from your antipodes

Subject: from your antipodes
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Tue, 09 Jun 1998 14:35:09 +0200



Usually spring here in northern Norway arrives late, but with a bang! Some
nice warm day in late May suddenly everything explodes into green and
flowers, and because of the 24 hours sunlight things develop even quicker.
But this year, even after a winter with little snow and a mild April,things
are different. For  most of May and all this first week of June the winds
have been northerly, the weather grey and wet, and the temperature in the
forties; yesterday for the first time we reached 10*C (=50*F), but today we
are back in the low forties.I heard about a little girl asking her father:
Is summer over already?

After an early start, everything more or less froze (only metaphorically,
fortunately): the Rowans remained half in leaf, and the birches and willows
mostly bare. The Willow Warblers Phylloscopus trochilus remained very
scarce even two weeks after the first birds had been heard, and the Pied
Flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca sang even more than usually, because the
always later arriving females were delayed.

But spring can not be stopped and slowly slowly the birches are turning
green and the forest is now full of the bittersweet clear cadences of the
Wood Warblers. This year we also have got the pleasure of an influx of
European Robins Erithacus rubecula, another wonderful songster, sounding as
though he plays a narrow crystal flute, where the sounds have to force
their way through. so the quality of the morning chorus to our human ears
has increased enormously the last few weeks. The Robins probably profit
from the aging of the many spruce-plantations, in the same way that the
greenfinches have done, but this year there are more than ever here on the

Many gardens are by now a riot of colours, but in the birchwood things
develop slowly this year, and there are still no other flowers than the
Coltsfoot and here and there the first Marsh Marigolds Caltha palustris.
For a while the bottom looked almost prehistoric, with the many
bronze-green "minarets" of horsetails and the unfolding fronds of large
ferns absolutely dominating. But now the leaves of many of the common wood
plants are unfolding and the many green stalks of the Herb Paris Paris
quadrifolia unfold their (inverted) four-leafed umbrellas.

Yesterday I saw a Starling fly with food in his beak, and today even one of
 the Oystercatchers that nest on the roof of the TV-building, flew with a
worm. So although spring is very slow to sneak in here north this year and
the weather forecast talks only about more of the same for the week to
come, spring can not be stopped altogether. (And this weather has the great
advantage that the mosquitos are no problem at all!)

                                                Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum
                                                9037 Tromsø, Norway

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