FW: Spring at last!



From: Wim Vader <wjm.vader@gmail.com&gt;
Sent: onsdag 25. mai 2022 10:53
To: Willem Jan Marinus Vader <wim.vader@uit.no&gt;
Subject: Spring at last!


I last mailed from Tromsø on 30 April, with the heading: "How long was Adam in Paradise?", and a description of the return of winter weather and half a meter of snow. Of course that did not last forever, but the first half of May remained cool, although some Redwings and Bramblings started singing again. The only new returning birds I found in this period were a few Golden Plovers, and a pair of Red-throated Loons on the sound (Prestvannet, their nesting lake on top of our island, was still ice- covered).


On 17 May, ‘our 4th of July’, and the first time in 3 years this could again be celebrated in full, Tromsø experienced a last gasp of winter, with snow all day and a maximum temp. of 0.9*C, the lowest in 75 years!

But after that things have rapidly changed for the better. We now have mostly sunny days, with temp. up to 15*C (not all that impressive to most of you, I know), and the midnight sun since last weekend; the sun won’t set again here until 21 July. The last snow in our garden disappeared 2 days ago, and lots of small Primula flower on our lawn, having arrived spontaneously. I also could extricate my old car again, which improves my action radius a lot. On the sound , the flocks of Common Eiders now consist almost exclusively of males, while close to shore pairs of eiders are prospecting places to nest. Mallards are prospecting in the woodlands.


So spring is definitely on its way, and it will probably arrive at high speed. The Rowans Sorbus are leafing, the Willows are in bloom, and the here dominating birches will probably turn green in a week or so. Still no Willow Warblers, though, our most numerous songsters, but any day now! Innumerable yellow flowers of Coltsfoot Tussilago and of pale yellow Primula, but as yet no other flowers, although there are a lot of the small minarets of Equisetum spore bearers.


At the Tisnes wetlands–always the first destination when I can use my car again (I had to brake strongly halfways for crossing reindeer, reminding me that I live at 70*N), the Ruffs are back, and yesterday, at my other traditional walk on the other side of Kvaløya, along the Kvalsund, Willow Grouse were cackling (brown heads, white body just now), there were Redshanks, Golden Plovers and many Whimbrels, and the several small lakes were ice free. At one the resident pair of Arctic Loons had returned, at another the usual pair of Whooper Swans not yet. A Raven chased gulls–uses to be the other way round–, and a White-tailed Sea Eagle sat on a skerry in the Kvalsund.

Spring has finally returned to Tromsø, at 70*N. On Friday I’ll fly to Svalbard, at 78* N, to visit my daughter and family, for a long weekend. Still earlier spring there, but also still more impressive midnight sun.


PS. This was written 2 days ago. Yesterday we had 18*, and I saw the first flowering Dandelions in town. And this morning in Folkeparken, I found abundantly flowering white  Anemone sylvestris, and the first butter yellow flowers of Caltha palustris. There was also a real songbird concerto, with as always Redwings and Bramblings dominating. But there were also several Chiffchaffs (a newcomer, getting more common every year, it seems) and the first Willow Warbler. And I discovered another returned migrant, a nice black and white Pied Flycatcher. And many birches have developed a green hue! When spring finally arrives at 70* N, it does not sneak in, it storms in.

Wim Vader, Tromsø, Norway

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