Arctic Alcids and Arctic Redpolls

and Arctic Weather.

Thursday began in glorious winter wonderland in the Pasvik Valley and ended  in a polar blast as we arrived in Vardø on the Hurtigruten ferry. Arctic Redpoll performed marvelously in the Birkhuskey area, together with trumpeting Northern Bullfinches  Pine Grosbeaks and Siberian Jays. A heard only Lesser Spotted Woodpecker eluded us but the (grey, winter plumaged) Red Squirrels performed well.

pine grosbeak male BirkNot bad ‘bird table birds’. Local bird table held Pine Grosbeak, Arctic and Mealy Redpolls and Northern Bullfinches. Sometimes all at once.

lew and snowballWinter wonderland in the Pasvik Valley and Ian Lew- who I think is prepping a snowball…

arctic redpoll ball 2This Arctic Redpoll had lost it’s tail and put on the best ‘snowball impression’ possible.

arctic redpoll 2 scaryThis was the scariest streaky Arctic Redpoll I could find. Perhaps a 1st winter female? Sure some will react to this one, but in the field it ticked all the right boxes (alongside other Arctics and Mealies) so might do more on this bird at some stage.

arctic redpoll 1and an easier Arctic Redpoll

red squirrelRed Squirrel showing off.

Varanger Fiord

The boat trip across the mouth of Varanger was superb. In our thin transect we mayhem saw up to 10,000 Brunnich’s Guillemots, peppered with a few Little Auks. These are Siberian breeders and up to 600,000 winter and migrate from here. Superb opportunity for constant and multiple flight views alongside the occasional Common Guillemot too.

kirkenes harbour 2The fiord at Kirkenes was full of sea ice

3 plumages Brunnich's guillemot

Brunnich's Guillemot flight 2

Brunnich's and Common Guillemot.1

Brunnich's and Common Guillemot 2.hurti

arriving vardoarriving in Vardø cold and elated after the Brunnich’s Guillemot spectacular


About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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4 Responses to Arctic Alcids and Arctic Redpolls

  1. pets says:

    In the vast icy plains of Artic, we could see many majestic creatures such as these animals. A paradise left unseen and yet we should still appreciate it.

  2. Geoff Laight says:

    Hi Martin
    Great blog and locations, lucky man!
    Interested in your ‘scary streaky arctic redpoll’ because i have a bird in my garden with very similer build and colouration. Would be very interested on your thoughts if you ‘do some work on it’.
    I have been watching lesser and mealy redpolls in my garden for the last 3 winters.As you say you need to come back to them time and again and even then some individuals seem to escape identification,
    Have come to realise ive got a diverse set of birds and currently considering if i have a nortwestern type.
    Regards Geoff Laight

  3. It would be very interesting to see more pics of the “scariest” streaky Arctic Redpoll. I have a hard time seeing this as an Arctic Redpoll but photos can of course be very tricky. What do you mean by “ticked all the right boxes”?

    So I think it would be very interesting if you elaborated further on this particular bird.

    Best wishes and thank you for an exellent blog, Rune Sø Neergaard, Denmark

    • Martin Garner says:

      Hi Geoff and Rune

      yes of course I can understand your interest and questions with this bird A golden rule should be that redpolls should never be identified from a single photo! Undertail coverts, rump and overall plumage tones similar to other Arctic redpoll it was with. Just a streakier bird. and to be honest-saw many streaky Arctic Redpolls. Will follow up at some stage but pretty busy and spring has finally arrived with new birds everyday to distract!

      Cheers Martin

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