winter back to autumn at 70*N

Subject: winter back to autumn at 70*N
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Mon, 15 Oct 2001 13:45:34 +0200


After the early onset of winter that I wrote about several weeks ago, I
fled to Holland for a week; the departure was in fact delayed for an hour
or so by heavy snow showers. When I returned 10 days later, winter had
disappeared again on the island itself, and since then we have had
continuously mild weather (up to +10*C), so much so that even the hills
surrounding the town are now no longer snow-covered, but only pattterned
with snow drifts. The days get inexorably shorter, though, and I walk to
work in twilight already. The birches have lost all their leaves, so I now
can see the fjord again from my path through Folkeparken. The Rowans
(Mountains Ash) are also rapidly emptying for leaves these days---we had
some quite windy days, typical for this Atlantic mild type of weather---,
but some willows still glow golden during the intermittent sunny spells,
and the lawns reappeared still green from the first snow cover.

Birdwise this is a quiet period, dominated by the flocks of thrushes,
mostly Fieldfares, in the copious rowanberries; they also roam far up into
the hillsides, no doubt finding berries also there. As the leaves disappear
from the trees, so the tits and the Bullfinches become more conspicuous
again, and the small invasion of Great Spotted Woodpeckers still goes on.
In town the last few Common Gulls scavenge with the flock of feral pigeons
and the many Hooded Crows and House Sparrows, all profit from the feeding
of the pigeons. The Herring Gulls keep mostly to the quays, and most of the
Great Black-backed Gulls patrol the shore-line or harass the flocks of
eiders, while the first Glaucous Gulls of the winter have already arrived,
and also the voice of the Raven is again heard in town.

But all in all this is a quiet period. We hope for an invasion of Waxwings
and maybe even Pine Grosbeaks to our bumper crop of Rowanberries, but as
yet there are no signs of it. Nor have we until now seen any Siberian Tits
here on the island, although an invasion of this species seems to occur
into S.Finland. In our inland districts there is a dense population of
Lemmings just now and also here near the coast there are many rodents; so
we can hope for owls maybe, in winter or early spring. Hope springs eternally!

                                                                Wim Vader, 
Tromsø Museum
                                                                9037 Tromsø, 

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