søndag 8. juni 2014

The worlds most trusting bird?

When you see a bird, normally it will try to avoid getting close to you. Except for birds being fed in cities and chicks that havent learned yet, this is usually how it is, but not up here at the top of the World! The Red Phalarope (Polarsvømmesnipe) is a truly beautiful bird, and the fact that the female is the one who fight for males and who let the male deal With incubating and chick-rearing makes its history interesting as well. A short trip in the valley with a friend ended up in another great series of photos on this stunning species. When I walked down to the pair they were about seven meters away, and when I sat down next to the pond they were about five meters away. This is a great distance to photograph birds at, and the only problem with these birds are that they dont act like other birds. They both came swimming towards me, and I had to start to back up because they were suddenly within the three meters distance I need for my 500mm to focus. This is great to experience, and I love it every time I get to have such an encounter with such a great creature. 

Red Phalarope female

Red Phalarope male

The happy couple!
Lots of Brent Geese have allso visited the valley lately, so I had to have at least one pic of one of them. :)
Adult Brent Goose, subspecies hrota
Being out enjoying nature and wildlife together with others who are passionate about the same as me is something I truly appreciate, and when I manage to fill up their wish-list of birds I feel like I have managed to fullfill a proper task. On this trip I was out driving with a woman who works as a guide on one of the cruises around the island. I met her the day before, when she told me that the bird she really wanted to see was the King Eider (Praktærfugl). I remembered this when I drove by a couple who was feeding just next to the road, so I went to town and picked her up so she could meet them. We ended up having seen five or six pairs in the end, and the pair I have photographed here were lying just four meters away from us. And when I wanted to show her the Red Phalaropes they were really in spring-mood, of the five pairs we got to see, thre of them were prepairing the next generation of phalaropes with rapid wingbeats..... All of these colorful birds, in the midle of the Arctic, its truly amazing!
King Eider male

King Eider female
And to finish of this drive we found this male Long-tailed Duck (Havelle) next to the road. She was used to seing them in winter-plumage, so seing him in this transition-plumage was something she appreciated.
Long-tailed Duck male

mandag 2. juni 2014

The end of may, and soon summer will be here!

As may was going towards its end I knew that now was the time that is often the most productive when it comes to rarities! And, even though all the birds I got to see may not have been the rarest of them all, I still felt pretty good about them all. I do live at the top of the World, and I can not expect too many strange birds mis-navigating all teh way up here. :)

The first Pictures this time is of a bird that I thought might have been a rarity, but that showed to be one of the real common ones in disguise.... The Pink-footed Goose (kortnebbgås) appear here in huge numbers each year, and some of them resemble their close cousins in appearance. So after having looked for quite some time at this individual through my binoculars it finally showed that it was not actually a Great White-fronted Goose (Tundragås) that had been seen earlier in the valley, but "just" a Pink-footed Goose with white around its beak.....

Pink-footed Goose, imitating a Great White-fronted Goose :)

The same day, the 21st of May, I got to see a bird up here that has eluded me at several occasions. As I was driving I got aware of a quite large wader trying to hide in the tall dead grass. I stopped the car at the side of the road, and my first Whimbrel (småspove) on Svalbard was making an appearance in my camera. This species have been in teh vicinity of Longyearbyen several times when Ive been up here, but has allways vanished before I got to see it.

Whimbrel trying to hide in the grass.

After landing I managed to get a shot of its white wedge on the back.

Then, on the 23rd I got to see a bird through the window of my car that I had never thought I would see up here! In the corner of my eye I got to see a large black bird that was flying away from me! Immediately I said to my passenger; "Thats a Raven (ravn), isn't it? Yes, that's a Raven!" He later told me that the experience of being a passenger when I tried to get in front of the bird to get pictures was not the safest experience he had had.... This was the third photo-documented Raven for the Svalbard islands.

No doubt about it, its a Raven!

On the 26th I got to finally photograph a Great White-fronted Goose (tundragås) up here! I had been looking for this individual for a few days now, and this is the first of this species that have actually been at photo-range. The sad part is that I had some wrong settings on my camera, and the Pictures will never win any awards for being great...... But the bird is documented!

The Great White-fronted Goose wouldnt stop before there was about 100 meters to the car!

The other special bird I found this day was another hybrid. This time it was a Common Eider x King Eider (Ærfugl x praktærfugl). This specimen will never win any beauty-awards, but still it is a special bird. :) It is probably a 2cy (2. year) bird, and it will be interesting to see if it appears next year, because the colors of this individual are not of the prettiest! And again, my camera-settings were not good, so teh Pictures are out of focus....

Common Eider x King Eider

Together with a pair of King Eiders.

The final pictures of this blog-post are of a pair of Whimbrels (småspove) that have lingered around for a few days. All three Whimbrels Ive seen this month are of the Eurasian subspecies, so I am still wishing for an American one to show me that it has no white wedge on its back.

Two Whimbrels together.