Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2005 15:32:02 +0200

To: <>
Subject: Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2005 15:32:02 +0200
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2005 23:32:28 +1000 (EST)


Several people have asked me to describe the summer birds of Tromsø once more. 
I have been quite a lot away this summer, though, and have had much less 
opportunity to go birding at home this summer than in most years. Amazingly 
enough I have for example this summer not once heard my personal favourites, 
the Bluethroats, sing here at home, even though they are common many places 
here, nor have I yet seen our national bird, the Dipper, a clear sign that I 
have been out far too little. And by now it is almost too late: although 
Bluethroasts move through our area in some numbers on migration, they don't 
sing then, not have they in fact a blue throat anymore.

The general impression one gets here now, is one of early autumn. Riet who was 
here for 10 days recently, and who was quite lucky with the weather for the 
first part of her visit, nevertheless persistently talked about 'September 
weather' (changing her tune to 'October weather' when it changed to cool, wet 
and grey. We still have longer daylight than most Europeans, but the days 
nevertheless shorten appreciably day by day, and we need to have the lights on 
in the living rooms again at night, something not at all necessary in full 
summer. The air is often very clear, there are far fewer insects in the air 
than earlier in the summer, and some of the birches already let go of a few 
yellow leaves, while here in town the 'Tromsø palms', the giant Heracleum, 
contribute by also yellowing quite early, one enormous leaf at a time. In 
addition, there are mushrooms galore in the birch woods, and few flowers left. 
The last Meadowsweets and Fireweeds, here and there an Angelica, and some 
yellow Hawksweed. The woods are full of edible berries, though: Vaccinium, 
Oxycoccus, Cloudberries, and a number of others which, although not very good 
for people, may still be fully palatable for the birds, crowberries Empetrum 
dominant among them. That the birds also really make a lot of use of them, is 
shown by the deep purple splats everywhere in the heath, and by the flocks of 
thrushes; these latter also have lots and lots of rowanberries this year to 
feast on, and I should therefore not be surprised if they stayed later than 
usual this autumn. In the birchwood there are also here and there flocks of 
Bramblings or Redpolls, but altogether there are quite few birds to be seen on 
land, and also in the wetlands inland most of the inhabitants have already 
left, while the ducks are still there, but are in moult and largely hide in the 

On and near the shores there is much activity, however, as the shorebird 
migration is in full spate. Ruffs are on many grasslands, in silent small 
flocks, characterized also by the clear size differences between the sexes. 
Spotted Redshanks are also common, and very often a lone bird springs out of 
the wetland in front of you, and flies off with its so diagnostic tu-EET. They 
also frequent the muddy shores, where they mix with Redshanks and the odd 
Greenshank, but usually stay aloof from the busy flocks of smaller fry. Here 
Dunlins dominate, but every sizeable flock has a number of Little Stints and 
often there are also a Curlew Sandpiper or two, as well as some Ringed Plovers. 
There are also Temminck's Stints in the area, but they are inconspicuous and 
keep to quiet muddy nooks and corners, where they are easily overlooked. At the 
Tisnes wetlands there is, as every late summer, an influx of phalaropes 
Phalaropus lobatus; last weekend I counted about 30 in the one small pool. In 
the harbour the number of Cormorants (A species that has had a disastrously bad 
breeding season in our area this year) is slowly increasing again; this species 
is much more common in winter than in summer just here.

We have had a quite normal summer, which means a mosaic of many cool, wet days, 
interspersed with periods of nice, considerable warnmer weather (maybe around 
20*C, but feeling much warmer than that). Now it is showery, with temperatures 
of c 12*C, quite normal for the time of the year. Later this week I'll travel 
north, for three weeks of Arctic Benthic Marine Biology course on Svalbard, 
including a research cruise to the cold eastern parts of the archipelago. Not 
too many birds, no doubt, but a chance of some of the more spectacular arctic 
species. But as always, the amphipods will come first!

Vader, Tromsø Museum
Tromsø, Norway

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  • Date: Sun, 21 Aug 2005 15:32:02 +0200, Wim Vader <=

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