Fw: summer 2017 in Tromsø

Received from Vim Vader, but sausage fingers here hit the wrong button. Sorry!

Replies directly to Vim, please.


From: Willem Jan Marinus Vader
Sent: Sunday, July 16, 2017 9:42 PM
To: Birding-Aus ; Birdchat (BIRDCHAT@LISTSERV.KSU.EDU) ; sabirdnet
Subject: summer 2017 in Tromsø


Outside the sun is shining and it is maybe 15*C; but dark clouds are already gathering, and from later today the next front will again bring cooler weather and more rain, after the front of Wednesday-Thursday and that of Friday-Saturday. Altogether the summer of 2017 has been a moderately unsatisfactory one hitherto: spring was exceptionally late, the ice on Prestvannet went two weeks later than normal, many of the returning songbirds were 10-14 days late to arrive, and there is still considerably more snow than most years in the mountains. I arrived home from a birding trip on 5 June, just in time to see the last snow on the island of Tromsøya and also just in time to enjoy a week of wonderful summer weather; I have written about this before.

But since then we have had a succession of weeks of unstable and cool weather, and a week ago we even had fresh snow on the hilltops around Tromsø! No wonder then that 2017 has been a bad year for many of our summer birds. Eight pairs of Red-throated Loons bred on Prestvannet this year, but as yet I have not seen a single young. On the shores, where usually this time a year there are lots of eider ducklings, there are now only a few, while flocks of female eiders witness of failed breeding. And today I noticed large flocks of Common Gulls, our ‘house gulls’ here, on the shore, again without any young, and although most young gulls are still small— we had three day-old young in our garden a week ago (Riet went innocently out to photograph them, but came very soon in again–the parents are quite vigilant)— there are too many adults flocking on the shore already, I fear. Also many small birds probably have had a bad breeding season, but not all: today, as usual in late summer, families of White Wagtails fluttered in front of the car on the smaller roads. And the Arctic Loons on Kvaløya do have a young.

I visited the wetlands of Tisnes today. Many Common Gulls there are still at the nests and may still have very small young, and I saw also a pair of Wigeons with a few ducklings. Just a few Ruffs; numbers of nesting birds have decreased here a lot, and it is just too early probably for migrants to start coming through. Redshanks, Curlews and Oystercatchers alarm frenetically, and I spotted what may probably be the last Cuckoo of the year on a wire. There were a few Starlings, again with no young, but the nearby colony of Sand Martins (Bank Swallows, in always compromising and mediating Norway called Sand Swallows!) in a sand cliff above the road is still active.

The Tromsø area is a riot of colour nowadays and if this not were a bird list I would tell you more about them. Our island and the area south towards Tisnes are chalk-rich and the vegetation is very luxuriant, helped of course by 24 hrs daylight in 2 summer months (One more week!). Even the usually quite dull marshes are now in their best finery, speckled with waving cotton-grass. And last week on our town mountain Fløya the whole mountain was white with Mountain Aven Dryas octopetala.

An anecdote at the end. When we had the young gull-chicks in the garden, the local magpie was of course extremely unpopular with the gull parents. For a time he cunningly succeeded to stay on the other side of our maple tree trunk, but in the end he had to flee under my car. Earlier this summer, he had been fiercely attacked by the resident pair of Redwings, but that did not bother the magpie all too much. But the gulls clearly were a different matter.

All the best

Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway


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