Tuesday 10 April 2012

In praise of Kittiwakes…

The furthest point from home on our trip was Vardø, at the eastern end of the north shore of Varangerfjord. With snow squalls blasting through the few streets as we arrived, it felt something like the end of the world – and that was in daylight. Imagine what it must be like in near 24-hour darkness through the winter. Brings a whole new meaning to the word ‘bleak’! I shall try to never complain about cold weather in the UK again.

However, once the snow stopped, some weak sunshine had emerged, and we’d arranged our boat trip to Hornøya, there was time for a bit of birding and photography around the town. Rock Pipits, Hooded Crows and Ravens were active around the harbour, but the clear highlight was a Kittiwake colony on traditional Norwegian wood-faced buildings. There was always so much going on, birds coming and going, squabbling with neighbours, greeting their returning mates, getting a drink from snowy rooftops, and gliding effortlessly around overhead. I could happily go back and spend a bit more time there and take even more photos…


A couple of these photos were taken on Hornøya itself, where the Kittiwake colony was much larger – probably over 1000 birds. These were fairly regularly being scared witless by a visiting Gyrfalcon – the resulting pandemonium and chaos was quite a spectacle!


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