To: birding-aus <>, "Birdchat " <>, "Sabirdnet ( " <>, "Ebn " <>
From: Vader Willem Jan Marinus <>
Date: Thu, 8 Aug 2013 09:05:22 +0000


While 2012 up here in Northern Norway almost was 'the summer that never was', 
we were much luckier with 2013: May and early June were sunny and 'warm' (by 
our standards, I.e warmer than 15*C), and while the second half of June was 
more normal (cool, with many wet days), July brought the return of the real 
north Norwegian summer, with a stable High over the Kola peninsula, and dry 
warm, calm weather day after day, often with temperatures climbing above 20*. 
Under such circumstances, there is nowhere better than in North Norway! But of 
course, it had to end some day, and these last days have felt autumnal: 
temperatures 10-13*, more wind and more rain.
Also nature looks autumnal; at Rakfjord, where I was last week, the heather 
Calluna is now in full flower, and here in Tromsø the Meadowsweet Filipendula 
flower fields are gone, while the Fireweed Chamenerion is 'on its last flowers' 
and the enormous Tromsø palms Heracleum only have some flowers left on side 
branches, while some of the enormous leaves already turn yellow. The weather 
this summer also seems to have been favourable for mushrooms, and there are 
many around already.

This morning when I looked out my window (I live now in the basement flat of my 
old home, while my younger daughter and family have taken over the main house) 
I was much surprised to find birds everywhere. I look out on a lawn that slopes 
down to the road, with a number of trees (birches, maple, rowan, alder, a 
spruce) and to the left a flower bed with some open ground and many stones. 
Usually my garden is not very bird rich, and all I see is our local family of 
Magpies, maybe a Hooded Crow and our house gulls, Common Gulls. (I have stopped 
feeding for the summer).  This time there were tens of winter-plumaged 
Fieldfares (most of them in the rough corner in the neighbour's garden, but a 
few just outside my window), a whole family of Great Tits, and quite a number 
of Bramblings, the males in all sorts of intermediate plumages between summer 
and winter dress. Several Pied Wagtails tripped on the lawn, and a number of 
Willow Warblers also ventured down now and then. Nor was this all; among the 
Bramblings I noted one Chaffinch, a few young Redpolls, and surprisingly also a 
single Twite, while a Willow Tit came to inspect the empty feeder tubes. This 
sudden outburst of biodiversity in my usual so monotonous garden must mean that 
the autumn migration movements, or (for the thrushes) at least the flocking 
preliminary to migration, has started and that there must have been going on a 
lot last night.

Before going to work, I drove out to my favourite wetland of Tisnes. I had been 
there already one evening just after the weekend, then as now in the rain, and 
then found the 'horsepools' (dug to accommodate the horses that have taken over 
one of the farms, and have done a lot of damage to the rich vegetation here) 
absolutely thronged with Ruffs, already in winter plumage; there must have been 
at least 150 birds. This morning---such are the vagaries of migration--- there 
were hardly any at all; I saw 4 Ruffs and a single Redshank. But the young 
Spotted Redshanks, that also were here last week, were still present and as 
usual, foraging actively in belly-deep water. To my delight, one went further 
and swam in the deeper part of the pools, upending regularly and with 
considerable success. This upending, which I have seen before, is very fast and 
brief, but otherwise just as in ducks. In the sounds large flocks of Arctic 
Terns gather, and often show complicated and synchronized flight manoeuvres, 
while I also suddenly found a large Whooper Swan in the middle of the Kvalsund 
(Not 'my own swans', as they were still at the nest, where I think there are 
young now)

The  earlier so colourful meadows here, as are most in the area by now, have 
been mowed, and instead of flowers and waving grasses they are now dappled with 
the stark white plastic 'tractor eggs', the new method of conserving the hay.  
On one meadow here a lone Willow Grouse walked among the Common Gulls. Last 
week in Rakfjord I saw such a Willow Grouse 'disappear' in a rough meadow 
simply by ducking down and keeping still, but here the bird was extremely 
conspicuous. I did not see the vagrant Ruddy Shelduck that I discovered here 
two weeks ago, and that apparently still hangs around, but I did have the 
pleasure of watching the local Short-eared Owl hunting over the meadows. This 
time the owl seems to have spent all summer here, while I also have seen this 
species on three other places on Kvaløya and Ringvassøya this year.

                       Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum
                          9037 Tromsø, Norway

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