Finnmark Lakes and rivers 2

Subject: Finnmark Lakes and rivers 2
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Wed, 19 Jun 2002 16:20:12 +0200


Day three started out with a short detour to a fjordic habitat, i.e. the
peninsula of Nesseby along the Varanger-fjord (A bit of a pleonastic
name,this, as -angr is an old Nordic word signifying -fjord), famous among
birders for its  phalarope-pool. The whole area is now protected as a bird
habitat, but one is still allowed to walk around on the grassy peninsula.
The pool this time mainly contained Common Eiders with the first young of
the year I have seen in 2002, the ubiquitous Tufted Ducks, some wigeons,
and fewer phalaropes than usual, maybe 10-15. Ruffs foraged in the grasland
around and a pair of Redshanks clearly had young nearby, as they were still
more nervous and loquacious than usual for this species. Kittiwakes flew
across regularly (There is a large colony farther out in the fjord), and
more surprising on this quiet day, a Fulmar sailed around the bight on
stiff wings. Along the coast , again as usual, many Ringed plovers, and
further out on the mudflats still beautifully red Bar-tailed Godwits, that
nest on the marshes around. In the protected 'fjord-bottom' in Varangerbotn
large flocks of eiders loafed, among them also Steller's Eiders, a
White-tailed Eagle patroled to see if there might be any cripples among
them, and a pair of White-billed Divers (Yellow-billed Loons) lifted their
ivory bills upwards as always.

But this was a detour;  I was now on my way on the other, southern side of
the fjord, to the Pasvik valley and the idyllic village of Svanvik some 30
km south of Kirkenes; just across the Russian border here lies the eye-sore
city of Nikel, where the nickel-melter alone spews pout more SO2 than all
of Norway together! No wonder the woods here are brown and crippled!
Fortunately the prevailing winds are away from Svanvik, and the Norwegian
side of the river is therefore much less damaged.

During the meetings we used the evenings (always light here, with the
mid-night sun) in order to look around on the nearby lake-like large bights
in the Pasvik river, which forms the border with Russia (The nature reserve
now exists on both sides on the river, and cooperation is excellent, which
some of the border-guard watch towers being converted into bird-viewing
towers). At Utnes , where we saw the imported Musk Rats swim and were shown
their large 'towers', a small islet close to shore this year is taken into
use by a colony of at least 50 pairs of Little Gulls, sharing the islet
with Black-headed and Common Gulls, a few Arctic Terns, and once more
Tufted Ducks. Close by also Goldeneyes, European Wigeons, Smews,
Red-breasted Mergansers and Shovelers swim around, and a Black-throated
Loon furnishes further variety. A large house close by has House Martins
under the roof (Not all that common so far north), and Sand Martins mingle
with the House Martins in the air over the peninsula; I even see a single
Swift. Bluethroats sing everywhere also here, but a Wood Pigeon is more
uncommon, a newcomer from further south. An evening walk in the pine forest
yields some of the local taiga specialties, Siberian Tits and  Siberian Jay
(funny birds!!), and I even find a Three-toed Woodpwecker for my year list.
On the last morning of the conference we have an excursion before
breakfast, starting at six a.m., when the Short-eared Owls are still in
full activity catching voles in the small fields along the river; one
quarrels with a newcomer from the day shift, a wonderfully 'scenic'
male  blue-grey Hen Harrier. (We also see Merlin, Kestrel, and Rough-legged
Hawk ; clearly there are voles for everybody). A small field is full of
Bean Geese,and has also a few Lapwings, and a stealthy approach to another
shallow river bight is rewarded with Bar-tailed Godwits, the here very
common Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Spotted Redshanks (another eastern
specialty), Common Sandpiper, Temminck Stints, Phalaropes, Ringed Plovers,
Golden Plovers, and again various ducks, while a perky Whinchat also swells
my yearlist. From a vantage point we finally also add Common Cranes, seen
on their nest from far away by scope, before return, breakfast, and adieu
to the many old friends of my by now almost 40 years in the Ornithological
Union of Norway.

Arriving early in Tana Bru this afternoon I decide to a last detour before
dashing back to Tromsø in a single day the next day, driving some 80 km
north towards the Ice Sea coast, but stopping at the ca 350m high pass in
the road to Berlevåg. This is not very high, of course, but it still looks
like a real pass: the tree line here is at only ca 200 m, ca one third of
the land is still snow-covered, and there is as yet no sign at all of green
vegetation, only the ubiquitous melting water running everywhere gives the
semblance of life. When one stops the car and goes out, it takes a little
time, but then there appears to be life many places anyway: in the dead low
willows along the small streams the gorgeous Lapland Longspurs  (or
Buntings, if you prefer) utter their interrogative whistles and now and
then break out in their tinkling song, sometimes getting so carried away
that they carry out a parachuting air dance and sing a much longer song
strophe. Another parachutist here are the Pipits, mainly Meadow Pipits, but
also with a few Red-throated Pipits among them. And a third 'butterfly
singer' with a very special display flight is the Temminks Stint, which
occurs here in high densities. Still higher up circles the 'weather-lamb',
the displaying Snipe. A much more impressive flyer still is the Long-tailed
Skua, also a characteristic bird of these parts. In the willows Bluethroats
sing also here, and a bit more surprising also regularly Redwings, which I
had not quite expected so high above the tree line. In the back ground one
hears the melancholy cries of the Golden Plovers, which prefer somewhat
more dry ridges, and the interrogative tueet of the Ringed Plovers.

A few km further along, where the roads to Båtsfjord and Berlevåg split,
there are some smaller and larger lakes which are rich in birdlife. One has
at least twinty phalaropes in the water, as well as Ruffs displaying on its
banks. Another one has a Long-tailed Duck yodeling and displaying, some
Red-breasted Mergansers and Wigeons (and of course Tufted Ducks), and even
a pair of Greater Scaups, while a third one yields displaying Dunlins, Wood
Sandpipers and a Redshank, and the first Turnstone of the entire trip,
surprisingly far away from the sea .

On the way back I stop at the mouth of the Tana River, where the Arctic
Terns (that also attack the car), Oystercatchers and Temminck's Stints nest
on the dead-end dirt road itself (Some friendly soul has put stones around
the nests, so that they are less easily overrun), and where Arctic Skuas
(Parasitic Jaegers) and Whimbrels clearly also nest nearby. A wonderful day
in clear, crisp cool and sunny weather, so that everything looks new and
fresh, and one would suppose that nobody could resist the lure of nature.

But the next day i dash the 850 km home in a single dash, and prove to
myself, what I so often see in others. it is easily possible to drive
through this wonderful nature without seeing a thing!!

In the third part I'll give again the list of birds seen during this trip.
It was  a scratching-the-surface-trip, mostly keeping near the roads and
stopping for shorter periods only; but thereby it may also give a good idea
of what a first-time visitor with normal birding skills and time-investment
is likable to see during a shorter visit to Finnmark.

                                                                Wim Vader, 
Tromsø Museum
                                                                9037 Tromsø, 

Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • Finnmark Lakes and rivers 2, Wim Vader <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU