Thursday 5 April 2012

Norway: Day Three - Steller's Eider

One of the target birds in the Baltics last year had been Steller's Eider, and although I had scored with a wintering flock of the tip of Saaremaa Island, the views had been slightly distant. Vanagerfjord is currently hosting thousands of Steller's, mostly in large rafts further out from shore, but there are always smaller groups knocking around the harbours. These were what we hoped to catch up with, and hopefully get a few photographs of.

A typical Varangerfjord landscape

Of all the spots on the fjord, Kiberg - towards the eastern end - worked out the best. Not only were there quite a few birds, but you could get relatively close - though not as close as I would have liked! Patience was required, but by crouching by the side of a building, knees and calves buried in snow, the birds gradually relaxed. There were perhaps 150 of them, with a few Common Eider thrown in, bobbing around, displaying, eating snow, or preening on rocks. I could watch these birds for hours, their apricot flanks and breast contrasting superbly with the masked head and stripy coverts. I'm talking about the drakes of course, not sure I looked at a female.....

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