From Birding-Aus



From: Wim Vader <;
Sent: torsdag 21. april 2022 10:58
To: Willem Jan Marinus Vader <;
Cc: Anne Helene Tandberg <;; PG Nell <;
Subject: Very early spring in Tromsø


Very early spring in Tromsø, at 70*N


Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day, and the temperatures ‘soared’ to 11*C; this may seem cold to you, but it was our first day in double digits (in centigrade) in 2022, and very welcome here. (Of course this won’t last as yet: today is 4* and rainy,  and frost will be back at the weekend.) On a short walk along the coastal path I saw 4 kindergarten groups, and diverse school classes, in the intertidal and there were lots of walkers and cyclists on the path, which now is almost completely snow free. The yellow stars of the Coltsfoot twinkle everywhere, and I also found the first flower of the small yellow primrose Primula sibirica, a garden escape that has become very common.

The trees are still completely bare, though,  and higher up on the island there still is snow galore (snow depth 48cm at the meteorological institute).


On the shore there are now gulls everywhere, most in pairs and with the Common Gulls living up to their name. They are also claiming their territories in suburbia, and ‘our’ pair is back on their usual spot on the street lamp in front of the house. In the town the Kittiwakes feud with the home owners, who gate having loud gulls on their window sills. The town administration has built 2 ‘kittiwake towers’ in an effort to lure them to rather nest there, and surprisingly this has some success.


Oystercatcher pairs are also regularly back along our stony shores, and yesterday I watched their impressive piping display for a while. The only other shorebirds I have seen until now are a few Curlews; the wintering Purple Sandpipers are not usually on this side of the island. Another subtle sign of approaching spring is that the buoys and stakes in the sounds are now occupied by large gulls, and no longer by Cormorants, who leave to nest elsewhere.


These last days the first migrant songbirds have arrived. First out were the Chaffinches some days ago, and their optimistic song phrases can now be heard many places in Folkeparken. There seem to be more of them every year: when I first arrived in Tromsø 50 years ago it was still a rarity so far north.


Day before yesterday, a cold and blustery day, I was very surprised to suddenly hear and see a Fieldfare nearby, and yesterday I heard the first Redwing song. Now we had a bumper crop of Rowanberries (Sorbus)  last autumn, so a few of these thrushes may well have wintered, just as ‘ my’ Blackbird. 

 But this morning I am almost sure I heard the tired-sounding rasp of a Brambling; sadly I never saw the bird, so cannot be 100% sure it was not an unusually tired Greenfinch– we have a lot of those, but their rasps sound to me more irritated than tired. Bramblings are here more common than Chaffinches still.

So spring will arrive in Tromsø also this year. And as every year the thousands of yellow stars of the Coltsfoot usher in the growing season.


PS This was written yesterday. Today light rain and +4*C, and the Coltsfoot flowers remain closed. But there are now quite a bit more Redwings singing in Folkeparken. And I can confirm the Brambling; it sang at the same place today.

Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway

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