cold weather at 70*N

Subject: cold weather at 70*N
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Mon, 01 Jun 1998 14:32:38 +0200


Last time I reported on spring in and around Tromsø, N.Norway, I ended
with: it needs only a few warm days. that, unfortunately is still tha case,
as the wind keeps obstinately northerly, and teperatures scarcely ever
reach 40*F. the rowans seem to have "frozen" halfway through their leafing,
and the birches are still bare. The fields stilll have that unlovely
"late-winter-look" mostly, and the only fresh flowers that have sprung are
a few Marsh Marigolds Caltha palustris is southerly-exposed ditches; but
these should have been everywhere by now!

Also the birds feel the cold. At Tisnes the Arctic terns have left the
colony again, and the Ruffs use considerably more time foreging than
displaying. on Saturday a loose flock of at least 100 Ringed Plovers gave
me a lot of pleasure (especially as it contained at least 2 Little Stints,
as well as a number of Dunlins), but it was another sign of the lateness of

Yesterday I drove once more to the Balsfjord, seeing of course roughly the
same things as before. At Sagelvvatn the ice was still there, but the leads
were a bit bigger than last time, and the resident pairs of Horned Grebes
had returned. most leads now had a pair oor two of ducks: Tufted Ducks,
Goldeneyes, and Red-throated Mergansers, and many Common Sandpipers
teetered on the ice.
In Prestvannet, the little shallow tarn on top of Tromsøya, virtually all
the ice had gone, and the Common Gulls, Arctic terns, Mallards and Tufted
ducks had all returned to the nesting colonies. No less than three pairs of
Red-throated loons lazed on the tarn, probably the displays will remove two
of them, as the tarn (4 m deep, and ca 1 mile in circumference is probably
not big enough to hold more than one pair. still, they seem to become more
accustomed to people every season: one pair slept unconcernedly less than
10 m from the busy footpath, that runs around the entire lake!

Arctic loons need larger lakes. I found one pair on a still half-frozen
lake this Sunday, but in the larger Rostadvannet in the inland, where
spring had come still shorter, and the meadows were full of Golden Plovers,
the ice still reigned almost supreme, and I had in fact to turn around
halfways, as the secondary dirt road was closed off by an avalanche, not a
big, nor a very fresh one, but impossible for my SAAB to get across anyway.

In Folkeparken the Willow warblers still have nor arrived, although I heard
a few singing males in the inland yesterday, and I searched in vain for
singing Bluethroats. And no Cuckoo, no swallows, no Sedge Warblers, no
Spotted Flycatchers. there is a lot still to come; it only needs a few
warmer days!

                                                Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum
                                                9037 Tromsø, Norway

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