A new year, and I wish all of you a happy, healthy and harmonious 2004.
practically always, the first bird of the year was also this year one of
the magpies from the neighbour garden, followed during the short window of
twilight here at 70*N, by a Hooded Crow, a passing Great Tit, and a male
Bullfinch, located by its soft interrogative whistle.
The Christmas week this year has been a time of full winter, although
too much snow (maybe 2 feet on the ground), mostly beautiful calm winter
weather, and now and then the miracle of the shimmering curtains of the
Aurora Borealis. It is a time to make up your year list for the year past:
Two new palaearctic life birds, both in Tunisia: The droll White-headed
duck and the jewel-like Moussier's Redstart. And of course a few more
during my month in Latin America in October, where the Yellow-winged
Blackbirds of Coquimbo, the Skimmers on a nearby beach, the skimming Red
Shovelers of the Bahia Encerrada in Ushuaia, and the two contrasting
islands in the Falklands: the tussac island Kidney island with its Cobb's
wrens and Tussac birds, and the bird paradise Saunders island with its four
different penguins, its albatrosses, its sheatbills and Johhny Rooks, all
were among the absolute highlights.
But generally I enjoy the common birds and their behaviour as much as
rarities that now and then come my way, and the not all that diverse
birdlife up here at 70*N is fully as dear to me as the birds of more exotic
venues. Although I must admit, that the fare these first few months of the
year, with its very short days (the sun won't be back for at least three
weeks as yet) and its maybe no more twenty potential different birds to
see, are not always the most fascinating period birdwise. But the 'dark
light of winter Tromsø' is in itself a fantastic compensation, and
personally I think much more impressive than the famous midnight sun! And
the months seem to run past ever faster.
Happy birding in 2004!
Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum
9037 Tromsø, Norway
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