Full summer in Tromsø

To: birding-aus <>, "Ebn " <>, birdchat <>
Subject: Full summer in Tromsø
From: Vader Willem Jan Marinus <>
Date: Sat, 9 Jul 2011 13:45:59 +0000


The summer in N. Norway has been reasonably good to us hitherto. True enough, 
we have had very rainy periods, but also stretches of several sunny days with 
clear blue skies, not too much wind (usually NE) and definitely not too hot 
summer weather (14-16*C)---this sounds probably chilly to many of you, but with 
little wind and 24hrs sunshine a day there is no better place to be than N. 
Norway in such summer weather! Today we even have an influx of warm weather 
(20-22*C here in Tromsø), but that will change quickly: thunderstorms this 
afternoon, and afterwards northerly winds, rain, and 8-10*C maximum for the 
coming week. So I grasped the chance to do one of my usual walks this morning, 
i.e. along the road through the marshes and heathland of Rakfjord and Risvika, 
along the Kvalsund on the island of Kvaløya, the large island between us and 
the open sea. As I have explained before, by now probably ad nauseam, I fear, 
this part of Kvaløya has hard, acid rocks, and the vegetation is therefore much 
less diverse and luxuriant than here on Tromsøya, where we have chalk in the 

Neither the marshland nor the heath is rich in flowers here, even now in 
midsummer. Some of the small lakes are ringed by a dense fringe of Bogbean 
Menyanthes (mostly already in fruit), and there are at least three species of 
Cotton-grass Eriophorum, but that is about all. And in the heath there are just 
now also few flowers, mainly here and there a Goldenrod Solidago, the heather 
Calluna is not yet in bloom. But along the road there are flowers galore. Many 
are common roadside plants, such as buttercups, white clover, vetch, Meadow 
Vetchling, Water Avens, and  Caraway Carum carvi, which here replaces the Cow 
Parsley of the richer grounds. There are also lots of the white rods of the 
Viviparous Knotweed, which we here in Norway call hare-rygg= hare-rye. Other 
species profit from the humidity in or near the ditches, the likes of the Grass 
of Parnassus Parnassia, Butterwort Pinguicula, the multihued orchids (I think 
mainly Dactylorchis maculata), and probably also the miniature irises of the 
Scottish Asphodel Tofieldia pusilla, that are so easily overlooked. As every 
year, I do not rest before i have found a few small plants of Sundew Drosera 

The walk started auspiciously today, as a mink crossed the road just at the 
place where I always park the car (Some 35 km from home). It was high water, 
and the lagoon that has been formed where the road crossed a bight of the 
sound, was full of water. No mergansers at all, usually the most common ducks 
here; instead quite a number of eider females with small or half-grown young. 
When I start walking along the road, the most numerous bird is the Meadow 
Pipit, often with food in the bill; they must nest here in considerable 
numbers. But there is no sign of the Greylag Geese, also common nesters here; 
they must already have taken their young elsewhere. Instead the dominating 
sound now is the stuttering alarm call of the Whimbrel, also a common nester 
here; clearly some of the pairs have had their nests 8or chicks) close to the 
road. Common Gulls also nest here in some numbers, but they are no longer 
aggressive; apparently the young are by now large enough. The Arctic Skua 
(Parasitic Jaeger), on the other hand, is still very territorial and even 
stoops several times at me, always most impressive with these high-speed 
attacks---but I know they rarely really hit you, not like the Great Skua or the 
terns. Very different tactics are used by a Willow Grouse with small chicks; 
she (or he?) comes out on the road, droops one wing, and is quite as 
demonstrative as the small plovers. Two phalaropes Phalaropus lobatus spin on 
the shallow pond where I have seen them before, but they seem to be both males. 
It is always hit or miss with these birds: they are not at all shy, but easily 
disappear completely among the Bogbeans. On some small willows I find the 
reddest Redpoll I have ever seen, must be a very old male.

I continue until the top of the next hill, where I can overlook the lake where 
a pair of Whooping Swans have nested for several years in a row. But this year 
they seem to be absent, probably to another lake further from the road. Instead 
I find a pair of Golden Plovers, and the first ripe Cloudberries Rubus 
chamaemorus, probably the most popular berry in N. Norway (where we have a wide 
choice). This seems to become a good year for these marsh-loving Rubus, which 
change from red to orange-yellow upon ripening. Most berries are stil not ripe, 
and I am careful only to pick really ripe (and delicious) ones; picking unripe 
'molter' is one of the cardinal sins up here, almost as bad as hunting eider 

On the way back I have to brake sharply for a reindeer that suddenly decides to 
cross the road in front of my car; this is a hazard few of you are confronted 
with, I guess.

I have added a list of the birds seen today, 'without really trying'. The walk 
lasted for 2-3 hours.

Black-throated Diver (Loon)


Tufted Duck

Northern Eider, many with young

Red-throated Merganser(tight flock of c 50 on the sound, probably ready for 

Willow Grouse with young


Golden Plover /NB. the lapwings that always nested here, have been absent this 

Whimbrel (missed the Curlew this time)

Red-necked Phalarope

Arctic Skua (Parasitic Jaeger)

Common Gull

Herring Gull

Great Black-backed Gull

Arctic Tern

Sand Martin (Bank Swallow)

Pied Wagtail

Northern Wheatear


Willow Warbler

European Magpie

Hooded Crow

Common Starling





Vader, Tromsø Museum

Tromsø, Norway


To unsubscribe from this mailing list,
send the message:
(in the body of the message, with no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Full summer in Tromsø, Vader Willem Jan Marinus <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU