Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Inside the Circle Day 5 - End of the Road

The long days, continuous light and 'night' singing Willow Warber outside of the window were beginning to take their toll on my energy levels. Another overcast day. Plan of the day was to follow the remainder of the road around the north coast of Varangerfjord. This would give me opportunity to call in at Vardo and check out to the trips across to the sea bird colonies on the island of Hornoya.

Somewhere between Vadso and Vardo the light improved and I pulled off the road having spotted an Arctic Skua. Time for another long crawl which again allowed me to get close to the bird.
A pale phase bird flew past, and the skua took flight but not before gliding close-by for the now familiar inspection.


The rest of road to Vardo provided some interesting wildlife with white-tail eagles, skua and reindeer but all at distance. To reach Vardo, you have to travel through a tunnel. If you imagine driving through an oversized pipe with dim lighting that almost creates a strobe effect, you will appreciate how this felt like being in a computer game.

The office at the Harbour gave me all the information for the trips out to Hornoya with the first departure at 9am. I decided to make the trip in a couple of days when hopefully the weather would follow the forecast. Back through the tunnel of fun I came to a junction and a sign to Hamningberg, an abandoned fishing village at the end of the road.

The drive to Hamningberg is an experience as you travel through an almost lunar landscape. The bird life was sparse except for the occasional Wheatear disappearing behind a boulder and the unfamilar sound of a singing Redwing in some willow scrub. In fact this part of day involved very little bird photography and turned in to a bit of a road trip through an endless rock-scape. A brief stop was made for a Golden Plover in the drizzle.

The day was passing quickly and it was time to follow the coast road back south. A stop off en route at 'Ruff Bay' was needed to put some more photos on the memory card. The ruff were in elusive mood and my attention was drawn to the more familiar Ringed Plover.
A small group of Red-necked Phalarope came feeding along the seaweed at the water's edge. They kept me amused with their hyperactive feeding behaviour which saw them spinning across the surface, at a distance that was too close for the lens.





The highlight of the day came on the last part of my journey back to the accommodation. I passed a Short-eared Owl on a fence post at the side of the road. So I drove on for a short distance, pulled over, adjusted the camera settings, turned the car round and returned. I pulled up slowly to the post and the owl stayed put. The bird seemed to be distracted by a skua above.


When the skua had passed, the owl sat for a few moments looking straight at me with those amazing penetrating eyes. A wonderful way to end a fairly unproductive day.


holdingmoments said...

Top set as always Rich.
That Short Eared Owl is stunning. And those eyes.......hate to be a mouse lol

Rocket Man said...

Absolutely stunning photos! Thank you so much for taking me along on your trip and allowing me to enjoy the birds you found. As a lifelong outdoorsman and conservationists I really appreciate your philosophy regarding wildlife.

Matt Latham said...

Loving this series. That Owl is something else!

Anthony Dixon said...

Stunning set of images Richard, all oustanding.
While I think most people would pick the Owl shots as their favorites, I'm going to go for the Golden Plover in the rain...Excellent use of what I guess must have been pretty poor light and a very atmospheric photograph.

Linda Yarrow said...

I love these pictures of the Short Eared Owl. What I love about these owls is their eyes, they look like they have some black eye makeup smudged around their eyes.

FarshadPix said...

really amazing photos

Crafty Green Poet said...

wow! Wonderful photos of short eared owls and phalaropes!

0ceana said...

Fantastic capture...Each one are beautiful

Rich Steel said...

Many thanks. I guess those glaring eyes are the last thing many a rodent sees.




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