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|A Report from birdtours.co.uk|
Owls in Norway, March 2014 ,
Owls are one of my favorite groups when it comes to birds, and especially clear nights when the stars are shining bright and the owls are doing their magic. Therefore i contacted Eirik Grønningsæter (guide and photographer www.wildnature.no ) and wanted to know if he could join me for a trip for special target species as Great Grey Owl and Ural Owl. He said he could help me, and there. We were on our way to the forests in eastern parts of Norway to chase these magnificent birds.
Eirik has been birding for over twenty five years and is a respected photographer, but also a magnificent guide. He know where and how to get around to go birding. On a trip his experience, skills and knowledge could be what you need to get to the birds.
Getting around - Car
Night 1 - After a six hour drive from where we live we were finally starting to come off the highway and in to the forest and some more muddy roads. Already on the first stop we got out of the car. Both standing there, quiet as a man can be. Nothing. Suddenly after maybe 10 minutes, we heard some woofing sounds in the forest. With a steady rhythm. A Great Grey Owl was trying to impress other rivals or his wife. At least he impressed us! The Great Grey Owl has always been a dream of mine to get to know, and the feeling that it was just sitting maybe 100 meters from where we stood was a great feeling.
After we got our breath back, we went on for the other target species. Eirik and his experience was again good to have, and he knew where to go. Though Ural Owls can be difficult as they often stay quiet, we had our hopes up after the previous owl experience. But birding is not always as easy as it sometimes seem to be. After driving, listening, driving and listening again the Ural Owl would not make any sounds. The clock was ticking and we had to get on, and we went on the whole night - we heard some Tengmalm Owls and just gazed at the sky. A beautiful night, but the Ural Owl was clear in our minds.
Day 1 - The woods are endless. Todays plan in daytime we were driving around trying to spot the Great Grey Owl, and maybe some other species in the forests. We saw several Black Woodpecker, one Three-toed Woodpecker, 10-12 Black Grouse, Crested Tit and some Jays. The undoubtedly highlight was a Great Grey Owl flying across the car in front of us. We used an hour to try and find it again, but it was nowhere to be found. A wonderful day, and then we drove to a place where Eirik knew some Eagle Owls have been breeding for some years. And we got some sleep waiting for the night to come...
Night 2 - nighttime - As the day was starting to go to night we went on to a place where Eirik knew there was a pair of Eagle Owls who had been breeding for many years. And the plan did not fail. As the light was about to fade away some unmistakable hooting was heard. Another great species to the list! But the Ural Owls from last night were not forgotten. As the Eagle Owl was been ticked off the list, we had to go again and try for the Ural Owl, who are a rare bird in Noway. Not many pairs are breeding, and it is a difficult species to get. This night we were a little bit earlier than last night - and maybe it helped. After just 5-10 minutes of waiting we heard some wonderful sounds. Some of the coolest owl sounds i have ever heard. The male was hooting off, and the female was making some contact sounds as well! What an experience!!
But we had not forgotten the Great Grey Owl we had spotted in daytime, and we had to go back and check if it was making some sounds in the night. And «our» owl was indeed singing in the forests close to where we spotted it. Cool! Also some Tengmalm Owls were heard this night.
Day 2 - Up early again, and trying to find the Great Grey Owl where we had seen and heard it. But its difficult to find owls in daytime at this time of year. We just have to hope it gets a female partner and makes some chicks, hopefully it will be seen hunting in the daytime when the eggs have hatched. This was the day we were going to get back to our hometown, but we used some hours in the forest before we left. Some cool species as Hazel Grouse, Black Woodpecker, Hawk Owl and Pygmy Owl was spotted. The Pygmy owl was very photogenic and we got some cool pictures of this charming little guy.
All in all a fantastic trip, where i really got what i asked for. Thanks Eirik!
Target species on the trip:
Great Grey Owl