simon Rix is an English Birder who has lived in Oslo, Norway since 2001. Birding has been his passion since primary school and after an education as an economist and career within oil and gas and then drinks industry he turned his attention full time to birds as middle age approached. He is particularly interested in patch birding and migration and is an active guide, blogger and photographer. He is a member of the Norwegian Rarities Committee (NSKF).
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