#386 On a Boat

This morning Beth and I took a two-hour tour aorund the Oslo fjord, This one’s not nearly as impressive as the ones in the Western part of Norway you see in the pictures. Mostly it’s just a tour around various islands in the harbor, but there were a few birds.

Before we even left the dock we spotted numerous Rock Pigeons and Herring Gulls, no surprises there. However not half a klick out I spotted what I initially thought was a loon. It was a black and white bird lying low in the water with a largish bill, and had the classic loon winter pattern: black on top, white on bottom.

The problem with being on a non-birding boat though is that:

  1. No one else can help with the ID beyond “Duck” and “Seagull”, and they often aren’t right about those. (This bird was neither.)
  2. The captain won’t stop and swing the boat around so everyone can get a better look.

However, we did see multiples of these black-and-white birds throughout the trip, and although we never got really close to one, I did convince myself they weren’t loons. It was much too short and stubby for that. So what were they?

If it wasn’t a duck, loon, cormorant, or gull, the next obvious choice was alcid. Looking in my European field guide, there were several possibles in this location at this time of year, but only one matched the patterns I kept seeing: Common Guillemot.

I would have liked to have seen it closer, but unless someone local tells me something else it could have been, or that this bird just isn’t possible here this time of year, I’m going with Common Guillemot.

We saw several other species on the trip. Most numerous were Herring Gulls, followed by Great Cormorants. There were also several small flocks of from 2-12 Common Eiders. Occasional Lesser Black-backed Gulls mixed in with the Herring Gulls. I saw a couple of Hooded Crows and a couple of swans, though they were too far off to identify precisely. Probably just Mute Swans judging by location. Most frustratingly there was one little spit of land of an island that hosted a couple of dozen terns, the only terns I’ve seen so far this trip. However, the boat never got close enough for me to say more than that. There are two possibilities here: Common and Arctic and the former would be a life bird for me. That one may have to wait.

After we got off the boat, we ate lunch at Albertine’s (expensive like everything here but recommended) and added House Sparrow and Black-headed Gull to the day list. About 2:00 we boarded the #12 tram to Vigeland Park to see the statues and what birds we could find. More on that in the next post…

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