Full, but cool, summer in Tromsø, N. NOrway

To: birding-aus <>, birdchat <>, "" <>, "," <>
Subject: Full, but cool, summer in Tromsø, N. NOrway
From: Vader Willem Jan Marinus <>
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2013 12:33:14 +0000
Northern Norway has had a somewhat uncommon summer: May and June were warm (by 
our standards) and dry here, while the rest of the country complained about 
rain and low temperatures. But around the end of June the situation changed 
completely: on 1 July we had 50mm of rain, and since then we have had only a 
single day without rain, while te maximum temperatures fell from the low 
twenties to 10-12*C.

But of course we still have summer (In fact, this weather is more common up 
here in summer than the warm spells of May-June). Now our two months of 
midnight sun are almost over (21 July the sun will go down again before 
midnight) and the roadside vegetation here on the island is dominated by the 
'Tromsø palms', giant Heracleum forbs, that may grow to 3-4m tall, with very 
large white flower stands (often full of flies). They were imported from Russia 
well over a century ago, and do almost too well here in town.

Otherwise the carpets of violet Cranebills Geranium in the woodlands and  white 
Cow Parsley Anthriscus in the meadows are rapidly fading now, the Dwarf Cornel 
Cornus suecica has exchanged its white flowers for red (insipid) berries, and 
in the ditches the violet Butterwort Pinguicula has made place for the 
beautiful 'innocent' flowers of the Grass of Parnassus Parnassia. Dominent now 
in the meadows and also in many woodlands are the tall creamy white flowers of 
the Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria (very popular with the bumblebees), while 
here and there there are dense and often extensive patches of the very 
conspicuous Rosebay (Fireweed) Chamerion angustifolium. Most patches, so 
conspicuous that they can easily be seen from a landing plane, are a vivid red 
violet, but a few are pink instead (the entire patch, makes one wonder how they 
reproduce and spread)

For birds this is not a very ideal season. There is no bird song anymore, most 
ducks are in eclipse and hide, and the migration of shorebirds has not yet 
started.(On two excursions, last Friday (the one day without rain) and this 
morning (in the rain) I failed to see a single Greylag Goose, a common nesting 
bird in the area, and today I did not even get a Mallard on the day list!) I 
drove to the often described wetlands of Tisnes, an agricultural low-lying 
peninsula some 30 km from Tromsø on the outlying large island of Kvaløya. The 
area consists of very wet meadows adjacent to the shore, with a few ponds that 
are often productive. The 'horse ponds', close to the road and used by the many 
horses of one of the local farms, have a very broad fringe of Marestail 
Hippuris vulgaris, with also stands of a species of Willow-herb Epilobium and 
Marsh Cinquefoil Potentilla palustris, with in spring lots of  golden Marsh 
Marigold Caltha. Here there were young Lapwings Vanellus, still a single Golden 
Plover (there were many more earlier), a couple of Ruffs and Reeves , and a few 
Redshank. Around the pond frolicked lots of mostly young White Wagtails, and 
above hunted Sand Martins (Bank Swallows). In the other. larger pool, further 
from the road, swam the great surprise of the day, a Ruddy Shelduck Tadorna 
ferruginea, a bird that does not belong in N. Norway at all and which I have 
never seen here before; I suppose we will never know whetherthis is a genuine 
vagrant or an escapee. A Wigeon walked past with 8 young and as everywhere here 
now, there are also  here young Eiderducks.

The chalk rich meadow here used to have a very diverse vegetation, but the 
horses have damaged the area quite a bit. Still, there are lots of flowers 
still, and I was much surprised to find some very late flowers of Purple 
Saxifrage, my harbinger of spring in N. Norway, as well as the very first 
flowers of Felwort Gentianella, usually one of the last flowers to come here. 
('Bien étonnés de se trouver ensemble'!). Aftre a long search I found a single 
plant of my favourite tiny fern Moonwort Bostrychium, for which I searched in 
vain last summer. Redshanks and Oystercatchers alarmed all the time I was 
there, and i also found a Curlew with large young. A young Garden Warbler was a 

The day list counted only 26 birds (just as last Friday on the other side of 
Kvaløya, although there with 9 different birds), but it is always good to get 
out in the field. Tell me, if there are too many plants in this stiry for a 
birding list!

                                                         Wim Vader, Tromsø 

Tromsø, Norway


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