Soldagen, the day of the sun

To: birding-aus <>, "Birdchat " <>, "" <>
Subject: Soldagen, the day of the sun
From: Willem Jan Marinus Vader <>
Date: Mon, 22 Jan 2018 09:59:43 +0000

Soldagen, the day of the sun
                     Yesterday, 21 January, is an important day every year in 
Tromsø, at 70*N in northern Norway. It is Soldagen (literally, the day of the 
sun; Sundays are called Søndag here), the first day when we can glimpse the sun 
again over the southern horizon for a little while, after two months of 
Mørketiden (the dark period , when the sun remains invisible all day). This 
last week we have had quite nice winter weather here in Tromsø, with 
temperatures of -8 to-10*C  (It is much colder in the inland, but we live on an 
island and not too far from the outer coast ). The first week of January we had 
quite a bit of snow, but then sadly came two days of milder weather and rain, 
with the result that all the minor roads and paths are ice-covered and 
extremely slippery, so that we have to walk around with 'brodder' (Spikes we 
bind under our soles, ice cleats?), at least when you are my age. Now the 
weather is really nice (albeit a bit windy often; my phone says, temp: -8*, 
feels like -19*), but we have not got fresh snow, which is a pity (Maybe 2 ft 
on the ground now).
                   There are not all too many land birds in Tromsø in winter. 
When I walk from my home to the museum, usually still in the dark, most days 
the only bird sounds I hear are the ubiquitous Hooded Crows and Magpies; I 
don't hear too well anymore, which does not help either. Now and then a pair of 
cozily discussing Ravens fly over, and there are often Great Tits around. They 
use to provide the first bird song of the year somewhere in January, but this 
year they were upstaged by a Greenfinch on 16 January, which once sang its 
somewhat peeved sounding trill at a feeding station. My year list had 'soared' 
all the way to 17 birds, with House Sparrow, Blue Tit and Willow Tit making it 
to the list this last week; a probably Sparrow Hawk dashed past too fast to be 
quite sure.
                   This year is special because of the bumper crop of Rowan 
(Mountain Ash Sorbus) berries; this has cause the Fieldfares, our most common 
thrush, usually migrating south in late October, to stay put and harvest this 
rich bonanza. I still regularly see flights of many tens of Fieldfares flying 
over, searching for the right trees---and there are still many berries left. 
Nor are they the only birds feasting on rowan berries. As each fall, we get 
flocks of Bohemian Waxwings (Unexpectedly, there are not more than usual this 
year) and smaller numbers of Pine Grosbeaks (And they ARE more prevalent this 
winter), and a few times I have also seen a European Blackbird, one of the more 
southerly bird species, that slowly make their way north and now can be found 
here (Blue Tit, Jay and European Robin are others)
                  The sun now will be up  more than 10 minutes longer every 
day, until at the spring equinox are days are just as long as yours, wherever 
you live. From 21 May we then enjoy 'the other side of the medal', i.e. two 
months of midnight sun.
               Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway
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