The sun was still high in the sky even after lingering over a late dinner. In a effort to fight our arrival-day jet lag, Rich proposed hiking the steep hillside to Prestvannet, a lake at the highest point in Tromsø. Always up for a good walk I agreed, even knowing he had an ulterior motive.
We could hear the birds before even seeing them. Despite being loons, the wails emanating from their throats bore no resemblance to the yodels I am used to hearing. These were red throated loons. Rare in Minnesota, they have been eluding Rich for years. No longer. At least 30 populated the small lake.
I’m no birder, but I couldn’t help but be captivated by the quirky behavior of these loons. A handful would swarm, rear up then forge ahead as if in a race, their bodies skimming the water with beaks pivoting. All the while, emitting what Cornell Ornithologists call a prehistoric “gayorworrk” sound. Meanwhile, their cohorts around the lake chimed in with a chorus of cries that sounded like kittens mewing. Then it would all stop. And repeat.
It was entertaining enough that I followed Rich up the hill again in this morning for a repeat performance. With the warm sun on my back and dappling the quiet water, it was all the more pleasant. And this time I could truly see those red throats. With better light for photography, Rich was in his element. Even I pointed my camera at these exotic specimens.
Want to hear the cacophony? Rich captured it well in this video.
It was an unexpected way to spend a chunk of our time in Tromsø, but it didn’t keep me from meandering the rest of the city. Last time we were here was in the dead of winter, when we came to chase the northern lights and go cross-country skiing. I enjoyed the contrast with flowers blooming, long hours of sunshine and the relative warmth. Ok, so the high was in the mid-50s today. Sort of like a Duluth summer day.
The harbor is always a favorite.
I love the colorful buildings.
We are staying right across from the Tromsø Cathedral.
A mix of the old and new. Tromsø’s starkly modern library stands in the middle of the quaint shopping district, with the Arctic Cathedral across the harbor in the background.
It was well worth planning a recovery day in Tromsø. We figured we’d need the time to sort ourselves out, get some rest and do a bit of sightseeing. We just didn’t count on the red throats. They turned out to be the highlight of the day. Who knows what we might find tomorrow, when we pick up our rental bikes and start out Arctic Islands Cycling Tour.