first birdsong

Subject: first birdsong
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002 10:01:04 +0100

                                FIRST BIRDSONG OF 2002 IN TROMSØ, N.NORWAY

The sun has been back above the horizon for ca 10 days now, and the
difference is amazing; I can not remember having had so strong an
impression of lighter and longer days so soon after Soldagen in earlier
years. The reason is probably that the weeks before Soldagen were
especially dark, cloudy and wet, while the return of the sun coincided with
a weather change towards crisp cold clear weather, with temperatures around
minus 10-13*C and steel-blue cloudless skies. Every day daylight is ten
minutes longer, and in addition this first week the sun rises above the
mountainous horizon in the south, so that now we have already some 90
minutes of sun around noon. In the mornings I walk to work in twilight and
in the afternoon, when I walk home, although it is quite dark, there is a
band of lighter sky outlining the hilltops of Kvaløya, the big island
between us and the sea. Strangely enough the 'dark light' of the winter
months is often the most impressive of the whole year up here!

Now the depressions and storms that this last week have bothered western
Europe and passed south of N.Norway, while we had light northerly and
northeasterly winds, once more look like pushing north again; temperatures
have risen to a few degrees frost only, and northwesterlies push the snow
showers  over land---although snow depth still is < 50 cm, much less than
the normal situation. This has caused darker mornings---and more slippery
paths---, but the forest is more beautiful,than ever, and thousands of
ice-crystals glitter everywhere one looks. Folkeparken, the remnant birch
forest, with spruce plantations,between my house and Tromsø Museum, that I
walk thorugh to work, is usually almost completely silent in the mornings,
apart from the harsh calls of the Hooded Crows, but this morning, while I
was putting the garbage out, I suddenly heard the sawing "tee tuu tee tuu
"of a Great Tit, the first bird song of the new year. It is not a
particularly beautiful song (In Holland we used to talk about the 'sawing'
of the Great Tits), and the bird soon fell silent again, frightened by its
own audacity perhaps; but it did me a world of good anyway!!  At the same
time I heard also the tentative whistles of the bullfinches (almost like
far-away gulls; I always have to double-check), but they never get further
than that in winter---and hardly in spring either.

Because of the more ample daylight my year list slowly fills out with all
the usual suspects. The feral pigeons in town, the mallards loafing on the
sea shore, the tight group of scoters in the fjord, and even a few King
Eiders among the large eider flocks. A majestic White-tailed Sea Eagle
sailed over the museum at lunch time the other day, and a Willow Grouse was
scared up during a walk insuburbia. Same procedure as every year!

PS The local weather forecast for the inland Finnmarksvidda the other day
was for "considerably milder weather", and this turned out to be a
temperature rise from minus 45*C to -25*C!! It all depends on your point of

                                                                        Wim Vader, 
Tromsø Museum
Tromsø, Norway


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