FW: The slooow growth of a year list

To: birding-aus <>, "Birdchat " <>, "" <>
Subject: FW: The slooow growth of a year list
From: Willem Jan Marinus Vader <>
Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2021 12:30:15 +0000



From: wim vader <>
Sent: lørdag 13. mars 2021 21:32
To: Willem Jan Marinus Vader <>
Subject: The slooow growth of a year list




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The slow growth of a year list; winter in covid Tromsø.


This year is different, as you all must have noticed.  Birding in Tromsø in mid winter is not overly productive at the best of times: there are few birds around, there is little daylight, and since a few years I do not use my car anymore in winter, which together with often slippery roads greatly limits my mobility.  Also, most years I go and visit my LAT-partner Riet in Holland early in the year (now impossible), and an hour in her garden usually yields as many birds as a week in winter Tromsø.

This year started out strange, as in early January we had frost but no snow, the first time in 50 years I have experienced this. Almost no birds come to my feeder now in winter; I fear there is too little shrubbery left and the birds feel too exposed. So the first days of January all I saw was Magpies and Hooded Crows, lots of magpies, by the way: I had up too 12 in the garden at the same time, and once counted 22 from my window. On 3 January I heard the conversational croaking of a pair of Ravens; they venture into town in Winter. At a house a bit down the road, where they always feed the birds and where there is usually a small flock of House Saparrows (not this January, though), there are often some of our feral pigeons, of which Tromsø has too many. Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls fly over now and then.

Around 10 January we got snow, and with a vengeance, almost a meter in a few days. Then a lone Great Tit visited my feeder, and I had the most surprising additions to my meagre year list. First a small flock of Bohemian Waxwings circled over the house, and the next day I surprised a few Pine Grosbeaks in a lone lark tree on the walk to the museum.

Then the weather changed again, and we had some quite fierce storms, and a lot of rain, making the roads and paths almost impossibly slippery. Also, covid restrictions hampered my mobility still further and for two weeks the year list was at a complete stand still. 26 January, finally, a Great Cormorant flew over, and three days later a lone Willow Tit came to the feeder. On the last day of January I finally made it to the shore again, and besides some hundreds of Common Eiders there also was a small flock of Long-tailed Ducks, and a lone Red-breasted Merganser, all common wintering birds here.

Early February the snow came back, and we have had snow since, maybe again a little less than a meter on the ground. Also, of course, every day we get 10 minutes more of daylight. Some nice sunny frost days, and the Greenfinches awoke and now they can be heard rasping many places  (While strangely enough I have not yet heard the ‘saw’ of the Great Tit, usually the first songster of the year). Once I heard the ‘silvery laugh’ of our newcomer, the Blue Tit, and another day the soft interrogative whistles of Bullfinches.

On my 84th birthday I had a doctor’s appointment, and close to her office I finally heard my first House Sparrows of the year; these last days they are also suddenly back at the neighbour’s feeding site.

Flyovers of Mallards, a Grey Heron, and even a Glaucous Gull (usually a few around here in Winter) rounded out the list, which now has soared all the way to  21. Few of you will be envious, I suppose.

But the days are lighter every day, I hear finally the jubilant long calls of the Herring Gulls again, and soon we can welcome the Common Gulls and the Oystercatchers back from their wintering quarters. Spring is always a little late up here, but it is well worth waiting for.

PS Today 14 March again waxwings in the garden

Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway

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