FW: First birds of 2018

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Subject: FW: First birds of 2018
From: Willem Jan Marinus Vader <>
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2018 14:12:48 +0000
Van:  <> namens Willem Jan 
Marinus Vader  [sabirdnet] <>
Verzonden: maandag 1 januari 2018 14:37
Aan: Birding-Aus; Birdchat ; sabirdnet
CC: ; ; ; 

Onderwerp: [sabirdnet] First birds of 2018

First birds of 2018 at 70*N

Tromsø, at 70*N in northern Norway, has had a wonderful Christmas week: snow, 
clear cold (but not too cold) winter weather, and now and then spectacular 
northern lights. It looked quite ominous the weeks before Christmas, as  strong 
southwesterly winds and lots of rain removed most of the snow. But once more 
the weather turned just in time; 23 December it started snowing, and now we 
have again some 2 ft of fresh snow on the ground, and we have had an uncommonly 
stable winter week. The paths are somewhat slippery, but we walk with 
'brodder', spikes under our soles, and then it is little problem.

What IS a problem for birding mid winters here is of course the dearth of 
daylight: we have only some for a few hours in the middle of the day, and the 
sun won't be back until late January. And in my garden, where many trees have 
been removed, there are hardly any birds now in winter. On the positive side, 
the Rowans (Mountain Ash, Sorbus aucuparia), a very common tree here, has had a 
bumper crop in 2017, and that has not only attracted the usual Bohemian 
Waxwings and Pine Grosbeaks, but also caused the Fieldfares, a very common 
nesting bird here, to postpone their southern migration, and there are large 
flocks everywhere.

Of course we were not early on New Year's day, and it would not helped much 
either, as it is dark until 11 am, even on a clear winter day as today. Most 
years, the first bird of the year is either a Hooded Crow or a Magpie, but this 
year an overflying Great Black-backed Gull grabbed the honour. The magpies came 
in second , the crows only as nr 4, as in between, while we prepared for a 
short walk, a single Pine Grosbeak flew over.

Riet and I walked in Folkeparken, a remnant birch forest with lots of planted 
spruce between our house and Tromsø Museum (so I have walked this path more 
than 40 years already!). Also here there are Rowans, and thus Fieldfares, but 
among them we found a single European Blackbird, one of the bird species slowly 
expanding northwards (Others are the Blue Tit, the Woodpigeon and the European 
Robin.); there was one last New Year also. Two of our most common winter birds, 
a Great Tit and a Greenfinch, let themselves be heard here, but a greater 
surprise awaited us a bit further on, where a small streamlet still ran in 
spite of the frost. Riet discovered a small bird fossicking along the  banks, 
the only place not snow-covered, and to my surprise this turned out to be a 
Redwing! This is maybe our most common thrush in summer, but this is the first 
time I have seen one here mid winters---no doubt the Rowan berries are also 
here the culprit.

We walked down to the sound: beautiful views to snow-covered mountains and the 
golden glow of the southerly skies, but the water was too choppy to find many 
birds , so the only one getting on the list were the ubiquitous Eider ducks. 
Still, 10 birds all in all! It may no seem like many to you, but it is one of 
the largest New Year's Day lists I have ever had!

I use the opportunity to wish you all a healthy, happy and harmonious 2018, 
full of nature! And please don't look ONLY at the BIRDS!

Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway

Posted by: Willem Jan Marinus Vader <>
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