#388 and #389 at the Oslo Botanical Gardens

This morning Beth and I returned to the Munch Museum. We got there a little before it opened at 10:00 A.M. so I scanned the trees in the nearby Botanical Gardens, most of which were full of berries. I saw some birds I didn’t recognize flitting through the trees. They were about Robin-sized or a little smaller (American Robin, that is) and seemed to have dark tails and white underwings. That was with the naked eye. Once I got my binoculars on them, each looked very much like an immature American Robin. That could only be one thing: a Fieldfare!

Fieldfare with berries

I was tempted to go straight to the gardens right then, but the museum was opening so we went inside instead. If you haven’t seen it, it’s worth seeing. There’s a lot more to Munch than the one famous painting (not on display right now while it’s restored after the burglary a few years ago though there is a pastel version hanging in its place) but almost all of Munch’s work strikes me as deeply creepy. If you can judge by his paintings, Munch was seriously disturbed if talented, man. In the entire exhibition of over 100 paintings and drawings, I’d say maybe four would not get you committed.

The museum is small so we exited about an hour later and walked around the gardens. We spotted several now familiar birds: Wood Pigeon, Magpie, White Wagtail, Great Tit, and House Sparrow.

Three Eurasian Tree Sparrows in the grass, Oslo Botanical Gardens

Wait a minute: some of those House Sparrows looked a little funny. Do House Sparrows have big black spots on their cheeks? I almost missed this one, but fortunately I checked the field guide. Right next to House Sparrow, I found Tree Sparrow a similar but different species and my sixth life bird this trip. Once I realized they were out there, I saw several dozen at various locations later in the day. Possibly I’ve seen them before, and just never noticed that they weren’t quite House Sparrows.

After walking around the grounds, we visited the Zoological and Geological Museums, also on the garden grounds. They’re both interesting, if you’re in the neighborhood, though neither is worth a trip on its own. Both are mostly for schoolchildren. Exhibit tags are in Norwegian only. This is the first museum I’ve been to in a while (possibly ever) that did not find it necessary to add English subtitles. I guess they don’t get a lot of tourist traffic.

We ate lunch at the Munch Museum cafe and took the subway to Nydalen to explore the Akerselva River. This is listed as one of Oslo’s birding hot spots, but today wasn’t a great day. We saw many of the same birds, plus a few Mallards and gulls, but didn’t add anything new for the trip. Later I also tried walking upstream from downtown, and found a few more gulls and Mallards, as well as the local drug dealer population, but otherwise it wasn’t very interesting.

Bird wise that’s probably it for this trip. The conference starts tomorrow, and the speaker’s dinner is tonight. Maybe if they invite me back next year, I can get to the Sognsvann, the Østensjøvannet Wildlife Refuge, and the Marka forest. I’m sorry I didn’t make any of those destinations this year, but I did get to see some cool spots closer in.

Tomorrow I’ll try and live blog from the conference on Cafe au Lait. Regular updates resume next week.

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