from your antipodes

Subject: from your antipodes
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 1998 14:47:41 +0100


        The sun is still below the horizon in Tronsoe (69*50`N, N.Norway), 
is not before 21 January. Temperatures are a few degrees below freezing, as
usual; the strange thing is the virtual absence of snow (Last winter on
this day we had 172 cm!). Now there is only a light powdering, to the
despair of the skiers; it helps to light up the scenery during these dark
months (moerketiden, the dark time, we call these 2 months), though.

        Today was windy, grey and chilly, after a week of beautiful calm winter
weather.I went on a few hours walk nevertheless, mostly to battle a bad
headacghe and stiff back, with indifferent success. The route was the same
as in October, "over the top of the island", only in the opposite
direction, too have the wind from behind in the open area along the sound.
There were whitecaps on the sounds, and watching for ducks was therefore
not altogether easy; still, I saw the usual characters: from October to
April there aren`t all that many surprises up here.the light was better
than 3 weeks ago, but still, on a grey day like this, not much better than
         Tens of Hooded Crows in the fields, a very unusual sight in winter; 
common are the many in the intertidal,and in the wrack-line. this area is
also patrolled by Ravens, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls. On the
fields of the agricutural experimental station the family of 6
White-fromted Geese that arrived in November, are still present; they don`t
realize how lucky they have been with this special winter!
        On land only the usual characters: crows, magpies, tits, bullfinches 
than usual) and greenfinches (less than usual). Near the little lake
Prestvannet, where the people profit from the snow-less month by using it
as a skating rink (skates were sold out in Tromsoe earlier this week!), a
great Tit was singing its tee-tee-tu (I can`t hear chickadee, but probably
would if I were an American). He is so right: even though we still have
moerketiden, it is only 4 1/2 months before the midnight sun!!

Birds seen today:
Great Cormorant                 Phalacrocorax c.carbo
Gray heron                      Ardea cinerea
White-fronted Goose             Anser albifrons
Mallard                         Anas platyrhynchos
Common Eider                    Somateria mollissima
Black Scoter                    Melanitta nigra
Red-breasted Merganser  Mergus serrator
Herring Gull                    Larus argentatus
Breat Black-backed Gull L. marinus
Great Tit                       Parus major
Willow Tit                      P. montanus
Raven                           Corvus corax
Hooded Crow                     C. corone cornix
Magpie                          Pica pica
Bullfinch                       Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Greenfinch                      Carduelis chloris

A short list, but the usual here in winter. In addition I have in 98 seen
White-tailed Eagle Haliaaetus albicilla and Sparrow Hawk Accipiter nisus,
and is I had been more "twitchy"; I could have added Feral Pigeon, Willow
Purple Sandpiper and house Sparrow without too much trouble. The only thing
out of the ordinaru are the geese, that do not belong here at all; I saw
that another 4 have recently been seen in Bodoe, ca 500 km S of here.

Happy birding!

                                        Wim Vader, Tromsoe Museum
                                        9037 Tromsoe, Norway
PS I got ticked off by several people for forgetting my address in my
latest mail on "last bird of the year". I apologize.


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