For the third time, my birdwatching friend Torleif and I went to the recreational area and former fort called Kvarven, which looks out over the city harbor and fjord and various mountains and islands to the north and west. Those islands are what make Bergen a safe harbor, protected from the worst of the North Sea weather.
We were parked by 5:30 and on our way up the paved foot path. The woods on either side were full of sound. It was like standing in the middle of an orchestra as it played. Torleif is used to identifying birds by their song, the equivalent of being able to pick out each individual musician in the orchestra. I was in the position of not hearing the difference between a bass and cello or a sax and clarinet. But no matter. I could still stand in awe at being so completely surrounded by the sounds of birds, as the dawn sky slowly brightened from a yet unseen sun.
I had made the sandwiches, Torleif brought the coffee. Breakfast was at 6 am, with a view over the island Askøy, now attached to the mainland with a pretty bridge. The temperature was just above freezing and we had both put on wool underwear and lots of layered clothing. I also brought a blanket to put over my lap. We ate and talked and with occassional silences to listen to a bird.
After breakfast we hiked a little farther up, on narrow trails winding over rocks and through woods, to the spot we had hiked to last year. We had heard the sound of a black grouse cock, carried to us by the wind. We had hoped to see it, like we had the first time we went birdwatching at Kvarven together. No such luck. But by now the sun was up high enough to add some warmth, so we found some sunny rocks, and finished off the coffee.
We heard and saw oodles of European robins (not to be confused with American robins which are a type of thrush), and Torleif was amazed at the number. That didn’t mean I was able to get a picture, though. This year, too, the most cooperative bird for this photographer was a greenfinch.