birding-aus from your antipodes

Subject: birding-aus from your antipodes
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 1999 10:49:47 +0100

                        TROMSØ AS WINTER WONDERLAND

This winter has been a pleasant and "easy" one in northern Norway, in as
much as we have had little snow---for weeks now we had only ca 2 feet on
the ground--, and few periods of mild weather that make everything icy and
soapy-slippery. These last weeks we had sunny, cool weather, with
southeasterly winds and temperatures a few degrees below freezing.

 Three days ago, the wind finally veered to the northwest again, and that
here in Tromsø invariably means a lot of snow. Now the snow cover has
doubled, to the great joy of the Norwegians, who all go skiing in the
Easter holidays. And as temperatures were once more around freezing, the
snow also has clung to all the trees, completely changing the scenery into
a winter wonderland. This morning I walked to work through the Folkeparken,
in the sun, but with very black skies as a backdrop for the bare snowy
boughs, with puffs of wind here and there causing flurries of snow falling
down--- and it all was very very beautiful!
But it is a WINTER wonderland, and little points to the speedy arrival of
spring. The Great Tits sing their sawing strophes, every bird a little
different, but there is little consistency as yet: one morning I hear 15 ,
the next morning maybe only one or two, although weather and timing are the
same both days. It is the same with the Greenfinches, small flocks of which
suddenly appeared again in february. I always hear their rolling trills,
but the nasal rasp that goes for full song in this species, is prevalent
some days, and almost absent the next. The Bullfinches carefully tune up
their flutes (They never get further than tuning), while perching "high"
(by our standards, our trees are puny by everybody else's) in the trees and
glowing in the sun. And that's it; the rest of the song birds has either
not yet arrived (most of them) or does not sing as yet (the Willow Tits).
But in my garden I see the Magpies fly with sticks; they have decided to
change the location of the nest again, to a conifer in the neighbour's
garden. I wonder if that means that one or both of the pair are new birds?
The Hooded Crows show fewer spring feelings, and the Ravens are still
around, and have not yet shown their wonderful aereal acrobatics, that I
watch every year the weeks prior to their disappearance to their nesting
area on the quiet side of the island.

On the shore the first Common Gulls and Oystercatchers have been noted, but
they are still few, and what one sees and hears is all the wintering ducks,
as well as the large gulls, Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls (Which I
note more and more people call Greater Bl-b. Gulls!). The gulls know that
spring is not far away, and I hear more and more often the glorious long
calls that signify spring, shore and sea to me from my early years in
The White-tailed Eagle is gone---it is also a very early nester--, but the
other day I still saw a young Gyrfalcon on the coastal meadows, possibly
looking for a crow or mallard.

>From now on our days are longer than yours, whereever you live, and they
lengthen with ca 10 minutes every day; within two months, the midnight sun
will be back.So enjoy your spring; we are catching up rapidly!

                                        Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum
                                        9037 Tromsø, Norway

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