Fwd: first snow at 70*N

Subject: Fwd: first snow at 70*N
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 11:15:09 +0200

Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2001 11:13:35 +0200
To: birdchat
From: Wim Vader <>
Subject: first snow at 70*N

(69*50' N)

After a wonderful calm and mild Indian summer for several weeks the
weather changed quite suddenly a few days ago here in Tromsø, an island
town surrounded by marine sounds and quite high hills (500-1200m). Because
of the relatively snow-poor winter last year and the mild autumn there was
uncommonly little snow in the hills last week, and in fact I only could
see a single small patch from my office window; but that changed quickly
three days ago. The first day the hills turned white above 400m, with a
chilly rain in town, the second day the rain here turned to sleet and the
snow crept down the slopes to ca 150m, and yesterday the sleet turned to
snow also in town, so that this morning we all awoke to a few inches af
fresh snow and slippery roads; that change catches us unawares almost
every fall, and few people have changed to the studded-tired 'winter
wheels' on their car in time.

Temperatures still hover around the freezing point, and the ground is as
yet unfrozen, so there is no ice on the many puddles, and the snow quickly
turns into what we call 'slaps', a wonderfully onomatopeic word for this
half-melted slushy mass. As many of the trees, bushes and tall herbs are
still green and full of leaves, they bow low under the wet snow, and
walking along the narrow path through Folkeparken I feel like a car among
the brushes of a washing street.

The Folkeparken, normally so silent this time of year, this morning was
full of movements and sounds. Hundreds of thrushes, Fieldfares and
Redwings, scoot around , no doubt prior to fleeing south (never mind all
the rowanberries!), and adrenalin flows so copiously that several of the
redwings even burst into song. The flocks of tits are infected and more
lively than normally, and everywhere one hears the hoarse winter call of
the Bramblings, that gove the bird its Dutch name: 'kèèp' (As I said
before, the Dutch language---and the Afrikaans as well---is for some
unfathomable reason extra rich in onomatopeic bird names. Because the
names were coined by the people themselves, and not by a committee of
high-ranked ornithologists??). On the fjord the Eiders share in the
excitement, and I hear a lot of their cooing.

We have, together with the rest of NW Europe , also got an invasion of
Great Spotted Woodpeckers here north, although not in the numbers seen
further south in Scandinavia. Because of the bumper crop of Rowanberries
this autumn, we also hope for Waxwings and maybe even Pine Grosbeaks later
this fall. The days will now rapidly shorten, though, and within two
months the sun will set for two months of mørketiden, 'the dark season'.
By then snow will be most welcome to help lighten up the surroundings; but
now we would not have minded at all to have to wait for some more weeks
for 'the white stuff'.

Tromsø, 27 Sept. 2001

Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum

9037 Tromsø, Norway

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