Tuesday 28 January 2014


Today, My Big Year project ticked species number one hundred for the year! And what a bird it was. I am currently in the far north eastern part of Norway, in a small fishing village called Båtsfjord located on the Varanger penninsula. This is actually as far east as Istanbul, Turkey! Yesterday was a travel day, and I spent 18 hours to get here. Compare this to a trip I made in November last year to the Antarctica, where I spent 22 hours to get to Ushuaia on the very souther tip of Argentina and you get some idea of the challenges and effort it takes to do a Big Year in Norway.

This is my third winter in a row I visit Båtsfjord. The last times has been to do photography of the stunning arctic sea ducks, namely the King eider (praktærfugl) and the Steller's eider (stellerand). This time however, I am here to search for a Snowy owl (snøugle) that was seen here last Friday. I consider this to be one of the most difficult birds to get (at least of the breeding ones in Norway), so when I got to hear about it I had booked my tickets already 15 minutes later.

However, the northeastern Norway is very weather beaten and today was no exeption. It was horribly cold, even for a Norwegian. Temperature was minus 14 celsius, which isn't too bad, but when you add 40-45 knots of wind on top of that it makes your cheeks burn a bit....Too bad weather for searching for the owl though, but I anyway go something to celebrate.

In Båtsfjord, the small eco-tourism company Arctic Tourist has a photography hide for the Arctic sea ducks. We got plenty! About 200 king eiders only a couple of meters away and about 20 Steller's eiders were feeding close as well. Sometimes too close to photograph them (!).

King Eider was indeed a worthy 100th species of the year. Closely followed by the even more stunningly beautiful Steller's eider as number 101.

King eider in stormy conditions

This beautiful bird was a worthy 100th species of the year!

With these images, I was honored to open the photography hide season for Arctic Tourist. Februrary is a very good time to photograph these amazing birds, and there are still some available space during February, while March is starting to be pretty full. So hurry up if you want to photograph the guys close up.

Male Steller's eider - equally fantastic as the king eider.

Other species added to the list was Glaucous gull (polarmåke) and Waxwing (sidensvans). In the evening, the wind eased a little bit, and we went night spotting for the owl without any results except for a red fox and some reindeer as well as northern lights dancing on the sky. Will continue the search the next days, and fingers crossed that this enigmatic bird that has eluded me all these years finally will cross my path.

New species: 4
Total: 103



  1. Past the 100 mark, and then with such fine species! Well done!! Good luck with the Snowy Owl and the next 97 species! Enjoy Varanger! Cheers, Eric

  2. Thanks guys! Will try to post more nice stuff in the days to come.