Arctic Norway, Day 5, 10 May 2011 - Vardø to Kongsfjord & Kjølnes Lighthouse

Martin joined us today after a flight in the previous evening. With news that the coastal ferry known as the Hurtigruten wasn't an option due to high seas we needed to make the drive to Kongsfjord. This meant going back along the shores of the Varangerfjord to Vararangerbotn and then heading north along the Tana valley. This of course gave us some birding opportunities en-route. It seemed a shame not to stop in Vadsø as we were passing so we had another gawp at Steller's Eiders, this time with several Long-tailed Ducks. 

Long-tailed Duck, Vadsø

Steller's Eiders,Vadsø

Steller's Eiders,Vadsø

We notched up more or less the same species as before along the shore of the fjord. White-tailed Eagle numbers were down to just 15 in the spot from yesterday but nearby 2 gorgeous Otters entertained us just offshore. We couldn't resist another stop in Skallelv village where the feeders now hosted 4+ Arctic Redolls, just 1 Mealy Redpoll and presumably the same male Brambling as yesterday. Our long drive gave us another Shorelark, c300 Snow Buntings, 3 Rough-legged Buzzards, a close-up Red Fox and loads of Reindeer before a couple of unsuccessful searches for Hawk Owl in the Tana  valley as we headed north towards Kongsfjord.

birding in the Tana Valley

Arctic Redpoll, Skallelv

Red Fox, Varanger

After checking into the lovely Kongsfjord Guesthouse and having a very late lunch of reindeer meatballs we all headed back to the bus and made the 30 minute drive west to Kjølnes Lighthouse for some seawatching. This area was the furthest north we ventured and truly felt like it was on the edge of the world! Nothing stood between us and the North Pole except miles of icy sea. Seawatching in the lea of the lighthouse was excellent. Not necessarily for variety but certainly quality and volume - 1000+ Fulmars of which c70% were 'blue' phase birds, 4 Arctic Skuas, 6 White-billed Divers, 2 Glaucous Gulls, c6 Brunnich's Guillemots, several Puffins, a Gannet and many Black Guillemots. 

 Glaucous Gull, Kjølnes Lighthouse 

 Kjølnes Lighthouse 

 near Kjølnes Lighthouse 

 Oystercatcher, Kjølnes Lighthouse 

 Tormod enjoying his dried fish! Kjølnes Lighthouse

 Seawatching, Kjølnes Lighthouse 

Back in the welcoming warmth of the guesthouse we were warmly welcomed by Asa and treated to a superb dinner of cod followed by baked apples and plenty of wine.




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