Fjords and lakes around Tromsø

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Fjords and lakes around Tromsø
From: "Vader Willem Jan Marinus" <>
Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2009 13:30:35 +0200


Tromsø has still northerly winds and one-digit (in Centigrade)
temperatures, but at least it does not rain all the time anymore, and
there has been less wind these last days. So on Saturday I had a few short
trips to Rakfjord on Kvaløya and to the airport wetlands here on Tromsøya,
and yesterday I did a longer drive along the long Balsfjord south of here,
and further south around the lakes Sagvatnet, Takvatnet and Rostadvatnet,
the latter not all that far from the Swedish border.

Rakjord was of course as I had seen and described it last week. As last
time, there was hardly any display by the here so common Whimbrels, Snipe
and Golden Plovers, and the Short-eared Owl had also left. (There is a
traditional nesting area on Ringvassøy, the next island to the north). At
the airport I admired the wonderful view of hundreds of the tiny
violet-flowered Finnmark Primula almost on the path, and had the pleasant
surprise to find a pair of alarming Temminck Stints, a species I had
thought we had lost as a nesting bird on the island. And at the museum we
got in a lively Hawk Owl, that people had saved from pestering crows in
town; I guess it may have collided with a window or some such before. It
is definitely not a city bird normally!

The hill forest at Andersdalen, the place I always visit, is now at its
best, with also here lots of twinkling yellow violets Viola biflora---one
of my absolute favourite flowers---on the road verges, and Marsh Marigolds
Caltha in the ditches. Further away from  the road, white takes over for
yellow; it is here mostly represented by Stellaria graminea, but I also
already saw the first 'stars' of the Sevenstar Trientalis europaea.
(Sevenstar is the Dutch name, which I much prefer to the english Chickweed
Wintergreen), a species that will become very very common later in the
summer. Stern batallions of the Ostrich Wing ferns Struthiopteris, with
their all-of-their-own yellow-green colour, stand marched up in attention,
and cover large areas, and the wild Raspberries add still another shade of
green. And now there is a real bird chorus, even it is after nine am, when
I arrive, and even though the first nesters, such as the various tits, the
Chiffchaff and the Dunnock, are by now largely silent. Chaffinches also
arrive early, but they are irrepressible and sing all the time anyway,
even during the intense rain showers, when most other songbirds shut up
for a while. I have the impression that that are more Chaffinches here now
than f. ex. 25 years ago (they are now also regulars in my garden, where I
never saw them before), just as I think that there are more Blackbirds
nowadays here. This species is here still the shy forest bird that it used
to be also further south in Europe, a far cry from the Blackbirds nowadays
in W. Europe. They are lovely songsters, though! The common thrushes here
are the Fieldfare (more a scolder than a songster) and the 'multicultural'
Redwing. This adjective jumps out of my computer, and may seems misplaced.
What I mean is that the redwing is very much a dialect songster, and the
birds from Andersdalen sound quite different from the ones in Folkeparken
on Tromsøya, maybe 30 km away, as the Redwing flies (50 km by road). But
these last years there are both places quite a number of songsters that
sound 'different still'; in additon I seem to note a gradual change in the
dominant song phrases here around my house, with the ascending virri Virri
Virri , that was so characteristic here, heard less and less often. I
wonder where the Redwings pair up; maybe in the wintering areas, where
pairs from different provenances mix?  And how do the birds themselves
evaluate the different dialects  that they now hear around them?

There are also a few Song Thrushes here, but far more Willow Warblers and
Bramblings, and this time surprisingly many Garden Warblers, with their
'stream of conscience' melodious babble. I also hear one unmistakable
Blackcap with its much more emphatic song strophe, this is a southern
species that somehow does not seem able to establish itself here at 70*N;
just as 30 years ago, there are only the odd singing males, and not even
every year. A Common Redstart is also a surprise; this bird is much more
reguloar in coniferous forest. As always, Ravens croak from the cliffs

At the next stop I add Shelducks and Ringed Plovers to the day list, and
find that all the nestboxes here have been taken over by the Pied
Flycatcher, which no doubt have ousted the tits that I saw here earlier
this year. A very pleasant surprise here is a Spotted Flycatcher on top of
a spruce. This species is not rare here, but as they do not really sing,
they are very easy to overlook and I don't see them every year.

The next stop is the hills at Heia (c 250 a.s.l., and with snow banks
still in evidence), where there is a coffee shop and a Saami exhibition
tent along the highway. More people here every year therefore, and this
may be one of the reasons that the Bluethroat, that I always came to enjoy
here (they are wonderful songsters) was seemingly absent today. The
Nordic Yellow Wagtail (thunbergi) was still present, though. Sagvannet,
the shallow  lake between Heia and the Balsfjord, is now of course
completely ice-free, and the ducks and grebes have stread out over the
entire  lake and are much harder to find (in fact I don't see ant Horned
Grebes at all here, though I come across them later in the day). But a
group of 8 ardent male Goldeneyes throngs around the single female in the
bight where I park for a while; when she flies up, they all follow. Most
of these Goldeneyes nest in nestboxes in the forest, so it is a typical
inland bird here. There was also a largish mixed group of swallows over
the lake, not all that common here. Mostly Sand Martins (Bank Swallows),
but with also plenty of Barn Swallows and a good number of House Martins.
A local birder had seen and photographed a single Red-rumped Swallow, a
rarity here, some 50 km further south a few days ago.

In the inland, around Rodstadvannet, the landscape is quite different. The
mountains are large, rounded brooding blocks of rocks, and the valleys are
typical glacial valleys, with steep sides and flat bottoms. The woodland
here is mostly a mixture of birchwood and pine wood, with  Vaccinium
undergrowth. European Robins sing here, and the Song Thrush is many places
the dominant songster. I also hear still another thrush, the Ring Ouzel,
from the hillsides above. And I think I saw a Dipper, our National Bird,
flash by on the river; too briefly though to make its way on the day or
year list. Again, I have a birdlist, if anyone wants one, the mix is
noticeably different from last week, but again there are about 50 species
on the list.

Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum

9037 Tromsø, Norway

To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)
<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Fjords and lakes around Tromsø, Vader Willem Jan Marinus <=

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