Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Varanger, Arctic Norway.

This Friday 5th August five of us will be flying out from Manchester for the first leg of our long journey to Arctic Norway. We will be bird ringing on our site at Nesseby on the North bank of the Varanger Fjord for 10 days. The team of 5 this year are Dave, big Col (little Col could not make it), myself Charlie and two virgins Scott and Paul who have ringed in the Pasvik Valley bordering Russia last year but never at Nesseby. The makings of an excellent experienced team.

The whole purpose of our expeditions is to help our sponsor Tormod Amundsen of http://www.biotope.no promote Varanger as a birding destination. Without his help and generosity this project would never have got off the ground.

In previous years we have caught small numbers of waders and our Norwegian friends have always intimated an earlier visit to Varanger would be beneficial because our normal visit times sees the start of wader migration and the number of birds start to reduce very quickly. The unknown quantity for us is we might be a little early for the start of migration of breeding passerines, in past years we have timed it perfectly and 350 birds in one day was not unusual.

Our ringing site is adjacent to the beach of the Nesseby church in the municipal county of Finnmark which overlooks the Varangerfjorden. The church was built in 1845 and was one of a few to survive  World War 2.

The beach from the church to the ringing site is probably a quarter of a mile, so plenty to go at.

A picture from 2 years ago, our ringing station being set up.The tent is called a Lavvu and is a temporary dwelling used by the Sami people of northern Scandinavia. It lets the indigenous people of the plains of northern Scandinavia and arctic to follow and look after their reindeer herds. It's use is being more commonly used by people who love camping.


All the birds above and below have been caught from Nesseby in previous years. I have posted these pictures just as examples to give you a taster of what is possible. Fingers crossed we will have a good time.

Ringed Plover

Our visit this year is earlier than normal. As mentioned above it is intentional because we are hoping there will be plenty of waders to be caught before they start their migration. In previous years we have caught Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper from the beach by the church. We are hoping for a few more species on this trip.

The nominate Willow Warbler trochilus is on the right and acredula found in northern Scandinavia and northern Russia is on the left. Discernible when you have them side by side but not as easy if this is not the case.

The Barred Warbler breeds in temperate regions of central and eastern Europe and winters in tropical Africa, so to get one as far north as Varanger is a rarity indeed. It was also confirmed as a first for Finnmark. That's one of the things I love about ringing you never know what will turn up in the nets.

Not a passerine but birds like this Merlin are always great to catch.

The Siberian Tit is a bird slightly smaller than a Great Tit. It is not rare or uncommon in the Finnmark region of Norway and the north of Russia but numbers caught are not huge 35 were caught last year and about half that many the year before.

Finally we will be there from the 5th to the 15th of August and will be happy to give ringing demonstrations if you should be in the area We are looking forward to seeing our Dutch friends Petra and Frank and Lee and Bernadette from Blighty who travel as part of their holiday to Norway and stay in their camper vans for 4 or 5 nights at Nesseby. Don't forget the biscuits! See you soon.

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