onsdag 25 maj 2011

Bluethroat - Blåstrupe

The Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica) is perhaps one of the most characteristic birds of the North, with it`s strong colouration and imitative song. Having it`s overwintering grounds in Africa and Asia as far as India, most bluethroats arrive to their breeding grounds in mid-May, and today I was lucky to spend some time with this beautiful bird.

måndag 23 maj 2011

Norwegian Lemmings - Lemenår

The Norwegian Lemming (Lemmus lemmus) is perhaps the most typical Scandinavian mammal. It`s distribution is being restricted to Norway, Sweden, Finland, making it endemic to Scandinavia. It may also be found in the westernmost areas of northern Russia like the Kola peninsula.

The population cycle of lemmings fluctuates dramatically, and if conditions are right, the population may rise to very high levels and in 2011 there has been many reports of lemmings from all over Norway indicating that this is one of the "lemming-years".

I therefore went out looking for this characteristic species in the inland of Troms, and sure enough, as soon as I had left the coast where I live, the roads were full of road-killed lemmings, but also many on the move and they could be seen in all sorts of areas and habitats including tidal zones where they were running like little "slippers" among wading birds like dunlins, red knots and oystercatchers..

It`s a wonderful species to see and with such high numbers of lemmings there is also a good chance that many other species will benefit from all the additional food like e.g. owls, birds of prey and arctic foxes to mention a few.

Norwegian Lemming (Lemmus lemmus)

On the run...

Norwegian lemming (Lemmus lemmus)

Many lemmings don`t survive when they cross the roads

Norwegian lemming (Lemmus lemmus)

onsdag 11 maj 2011

Solar Eclipse at Midnight !

In three weeks time (on 1 June) a very special and exclusive event will take place for those of us who live in the far North - A Solar Eclipse in the middle of the night!

This event can, of course, only be seen in areas located above the Arctic Circle where the sun doesn`t set during night. Here in Tromsø, the midnight sun period is "officially" between 20 May - 22 July, so the eclipse of the sun will happen right in the middle of the midnight sun-period.

In more detail, the solar eclipse will begin 22.43 (local time) on 01 June and at 23.33 the sun will reach the point of greatest eclipse. The end of the eclipse will be at 00.24 (local time) on 02 June. Click the headline above for more details on the NASA Eclipse Web Site.

The Sun will be eclipsed by approximately 60% at the point of greatest eclipe, so the event should look something like this (a picture from an earlier partial solar eclipse from Tromsø):

REMEMBER NEVER EVER too look directly at the Sun as it can cause permanent eye damage. Sun glasses IS NOT ENOUGH. In Norway, proper glasses for watching the eclipse can be ordered here: http://www.astrobutikken.no/storefront.php?c1=1

A place with a clear view of the Northern horizon will be the best place to watch the eclipse as the Sun`s altutide will only be 3 degrees.

Mark your calendar with the details and prepare yourself to witness a very rare pheneomenon - what could be better than sitting under the midnight sun on a summer evening and as a bonus get a solar eclipse? Good luck everyone with the weather and let`s hope for a wonderful evening!

måndag 2 maj 2011

Cutest in Norway?

Today I had a nice meeting with one of our smallest and most cute mammals, the Northern Red-backed Vole (Rødmus/Rödsork), feeding on the first plant buds of the spring.

The Northern Red-backed Vole (Myodes rutilus, former Clethrionomys rutilus) is found in most of Northern Norway down to the county Nordland in the south, where the similar species Bank vole (Myodes glareolus) has it`s northernmost distribution limit. The two are easily separated by the very short and thick tail of Northern Red-backed voles.