Late September in Tromsø

To: <>
Subject: Late September in Tromsø
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 2006 11:23:52 +0200

                                      LATE SEPTEMBER IN TROMSØ, N.NORWAY

Most of Europe has had a beautiful and warm Indian summer, and in S. Norway, up 
to about the Arctic Circle, there is a good chance of new temperature records 
for September, with up to now a deviation of up to 4*C from the 30 years mean. 
As so often before, though, things are different here in Tromsø, at almost 
70*N. We have had a cool and wet summer (well, maybe the 'we' is a bit 
misplaced , as I was away for six weeks in Australia), and September, although 
also here a bit warmer than usual in the first half, has also been unpleasantly 
rainy. And now the temperature has also dropped here (+4*C today), the 
surrounding hills are completely white down to c 300m, and the birches have 
lost more than half their leaves. Yesterday we had mushroom-control at the 
museum; traditionally mushrooms were little used in N.Norway, but with the 
university etc there are now a lot of southerners in town and we have also a 
substantial group of Russian women---mostly married to Norwegians--, so these 
last decades the use of mushrooms has, to use a logical metaphore, mushroomed.

This year we have a bumper-crop of Rowanberries (Mountain Ash, Sorbus 
aucuparia), and this morning the large Rowan  in a neighbouring garden is 
suddenly full of Fieldfares and Redwings, probably driven down from the 
hillsides by the fresh snow there; I have not yet seen any Waxwings, but they 
will probably arrive soon. (Some years we also get Pine Grosbeaks on these 
berries). Folk-wisdom has a lot of sayings about the meteorological meaning of 
bumper crops of rowanberries: the most common says that they predict a 
snow-rich winter, but I also have heard people say, that this means that we 
won't get much snow before Christmas. According to them, the Rowan is a proud 
tree, that does not want to bend twice, once under the weight of the berries, 
then under the weight of the snow. (The rowans are still in full leaf; they 
lose their leaves later than the birches.)

Otherwise, this is the time for the really active birders and ringers, as there 
may be rare species migrating through; quite a number of Yellow-browed warblers 
for example have been caught and banded already around Tromsø this autumn. Most 
of the summer birds have already left, so along the shore we only have gulls, 
Hooded Crows and Purple Sandpipers, while large flocks of once more beautifully 
dressed  Common Eiders dominate the scene offshore, and the numbers of Great 
Cormorants is back at full winter strength. Yesterday was the autumn equinox, 
when day and night were of equal length everywhere; from now on daylight will 
continue to decrease by c 10 minutes every day, and  two months the sun will 
disappear below the horizon for two months. During a few rare clear nights we 
have already greatly enjoyed the Aurora Borealis, a wonderful spectacle, and 
completely for free!

               Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum
               9037 Tromsø, Norway

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