Bits of Norway 1. Snåsa

Subject: Bits of Norway 1. Snåsa
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Wed, 27 Jun 2001 15:44:55 +0200

                                GLIMPSES OF A TRIP THROUGH NORWAY. 1. SNÅSA     

This summer Riet and I decided to combine a visit to my three children, by
now spread out over the country, with a leisurely drive back to Tromsø,
concentrating on the coastal parts of Helgeland, the southern part of
Nordland province (ca 65-67*N) which she had never seen. So I drove my
trusty 21 yrs old Saab along the main roads (ca 1400 km) down to
Kristiansund on the coast at ca 64*N, where my son Jan lives, while Riet
arrived there by plane directly from her home in Holland. We used a bit
more than 2 weeks over the return drive, usually staying two nights at one
place (either in the handy camping cabins that abound in Norway, or in a
'rorbu', the dwellings originally used by fishermen directly on the coast),
before moving on. We had chilly rainy weather all first week, but it
suddenly changed halfways through, and the second week we had glorious
summer weather, with easterly winds, when it always feels much warmer than
it really is; there is little that surpasses a N.Norwegian summer!!

In the following I shall give a few snapshots of places where we stopped,
finishing up finally (if time allows--I leave for a month in Australia on
Monday) with a slightly annotated list of the birds we have seen during the
trip---ca 100 birds, 'without really trying'. Thanks to Ole Post's
wonderful annotated catalogue of Danish birds recently many of these birds
will now be a little more familiar to you.


Snåsavannet is one of Norway's larger lakes, with a length of more than 40
km, although it is not very deep (up to 125m). It is situated in mid
Norway, east of Trondheim and at only 23m a.s.l. earlier was part of the
large Trondheimsfjord, that penetrates far into the interior of the country
. The districts around the Trondheimsfjord are prime agricultural country,
with much wheat being grown (possibly one of the most northerly
wheat-growing areas in the world), but away from the fjord this is mainly a
landscape of hills, forest and bogs, with spruce often dominating, and as
such quite exotic for me and altogether different from the situation in
N.Norway, and more like Finland than like my native Tromsø.

Riet and I stopped over for two nights in rooms directly on the shore of
lake Snåsa, under looming rocks (called 'villa Grotto'!); because of the
persistent rain of the last weeks the water level is very high, and all
rivers and brooks are also filled to bursting. From our windows we look out
over a small stone pier, built when the railway was constructed here some
70 yrs ago, and meticulously kept mowed as a lawn by our landlord. There
are always birds on this 'lawn': an oystercatcher sits on three eggs near
the end, and otherwise 2 pairs of Redshanks, 2 pairs of Common Sandpipers
and one pair of Pied Wagtails also have their territories there (The high
water probably has taken some nests), while several pairs of Tufted Ducks
forage and loaf nearby. Clearly no breeding there!

Nearby bights also hold several pairs of Slavonian (Horned) Grebes (and
these do breed), and of course Common Gulls are ubiquitous. Ploughed fields
yield Northern Lapwings, scattered Golden Plovers and a small flock of
Whimbrels, and in the still unseasonally short wheat fields (spring is very
late this year) we discover not only a Roedeer, but even a Common Crane,
stalking briskly along, so that its small chick has to hurry to keep up.

Like everywhere in mid Norway these weeks,  the flowers of white Anemones
Anemone nemorosa are ubiquitous, along the roads as well as in the forest,
while dandelions take over on the road verges among the fields and Caltha
in the wettest areas. Copses of mainly alder and willows along the lake
shore harbour many song birds: Chaffinches, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs,
Fieldfares and Redwings dominate, but there are also regularly European
Robins, Song Thrushes, European Blackbirds, Pied Flycatchers, Blackcaps,
Siskins, Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers, here happily still common (They
have decreased badly all over Europe). In the fields Fieldfares, Meadow
Pipits and Pied Wagtails are everywhere, and the farms hold Starlings and
here and there also House Sparrows.

The locals have arranged a beautiful 'natursti' (nature path), skilfully
winding its way through the bogs and the forested hills and meandering
brooks of the area---the path has been most cunningly designed to give a
maximum of variety. In this wet and chilly weather boots are an absolute
necessity here, but we have come prepared and have no major problems, in
fact so greatly enjoying the walk that we almost forget the rain. In the
boggy areas  white cotton-grass and pink Andromeda are in flower, while in
the forest proper all sorts of heathery plants compete with the white
anemones and Oxalis, and the differently coloured violets of marshy and
loamy patches.

Birds there are not so very many here, mostly again Redwing, Chiffchaff,
Willow Warbler, and in the spruce European Robins with their silvery
cascades. But there is always something new to find: a dark-headed
thunbergi Yellow Wagtail alarms shrilly from a lone pine-tree in a bog, a
very typical habitat for this northern race, a Tree Pipit sings and does
his parachute flight elsewhere, a pair of Bullfinches are surprised in a
patch of pines, and from our 'lunch-hill' we watch an as usual unafraid
Spotted Flycatcher, as Lars Jonsson so aptly expressed it, 'move seriously
and elegantly' in pursuit of its prey. Cuckoos still regularly call the
hours; acc. to tradition they should stop calling at St. Hans (23 June) and
this is still a few days before that date.

On the way back, along a muddy logging track, we suddenly chance upon a
shimmering mass of gold: a large flowering patch of the wonderful
Chrysosplenium; it is always a miracle to me how a plant with such small
flowers can make such a great impression, but it works every time!

This story would not be complete without mentioning the 'Bølarein', a 4000
yrs old life-size rock-carving of a reindeer, most impressively situated
alongside a greatly swollen brook near the lakeshore. Norway has many of
these rock carvings and we were to watch quite a number in the days ahead;
but it is only the older ones that are so big and naturalistic.

                                                                Wim Vader, 
Tromsø Museum
                                                                9037 Tromsø, 

Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Bits of Norway 1. Snåsa, Wim Vader <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU