first bird of 2002 at 70*N

Subject: first bird of 2002 at 70*N
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Wed, 02 Jan 2002 13:57:18 +0100


Last time I reported from our northern outpost in Tromsø we feared the
absence of a White Christmas here at 70*N. But as fortunately  happens with
so many worries in life, this worst case did not materialize. Instead all
of Europe was enveloped in winter weather from a few days before Christmas,
and here in Tromsø that meant ca 1/2 m of fresh snow,  and afterwards
mostly clear skies and calm, crisp, and fairly cold (ca -10*C) winter
weather, now and then further brightened by the full moon and/or the Aurora
Borealis, for more than a week, all the time from before Christmas Eve to
almost New Year's Eve. The clear weather and snow helped a lot against the
absence of daylight (never absolute, by the way, even during the darkest
week we have ca one hour of twilight, and now ten days later that period
has already lengthened appreciably, and the southern skies are wonderfully
reddish during midday many days), and it is now again possible to walk
through the forest all day; the path is less icy and slippery, and the snow
reflects just enough light to navigate by.

Unfortunately 2002 (Godt Nyttår, everybody!!) seems to start out with
another period of westerlies and mild weather, icy roads and slippery
paths. Late Sylvester evening we had a snow storm; although it did little
to damp the exuberant celebrations of the New Year in town, it nearly
oblitterated the view of the fireworks from our mountain, and shortened our
own stay in town. On the way back home neighbours asked me about 'all the
migrant birds' that were so obvious the last days, and after some
cogitation I understood they meant the large flocks (often hundreds of
birds) of thrushes that again have visited our neighbourhood  these last
days, plundering the rowanberries; as far as I can see, they are all
Fieldfares, and I suppose they are mostly our local birds, that have stayed
behind because of the bumper berry crop this autumn.

We were not early up on New Years day, but first daylight is anyway not
before ca 10.30 am, and looking out then I saw a small bird on the feeder
in the garden, a chipper Greenfinch, first bird of the new year. It was
rapidly followed by the other common visitors, Great and Willow Tits, while
a Hooded Crow flew overhead. A small stroll with Riet, again on a visit to
Tromsø, and my daughter's dog added the other 'usual suspects' for my
neighbourhood this time a year: Fieldfares still, conversations between
families of Magpies in the fir plantations, the tentative whistles of
Bullfinches. And along the sound compact parties of Eiders, the joyful
yodeling of what I henceforth always will be careful to call Long-tailed
Ducks, and both Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls. By then it was 12 30
and daylight is rapidly fading again; but there are not so very many other
birds around anyway. Although the year list probably will ca double in the
weeks ahead.

A wonderful 2002, full of birds that you not only list but also watch and
enjoy; that is my wish for all of you.

                                                                Wim Vader, 
Tromsø Museum
                                                                9037 Tromsø, 

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