onsdag 14. mai 2014

The strange and the beautiful!

I have heard my share of comments about how strange I am due to the fact that I am passionate about birds, and that I spend as much as possible of my spare time to search for, and look at these feathered creatures. But this week I got to see, once again, one of the birds that really could be posted on any wall, and even People who are not truly into birds would go; "Thats a really cool bird". I have also gotten to see one of those who you really need to be "above averge" interested in birds to enjoy!

First, the colours of the Northern Shoveler (Skjeand) will make most perople look an extra time time at the male. But possibly the most interesting feature of the bird to most people is the strange beak. The strange shovel-shape makes it stand out among most other birds. To see a pair of these here in the High Arctic is just amazing to me. When I saw a pair of them up here last year it was 16 years since the species was seen up here the last time. Now I was once again sat together With them, and this time they were feeding only about Three meters away from me. It was a truly amazing experience!

Not the usual place to find Northern Shovelers, in a ice-covered pond on Spitzbergen, With a background of piles of coal and snow-covered Mountains. 

A truly spectacular array of colours on the back and wings of this species!

The Wind made the male display some of his feathers.

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She had an itch....

Wonderful colours in the late day sun....

I know a couple of people who are "Gull-heads". These are birders who know lots about gulls, and how to separate the different species, which is really dificult With these closely related species. As a result of these people I too have become very interested in gulls, and up here I have gotten to know a few species that People at home dont see as often as I do. The one gull that I found this week is probably a hybrid between European Herring Gull (Gråmåke) and Glaucous Gull (Polarmåke). This hybrid have actually got its own "name", Viking Gull (Vikingmåke). This individual, on top of being a hybrid, has got a wing-pattern that led me to think of Thayers Gull (Eskimomåke), wich is a real rarity in Europe. But very little black colour on top of the flight feathers, and allmost no black, just grey, on the underside of the flight feathers made me sure of my identification. If I am strange due to my interests, I am happy to be so! :)

Posing as a European Herring Gull (Gråmåke)

Showing restricted black in the primaries.

Showing the "Thayers-like" pattern in the primaries fairly well.

Before it shows the pale underside of the primaries.

Other than this I almost got hit by a Brambling (Bjørkefink) which was chased by the resident Snowbunting (Snøspurv) which took it for a competitor for the breeding rights!

lørdag 10. mai 2014

Finally! Spring has arrived in the High Arctic!

Suddenly, four days ago, spring came to Spitzbergen! Most places you will have a transition between winter and spring, but here it just appeared out of a snowstorm! I havent been doing too much birdwatching before this, but now my hopes of seeing new and interesting species up here are renewed tenfold!

Spring brought With it the first Pink-footed Geese (Kortnebbgås), a European Golden Plover (Heilo) and a pair of Mallards (Stokkand). This is my fifth and sixth Mallard up here, nad it is my first female, so I was quite happy to see these. Other people have seen Redwing (Rødvingetrost), Song Trush (Måltrost), Redpoll (Gråsisik), Shoveler (Skjeand) and Tufted Duck (Toppand) the last few days, so I guess I will have to be out looking now. :) Hopefully I will be getting better photos soon of the birds that are out there waiting for me.

Pair of Mallards on a very cloudy day and at quite som distance.....

Glaucous Gull Red/White ZS, ringed in Longyearbyen in 2007