It is amazing the transformation that is taking place up here – very suddenly it seems. Despite the air temperature hovering around zero during the day and going down to minus 10C at night the heat from the sun during the long daylight hours has been causing a dramatic melting of the snow and ice. The strong wind no doubt helps with some major evaporation of moisture.
A few days ago I was walking along a usual route of mine to get back to my abode when I suddenly sank right up to my waist in the deep snow. I had not realised that it was so deep at that point as it was on a slope and the top, hard crust had softened during the day. It was hilarious trying to extract myself and I ended up having to crawl several meters on hands and knees !
All sorts of interesting things are appearing from beneath the deep snow but unfortunately a huge amount of garbage/rubbish too. People don’t seem to take much care with their rubbish and I don’t think that the municipal collection if very efficient during the winter ! Also lots of puddles and mud about as nothing is paved up here. I have had to buy myself a pair of gum boots (rubber boots to the Canadians) for the first time in many years !
A few days ago I also suddenly heard, even from inside the apartment, the chirping of birds – a very unusual sound after many months of nothing. Outside it sounded like a big flock of birds was about but it turned out to be only a few Snow Buntings. They are early arrivals and very vociferous hence seeming like many of them around. The Wikipedia entry says that it is a member of the longspur family and describes it as an arctic specialist, with a circumpolar Arctic breeding range throughout the northern hemisphere, so it doesn’t migrate too far South for the winter. I managed to get a few good shots of one with my zoom lens. The ubiquitous seagulls have also started arriving in the last couple of days although not yet in great numbers – and not too noisy – and I have also seen a few Canada geese flying over.
Talking of the long daylight hours – a few days ago also marked the start of two months of perpetual daylight. It is an incredible sight to see the sun setting towards the horizon but continuing to hover above it throughout what is normally the night hours, simply moving from west to east and rising to move in a wide southerly arc during the normal day hours. I have not yet made the effort to stay up for a full 24 hours but something I should experience for the experience ! Fortunately I have a good black-out blind on my bedroom window so can sleep through the day-lit night.
More details about the Snow Bunting on Wikipedia