On Monday the 9th I was again out guiding Roland Saitre, the french nature photographer, around in "my" wilderness. I had gotten news that the Ivory Gull (Ismåke) had been seen in the dogyard again, but the gull avoided us the entire afternoon. What I decided to do then was to give him a full tour of the road-network around Longyearbyen to see what interesting wildlife we could find. He had photographed the Svalbard Ptarmigans (Svalbardrype) two days before, but I knew of some good spots to find them with better backgrounds. This led to us finding about eight birds feeding on a ridge, but as Roland asked; "What are they feeding on?" It looked like if they were feeding on bare ground. Like the reindeers it looks like if they are eating gravel and dirt, but these birds are amazing at finding the little food that is around. Roland got to experience to sit inbetween several Ptarmigans that were happily feeding without bothering to be scared of him being sat just a few metres away. Even I got to take some pictures that I became happy with. The males have now started to blow up the red "eyebrows", and are looking very nice in the combination of pure white, black and red.
When we had spent some time with the Ptarmigans we drove off trying to find the foxes again. Even after several tries in the very best area, they still did not want to come out of hiding. The only thing that I could find that showed that foxes were around were a few tracks. The hunt for foxes after teh outbreak fo rabies last autumn has clearly changed the way the foxes consider people. Roland did a few more pictures of some Reindeers, before we went for some landscape photography. As he said, he is not a landscape-photographer, but when it is as slow as now then he had to think in new ways. And I haveto say that I think he did some pretty good shots. I also took them up onto the Mine 7 mountain. Since I dont understand French, I did not get the full gist of what was being said, but by the look on his daughters face, it was clear that she really liked what she got to see. Quite a few shots of the scenery was taken, and the view was enjoyed by all of us. We then did a few more tries for the foxes, but still they did not want to show, and Roland got to do some more landscape and artistic photography. We found another Svalbard Ptarmigan that was more than willing to show of in teh fading light which turned the bird more orange than white. When I drove them back to where they stay I found two Whalrusses (Hvalross) in playing in the fiord. But not even these two big seals could come close to the experience of seeing an Arctic Fox. But they said it had been a nice trip none-the-less.
Just to tell that the foxes still occur around Longyearbyen, Roland actually found two or three foxes in the same area that we had been searching through, but a couple of days after I had taken them there. And he has got photographic evidence! :)
Here I am posting a few pictures of some of the Ptarmigans I got to photograph during this day.
5 North American Birds with Bizarre Behaviors
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