Arctic Ocean Seawatch

Day One: Part Two

This is still the same day. Day one! We left Vadsø harbour eventually heading north via Nesseby and Varangerbotn. We searched in vain for Hawk Owl, but birds such as Arctic Redpoll, Brambling, Rough-legged Buzzard and White-tailed Eagle didn’t fail. Singing Redwing  and Fieldfare entertained too. Here’s where we ended Kjølnes Lighthouse, 6 km east of Berlevag:

Its worth zooming in and out on the map to get an idea of its location.

If you scroll down to the end- there’s a video clip of me waffling on about how great a seawatching place it is. First some en-route scenes:

Rough-legged Buzzard (©Steve Rogers) were regularly picked up from our bus. This one, an adult male I think, on account o’ them tail bars and bit more Common Buzzard-like body plumage.

Nesseby. Made more famous by a certain Mr G. Catley and a Soft-plumaged Petrel photographed from here in June 2009. In strong easterly winds it is perhaps one of Europe top seawatch spots- as yet little appreciated. Varanger Fjord is the largest in Norway and birds funnel in, reach Varangerbotn at the west end, and turn around flying close inshore past Nesseby. Fly-by Soft Plumaged Petrel, Spectacled Eider and possible Tufted Puffin bode well for future seawatches off here! The bushes look a good place for Eastern Palearctic passerine vagrants too…

While Hawl Owl searching, I left the chaps watching Northern Golden Plover and Whimbrel and found some exquisite singing Arctic Redpolls and more Brambling. Can’t complain.

It was  bit overcast and windy further highlighting how bleak and harsh it can be.

Starting to get used to regular Reindeer sightings. Indeed numbers may be too high, as there seems insufficient food to support them in the winter. Good news for sea eagles though. many Reindeer cadavers seems likely factor in increased numbers of Eagles. The rear deer is marked by Sami herders.

Kjølnes Lighthouse. North coast watching mecca. In about an hour and half in force 6 NW we clocked up some 6,000 Fulmar (c70% Blue Fulmar), 8 White-billed Divers (including flock of 7- most summer plumage adults) several Glaucous Gulls, plenty of auks of 4 species including adult summer and (presumed) first summer  Brünnich’s Guillemot, 70 Purple Sandpiper and White-tailed Eagle over.

It looked like this:

It sounded like this:

and this is what we ate: James McCallum models the year old piece of Cod. Caught last summer, dried outside, frozen outside over winter. Smashed with a lump of rock to loosen it up before our eyes and passed around as a refreshing snack!

Landward view of Kjølnes as James looks up at a Glaucous Gull flying over the lighthouse.


About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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2 Responses to Arctic Ocean Seawatch

  1. jonathan lethbridge says:

    This is an inspirational trip!

  2. Paul Hackett says:

    Good to see you doing what you love Martin, catch up soon

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