The songbirds are returning


Since I last wrote to you, we have had a period of mild weather, and the last few days gave a spring feeling: sunny, clear skies, long days and temperatures for the first time this year in the double digits (10-12*C). That may not seem very much to you, but the terraces were full of beer-drinkers and skiers skied in shirts. Everywhere people are changing the wheels of their cars from the studded tires of the winter wheels to summer wheels (every car has 2 sets of wheels here) and when  the other day, the first day of this sunny stretch) I walked past Telegrafbukta, a grassy area on the coast and ‘Tromsø’s beach’, all the benches were full of picnicking families, while along the path around the south end of our island Tromsøya, now almost snowfree, there was a steady traffic of people with dogs and/or prams. As such sunny days are not all that frequent here, people react very quickly when we are blessed with some.

Last time I wrote that I as yet only heard Great Tits and Greenfinches in Folkeparken, but the day before yesterday I suddenly heard the tjakking of a Fieldfare in the early morning, when I was out to fetch my newspaper, and later that same day near the museum a Chiffchaff sounded its metronome, and two Redwings somewhat half-heartedly practiced their song. Clearly, a wave of migrants had just arrived. Yesterday there were already more Redwings present, and this morning, again when fetching the newspaper, I heard not only another Chiffchaff, but also a Chaffinch.

The snow depth has decreased from 5 ft to less than 2 ft in not much more than a week, and the remaining snow is rotten and unreliable, so that  these days I do not dare to use the usual path through Folkeparken and have to walk around on public roads. Everywhere on the road verges now shine the yellow stars of Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara; it is the only flower here as yet, but it does compensate for the lack of diversity by sheer numbers; there must be thousands. The trees, however, as yet do not show any signs of spring renewal and are completely bare; an exception are a few small willows, that start showing catkins.

And my granddaughter (15) showed me a video she took the other day of an otter sprinting through the center downtown!

Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway

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