Finally.....and suddenly!

To: birding-aus <>, "Birdchat " <>, sabirdnet <>
Subject: Finally.....and suddenly!
From: Willem Jan Marinus Vader <>
Date: Sat, 2 May 2020 11:07:54 +0000
Finally and suddenly......signs of spring in Tromsø

As I have reported earlier this winter, northern Norway got a lot of snow this winter, much of which fell in March. Now we have had a week of what we call 'Easter weather': a few degrees frost at night, a few degrees above freezing during the day, little wind and lots of sun (It is only 3 weeks before we'll have the midnight sun again) During this period quite a lot of snow has disappeared (Sublimated more than melted, it looks like), but around our house at 45m a.s.l. there is still more than one meter in the garden, with much larger piles where people have cleaned paths and roads. But down by the shore almost all the snow has already disappeared, and the coastal path to the south point of our island of Tromsoeya is for 3/4 snow-free.
I had a minor heart op. 10 days ago, so am still slow and restricted to the near neighbourhood, but I have been on short walks every day, and watched and listened in vain for the return of our migrant songbirds. Two days ago I walked part of the coastal path in the afternoon  and was thrilled to see numbers of the yellow stars of the Coltsfoot Tussilago, a flower that has almost no competitors as floral harbinger of spring here north, and which will soon twinkle everywhere in their thousands. Today I walked the same path, but now in the morning, and at first I wondered: where had all the flowers gone? Then I realised that now I walked against the sun, and all the flowers had turned to face the sun, so that I only saw the greenish backsides! And just as the first time, also now I saw a single Tortoiseshell butterfly on them.
But with the birds I have had to be patient, clearly. Greenfinches and Great Tits sing, but they are here all year, just as the pair of Red-throated Mergansers that finally swam onto my year list today. The Oystercatcher pair that these last years has nested on the roof of the nearby TV studio returned a few days ago, and today I saw also elaborate piping ceremonies on the shore. And the always shrieking Common Gulls are more and more often also circling over the house and calling from a lamp post; they are establishing territories, I suppose. They nest every year among the houses here, on the ground, on flat roofs, or even in the trees; in our garden they nested several years on top of a magpie nest 5 m up.
But then today---suddenly-- the birds were back! Fieldfares were flying around in small flocks, while Redwings sang from the bare birches. I also heard at least 5 Chaffinches, and a single Dunnock. They all must have arrived last night, when our weather was slowly changing and a low is moving up through Sweden and Finland; many of our migrants arrive here via an inland route, through the big valleys of eastern Troms.
It was wonderful to have 'our' songbirds back; maybe that was the reason I  managed a somewhat longer walk today,
Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway
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