From your antipodes; fall instead of spring

Subject: From your antipodes; fall instead of spring
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 09:48:51 +0200

                        AUTUMN IN TROMSØ, N. NORWAY

This summer has been fantastic in northern Norway (While the south suffered
a wet, rainy summer), but nothing lasts forever, and although it is still
mild for the time of the year (8*C this morning), autumn is clearly there.
The evenings are quickly getting darker, although we still have marginally
longer days than most of you for another week or so, and the path through
my forest patch gets gradually muddier and dappled with small golden birch
leaves. Mushrooms appear everywhere, some puffballs even in the middle of
my driveway, breaking through the asphalt!

The Firewood has many places its silvery plumes of seeds, and while the
tall ferns remain steadfastly green, the smaller bottom-hugging species
turn beige, and the cranebills, that dominate the undergrowth many places
in the birchwood, turn the whole scene yellowish and reddish. Very few
flowers left, only a few Angelica A. sylvestris, and in ditches along the
road along the fjord, unexpectedly some monkey flowers Mimulus guttatus, an
American import that I keep finding there for 25 years already.
 At Tisnes there are a few more flowers left in the chalk-meadows--purplish
as well as white Field Gentians Gentianella campestris and assorted yellow
Compositae, not my strongest side.

Still not too many birds around, although this is the right time to go and
chase rarities among the migrating shorebirds and passerines, if you have
the time (which I do not, as fall is my lecturing semester). Every morning
new groups of thrushes, Fieldfares and Redwings throng the Rowanberries
around my house and in the birch forest---this year once more it is far
from a bumper crop, so the thrushes will leave us in October-November,
depending on the weather. Bramblings there are too, as well as many Willow
warblers, but the unpredictable Redpolls seem to have left my forest, and
the Greenfinches still have not returned. Great and Willow Tits of course
are always there.

On more open places Meadow Pipits Anthus pratensis fly up everywhere one
walks, along the beach and around houses accompanied by White Wagtails
Motacilla alba. All the terns and most of the Common Gulls have already
left, and there are appreciably fewer Oystercatchers on the shore too,
although one can come across large flocks in specially favourable areas
(where also Common Gulls may flock still).
The Curlews and Whimbrels are fond of berries, so they still hang around
most places; the Curlew is the large shorebird that most regularly tries to
winter in our area. In the fjords the numbers of Cormorants steadily
increase, and the Eiders gradually regain their finery, after a long
eclipse period.

But many places there are few birds around now. Last Sunday I walked for
two hours across a brownish-beige marsh (possible now, because of the warm
dry summer) and saw all of three bird species during that entire period:
Meadow Pipits here and there, a small flock of Redpolls, and a single
Fieldfare. Fortunately the scenery remains the same wonderful one, and
there are berries and mushrooms to compensate for the dearth of flowers and

                                        Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum
                                        9037 Tromsø, Norway

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