Few year-birds in Tromsø, but one surprise
A week ago I sent a mail, complaining about a surfeit of weather here in
N.Norway these last weeks and telling that my 2017 year list now stood at all
of 5 birds. Since then we have had two more winter storms, rainy days followed
by snow and vice versa, with as a result often extremely slippery and icy
roads: a bus with youngsters on its way to a large handball tournament here in
Tromsø was blown off the road and capsized day before yesterday; fortunately no
one was seriously injured and they continued with another bus (It is a 6-7 hrs
trip from Alta) and played their matches!. But yesterday night we got 25 cm of
fresh snow and it is easier today to get around on foot (with 'brodder', extra
soles with studs, under my shoes), although for cars it clearly still is
dangerous (many minor accidents today). The temperature is around freezing, the
wind has abated some, and we have already clearly a bit more daylight than
around Christmas (2 weeks until the sun peeps above the horizon again for a
short while around noon).
My year-list has soared all the way up to 7 species. Number 6 was a flock of
House Sparrows (Common, but very patchy here), but nr 7 was a real surprise, a
male European Blackbird rummaging about in the snow near the museum this
morning. This is one more southern species that slowly is expanding northwards,
most probably a result of global warming. I have seen blackbirds (always
males) here once or twice in the last three winters, once even in my garden,
but only once before in the almost 40 years I have lived here. There ARE
blackbirds in the forest a bit south of here, where one hears the wonderful
song in spring; but there they are quite shy forest birds, just as they
probably were in most of Europe in earlier centuries.
The Blackbird is not the only newcomer here in Tromsø in the last years. Since
2 years I have quite regularly Blue Tits in my garden, and also the Jay is now
seen by many people and comes to feeders in the area. Once I even had a Winter
Wren in my garden, a bird that in this area normally only occurs, and very
sparingly, along the seabird colonies on the outer coast.
We also have got in a few birds, that earlier only occurred in the inland pine
forests a bit further south, such as the European Robin and the Wood Pigeon.
Both can be heard, although usually but for a short while, in spring in
Folkeparken, the woodland between my house and the museum.
So there is always change, and it is most interesting to follow this for many
years in one place.
Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway
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