From Birding-Aus

No spring yet in Tromsø, but maybe soon

When I was a graduate student back in summer 1962 (time flies) I took part in a museum expedition to Galicia in NW Spain. One of the leaders was the geologist Dr Mabesone, who was of a somewhat hesitant nature. And soon he was generally known as Dr May-be-soon!
I was reminded of that last week, when winter here at 70*N was uncommonly hesitating to leave us. On 11 May the snow depth was 1.27 m in town, the most it has been on this date since the 1.67 m in the famous snow winter of 1996/97. On 13 May we got 15-20 cm of fresh snow, and once more there was snow also down by the shore, down to the high water mark, and all the Coltsfoot flowers were buried. But today is a sunny and calm day, +3*C, and much of the fresh snow on the roofs, and down on the shore has thawd again, and all the Coltsfoot flowers are back, as if nothing had happened.
I walked today along a large coarse grassland field, Hansmark. In a month or so this will be a sea of flowering Cow Parsley Anthriscus and Tromsø Palms Heracleum, with a small colony of Common Gulls, but now it is a brown uneven wilderness, still half covered by the snow of the other day. A few pairs of Greylag Geese walk around, as almost every spring, and probably they will also this year decide that this field is too close to the large supermarket on one side, and to the many people with dogs,  and move to nest elsewhere. At first sight there are few birds here otherwise, but the longer one looks, the more foraging Fieldfares, with fewer Redwings among them, one discovers. And to my pleasant surprise, there were also here and there beautiful golden Golden Plovers, no doubt just arrived, among them. I counted ten, but there were probably more. Even more surprising was a largish (35-40) flock of Snow Buntings, suddenly flying up and whirling away like so many snowflakes; they were all still in winter plumage. These are on their way to Greenland, probably the smallest birds to venture on such a long sea crossing here.
On the shore there were, as always, gulls and Oystercatchers,  a stately Grey Heron, and a pair of Mallards. At sea two smallish flocks of diligently foraging Common Eiders, as always closely followed by a kleptoparasitic Herring Gull. On the way back home Greenfinches, Bramblings and a Chaffinch sang,  no Willow Warblers as yet.  Tonight and tomorrow a new powerful depression will probably bring more snow. But for Sunday, our national holiday, in other years full of parades and all sorts of happenings, the weather people have forecast that if, as is well possible, the sun comes out now and then, temperatures may soar all the way to +5*C. This year there will be no parades, but the plan is that all Norwegians will ‘come together’ at 1 pm, and sing our national anthem: Yes, I love this country’! 
So no spring as yet, but may be soon.
Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway 

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