Summersnapshot from tromsoe

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Subject: Summersnapshot from tromsoe
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Thu, 23 Jun 2005 13:33:50 +0200

                                EARLY SUMMER SNAPSHOT FROM TROMSØ, NORTHERN 

When I recently returned from two weeks in Germany (amphipods again) the scene 
at home had changed miraculously, partly thanks to a bout of very nice and 
sunny summer weather (as so often happens while I am away). When I left, the 
forest was still not yet completely green, and the only flowers to be found 
were the yellow Dandelions along the road verges, and patches of Wood Anemone 
Anemone nemorosa in Folkeparken.

Now the picture is a completely different one. All the trees are in full leaf, 
with all the different greens of spring, and the Rowans Sorbus aucuparia are in 
full flower. Along the roads the dandelions have got company of luxuriant Cow 
Parsly Anthriscus sylvestris and Buttercups Ranunculus spp, and on shaded 
slopes the beautiful yellow flowers of the Two-flowered violet Viola biflora 
twinkle everywhere, with here and there the stately Globe Flowers Trollius 
europaeus. In the forest, although the anemones and the sweet Wood Sorrel 
Oxalis acetosella have already faded away, white is still the dominant colour, 
with lots of  tender Wood Stitchwort Stellaria nemorum (most of them flattened 
this morning after the heavy rainfall of the night), and in the drier areas 
plenty of Chickweed Wintergreen Trientalis europaea (I like the Dutch name of 
Sevenstar much better than the prosaic british one, by the way; in Norway this 
is Skogstjerne, the forest star, with large patches of Dwarf Cornel Cornus 
suecica just coming in 'flower'. This white dominance won't last long though, 
the virtual 'wall to wall carpet' of Wood Cranesbill already shows the first 
pink flowers, and next week pink will be the dominating colour in Folkeparken.

Just now the good weather is coming to an end, most unfortunate, for tonight is 
Sankthansaften (St John's Eve), when we celebrate midsummer with extensive 
partying around bonfires out in nature. We had heavy rainfall already last 
night, with puddles everywhere, the little brooklet suddenly running across the 
path through Folkeparken again, and the path itself full of earthworms, no 
doubt displaced by the same abundant rainfall. A Common Gull walked in the 
middle of the forest and industriously collected his breakfast here. And more 
rain is expected for tonight, and in fact for several days ahead.

These gulls nest everywhere in town. There is always a pair around my 
house,yelling day and night, but I have never been able to figure out where 
exactly those nest. But a bit down the road, at the house where the House 
Sparrows were the new kids on the block' last year, a gull is faithfully 
breeding on the corner of the flat roof, they spell trouble for us passers by 
as soon as the young hatch. The sparrows are also stilol there, and duringthe 
nice weather they often took their dust baths along the road where there were 
heaps of earth because of some repair work. (This spring several sparrows also 
turned up in my garden, but seemingly they did not find good nesting 
opportunities there)

In Folkeparken the ambiance is also late spring-early summer. The Willow 
Warblers now dominate the morning chorus, some days--but not all-- followed by 
the Redwings. These Redwings intrigue me, for they seem to have switched their 
dialect this year: Redwings are 'dialect songsters', with the birds from the 
mainland sounding quite differently from those on the island here, and the 
tromsøya birds in all years have had an ascending 'virri virri virri' as the 
first loud part of the song. But this year they all sing differently, although 
all birds still seem to have the same song!

The Fieldfares keep mostly quiet, unless there is a magpie or crow around, in 
which case they all burst out in loud and discordant scolding and chase the 
intruder. Other voices in Folkeparken are Bramblings (very few this year), 
Greenfinches 8lots and lots) , Bullfinches (quiet and unobtrusive) and Great 
Tits. Close to the museum two Chiffchaffs have their territory, and one eithers 
hears both of them or neither. In General I have the sad impression that there 
fewer songbirds in Folkeparken than there used to be---it is many years since I 
heard Bluethroats there, and several years since I heard Garden and Sedge 
Warblers, while also the Woodcock seems definitely to have given up the unequal 
struggle with people, dogs and cats. Dunnocks and Willow Tits are undoubtedly 
still present, but they don't sing any more, while sadly I can't hear the 
Goldcrest anymore. There have been crossbills in Folkeparken earlier this 
spring (they are very early nesters), but I have not heard them these last 
months, nor have I seen any of the Banded Crossbills that have been noted 
elsewhere on the island.

This is a beautiful time of year here, with 24 hours of daylight, and all 
vegetation growing phenomenally fast, so that there are new flowers virtually 
every week.

Vader, Tromsø Museum
Tromsø, Norway

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