Arctic Norway, Day 3, 8 May 2011 - Nesseby, Vadsø & Ekkerøy

This morning began with another unusual breakfast ingredient - pike! Following that I had a short stroll while we were waiting for the minibus to leave. In the area around our guesthouse I found a female Lapland Bunting and a group of c10 Waxwings flew through trilling noisily. 

Our first scheduled halt of the day was at Nesseby church which is at the base of a small headland sticking out into the fjord (and famous for once hosting a fly-by Soft-plumaged Petrel!). Today there was nothing quite so exotic but nonetheless a bird that was close to the top of my wanted list - Steller's Eider was present and c35 individuals loafing on an island off the western shore was the first encounter of many with this attractive and very special species. The usual Common Eider were present in good numbers together with a single Shag, several Kittiwakes passing, 2 Waxwings, 3 White-tailed Eagles soaring overhead and finally 2 Arctic Skuas harrassing the Kittiwakes. 

Kittiwake, Nesseby

Nesseby Church

Continuing east we soon reached the town of Vadsø and made a beeline for the harbour. This spot has to be the Steller's Eider capital of the Western Paleacrtic! We saw and photographed at least 250 even though a single Coot was more to Tormod's liking as it is a scarce brid up here! About 80 Tundra Bean Geese were also seen in the area as well as numerous Common Eiders, several Red-breasted Mergansers and 3 Rough-legged Buzzards on the approach to the town. We then had lunch of cod in the only hotel in town where we were all treated to hand rubbing (!) from a very attentive restaurant manageress! Back out into the cold again and we headed for the nearby headland of Vadsøya for a wander and search for migrants. This was a great spot where we were lucky enough to find 2 Arctic Redpolls, a group of 8 Lapland Buntings (including a nice showy male), a single (even more showy) Snow Bunting, c30 Greenfinches, Redwings and a Tufted Duck. 

Birding Vadsøya

Common Eider, Vadsø

Common Eider, Vadsø

Common Gull, Vadsø

Hooded Crow,Vadsø 

Lapland Bunting, Vadsøya

Snow Bunting,Vadsøya 

Steller's Eider, Vadsø

Steller's Eider, Vadsø

A brief stop near the village of Golnes gave us our first Velvet Scoter and a nice group of c40 Purple Sandpipers. 

Purple Sandpiper, near Golnes 

Purple Sandpipers, near Golnes

Our overnight stop was at the island of Ekkerøy. This island is connected to the mainland by a spit and road. First things first though, we made a roadside stop just beyond Ekkerøy where we managed a snow white Arctic Hare as Redwings sang from the tops of stunted birch trees and an out of place Chiffchaff sang briefly. Back at Ekkerøy we had c50 Knot, Redshank, Whimbrel, Snipe and numerous Kittiwakes gathering nesting material from the beach and taking it back to their breeding colony where we enjoyed their antics when a roving Raven nabbed one and proceeded to eat it on a tideline rock! Best of all however was a fairly distant Orca picked out in the fjord and scoped well. This was a new one for me and very welcome indeed. To complete the picture were c15 Black Guillemots loafing offshore with a single Long-tailed Duck. 
Our accommodation on Ekkerøy was in 2 lovely cabins and due to the remote location outside caterers had prepared a lamb pasta dish which we all hungrily devoured. For me Ekkerøy had a wonderful atmosphere with the cabins having displays of local history in old photographs including tales of burning of local witches!

Ekkerøy accommodation



Redwing near Ekkerøy

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