Slushy winter at 70*N

Subject: Slushy winter at 70*N
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001 13:11:52 +0200

                        BETWEEN SEASONS IN TROMSØ, N.NORWAY (70*N)

        The light is the light of spring and summer here now: the evenings are
very long, the nights light, and the mornings already busy when I get up.
But the temperatures are basically wintery, and there is still more than 3
ft of snow on the ground, 94 cm yesterday, to be exact. These last days we
have got some inches of wet snow every evening and night, but during the
days the temperature creeps above the freezing point, roofs drip, the
streets are full of what we call 'slaps' (melting snow), and water runs
everywhere on our hilly island. In the Folkeparken the snow gets
treacherous, and keeping on the narrow path of somewhat harder snow is of
almost Biblical importance, as you sink deeply as soon as you stray from
the right course.

        Bird-wise there are few changes as yet in the forest, although the first
Wood Pigeons have been noted. This is one of the bird species that are
slowly conquering our region from the south these last years; others are
European Robin and Blue Tit. They follow species like Greenfinch, Chaffinch
and Chiffchaff, that were rare here when I first came to Tromsø almost 30
years ago, but which are now regular to very common.
        The 'very common' fits the Greenfinches best; every morning they
absolutely dominate the sound picture when I walk through Folkeparken, and
they are now also the most numerous species at my feeders in the garden.
Second place in both cases belongs to the Great Tit, while the Bullfinches
for some reason have largely avoided my garden this winter, but are regular
in Folkeparken, and the Willow Tits for some reason I have not seen or
heard at all these last weeks. Hooded Crows and Magpies are numerous as
always; the magpies fly very frquently with sticks for nest building, while
I never see a crow fly with sticks, although they too build large stick
nests. Why this conspicuous difference in behaviour, I do not know.

        These last days the Common Gulls more and more live up to their names;
they come inland from the shore, to their nesting territories in and around
the town, and start their loud displays that are so characteristic for
Tromsø (and coastal N.Norway generally) in spring and summer, and that will
keep many tourists awake also this year----during the light nights of
summer here the gulls see no reason to interrupt their activities at night.
Also the first Lapwings and White Wagtails have been seen, and this morning
I saw from my house a skein of some 15 geese---no doubt Greylag Geese (I
was close enough to see that these were geese and not Cormorants, but not
which geese)--- along the shore of the sound. The first Fieldfares of the
season have also been noted, but as my car is still snowed in, I have not
had the chance to 'spread my wings' and look further than the immediate
surroundings these last weeks. That will soon change, I hope, if the
present in between weather continues and we don't get a return of winter
and blizzards (Quite possible in itself; our current snow depth record
(2.43m) is from 29 April 1997!). But this winter has been altogether so
benign, that one may hope it also will  retreat gradually and graciously!

Vader, Tromsø Museum
Tromsø, Norway

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