summer 2012 in Tromsø

To: birding-aus <>, "" <>
Subject: summer 2012 in Tromsø
From: Vader Willem Jan Marinus <>
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2012 12:13:10 +0000

Yesterday I drove and walked in the neighbourhood of my home town, Tromsø in 
N.Norway (70*N), in the hope of finding some migrating shorebirds. Usually 
flocks of Dunlin and Ringed Plovers, with smaller numbers of Curlew Sandpipers 
and Little Stints, are a common sight this time a year, and also Ruffs, 
Redshanks and Spotted Redshanks are quite conspicuous. Yesterday I found none 
of them at all (not quite true, I heard a Ringed Plover somewhere, but could 
not find it), the only flocks were of Oystercatchers. Have the shorebirds done 
what many of the human inhabitants also have done this 'summer' (albeit only 
for a few weeks) and moved south to find better weather?

Tromsø is, as I fear I have by now told you all too often, far north and even 
though we have much better summers (courtesy of the Gulf Stream) than all other 
areas at the same latitude (70*N), our climate is far from stable and one 
summer is often very different from the last, and the next, one. (In addition 
global warming models threaten 'warmer, wilder and wetter weather' in our 
region, and we see some signs of that too)

This year our summer has definitely been wilder and wetter than usual, but as 
definitely NOT warmer. Tromsø has had about half of the average numbers of 
sun-hours (We have a lot of those potentially in summer, with two months of 
midnightsun), 80% more rain and only two days with the maximum temperature 
creeping above 20*C (I was away on both days. We have an old saying here: 'I 
overslept one morning and missed the summer entirely', but that only shows that 
the locals like to exaggerate). No wonder then that the breeding season for 
many bird species has been a partial or even total failure this 'summer'. Very 
strong rainfall in Troms inland has also led to huge damage on roads, bridges 
and arable land a month ago, as the rivers broke their bounds.

This  nesting failure was also caused by another unfortunate circumstance: 2011 
had been a lemming-year in N. Norway, esp. in the inland and in Finnmark, the 
northernmost province, but last autumn rodent numbers collapsed and this year 
they are at an absolute minimum. This has as result that the rodent 
specialists: various owls, Rough-legged Buzzard (Hawk), Long-tailed Skua 
(Jaeger) mostly did not even try to nest at all, but also that all kind of  
less specialized rodent-hunters (both birds and mammals) searched for alternate 
prey, and therefore the eggs and young of ground-nesting birds suffered a lot 
of predation.

For insect-eating birds---and as you know, a lot of seed-eaters feed their 
young the first weeks mainly on insects, even our grouse and ptarmigan-- this 
summer also has been almost disastrous, and many people have found dead tits 
and flycatchers young in their nestboxes.

The flowers were less bothered by the weather, but all were 2-3 weeks later in 
flower than usual, and the local strawberries are only just now coming into the 
shops! It may well become an extra good autumn for mushrooms, however, if no 
further calamities (A strong Indian summer, seen from the mushrooms' 
perspective) interfere. The people here generally are quite hardy; they know 
that summer in Tromsø can be both wonderful or almost absent. 'After all, we 
live at 70*N', somebody remarked in the local newspaper. And others have found 
solace in the thought, that sunburn is not much of a problem this summer in 

Today the sun shines, but there is a brisk northerly wind, and the temperature 
is around 10*C now in the afternoon

All the best from the high north!

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>
  • summer 2012 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