From your antipodes

Subject: From your antipodes
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Sun, 07 Dec 1997 14:33:54 +0100


Tromsoe, at 70*N in northern Norway, has now entered moerketiden, i.e. the
two months period that the sun does not rise above the horizon. It is 2 30
pm while I`m writing this and pitch-dark outside, after a few hours of
twilight in the middle of the day. 
Today is darker than most, because we have a fierce SW storm and rain
showers, one of a few short mild spells that come every winter, make the
streets extra slippery, and are generally unpleasant: two degrees below
freezing is much to be preferred to two degrees above, in my eyes! There is
about 40 cm of snow, below average for December.

Birdlife in town and the sounds around has not changed since the last time
I posted, although the adult White-tailed Eagle Haliaaetus albicilla has
returned to our side of the island for the winter, and ravens are commonly
 A family (I think) of White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons has spent the
last week on some fields at the agricultural atation on the island, the
flock of Grey Herons Ardea cinerea is still around, and a friend came
across a late Lapwing Vanellus vanellus last week. But in the main the
birds are the same few species as last mont, just so much harder to see in
the gloom.

                At my feeders the tits arrive quite early, and when I first 
look at 7 30
am there is full activity; mind you, my window lights are on all night. As
usual, there are Great Tits and Willow Tits Parus major and P. montanus,
with more of the former; this winter we have not yet had really heavy
snowfalls, so many Willow tits still remain in the forest.
When I leave for work around 8 00, I most mornings also hear the tentative
whistles of my favourites the bullfinches Pyrrhula pyrrhula. Yesterday at
noon there were as many as six! Three pairs, I think, as they usually
arrive in pairs. Still hardly any greenfinches Carduelis chloris, which
saves a lot of sun-flower seed, compared to 1996.
                Lest this sounds too gloomy, let me finally tell you about the
magnificent light-effects of our socalled "dark period". On clear or still
more on partly cloudy mornings the entire south skies (And my office
overlooks the Balsfjord in a southerly direction) can light up in a
wonderful combination of light-azure, almost transparent skies, punctuated
by a series of reds and yellows in the clouds, changing as the morning goes
on from very dark red through a series of vermillions and oranges to orange
yellow. At night the Aurora Borealis displays its glittering show free for
all (weather permitting), and in the snow millions of tiny diamonds are
twinkling under the many many street lights of this cheap-energy town. So
even though birding comes almost to a stand-still these two months, don`t
feel sorry for us: this is a great place to live!, 

                                                Wim Vader, Tromsoe Museum
                                                9037 Tromsoe, Norway

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