Advanced course in eiderology

Eiderology: the branch of knowledge that deals with eiders. Yes, branch of knowledge. Or science. And before you ask, no, eiderology doesn’t exist. Or well, didn’t exist until I invented it, two minutes ago. I’ve decided to specialize in this discipline, but more than the scientific aspect, I’m particularly attracted to the graphic aspect of those birds.

Eiders are sea ducks from the northern hemisphere, option Arctic. The most massive species is also the most common one; the Common eider (Somateria mollissima) nests as far south as France and Italy, and is very common in the Baltic Sea or along the coasts of Norway. After a year in Finland and a year in Denmark, it’s a very common sight for me. Remember, I saw this species migrating in Gedser: 1000 birds every hour 😮

Common eider (Somateria mollissima)

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BĂĽtsfjord

BĂĽtsfjord. A small Arctic town, lost somewhere in the north at the end of a fjord (hence the name, maybe?). Isolated from its neighbours by a rugged landscape made of abrupt cliffs and rolling hills, the main activity there seems to be fishing. This industry has attracted workers from 40 different nationalities; many Lithuanians came directly there with their cars, as the registration plates could certify.

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On the high road

With so much snow falling down, I was afraid we couldn’t reach BĂĽtsfjord the day after, for this little town sits in a remote bay, north of the Varanger peninsula. Our host for the night was not very reassuring either, when she said the road went up in the mountains and therefore was not very well cleaned…

As we drove along the fjords, all fears disappeared: the road was perfectly maintained. Sure, we were driving on ice, but that’s what studded tyres are made for.

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Clear skies

After the storm, I woke up at 4 to see the sun rise. I emerged from the house in 50 cm of fresh snow: Sunday morning, a private yard, of course noone had cleaned the way up there. So I made my own trace in the pristine duvet, and roamed the streets of Bjørnevatn, which serenity was only troubled by the din of loaders moving the snow off the road.

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Here are the birds

We checked in at BIRK Husky, a place well known to the birding community for its feeders, which offer great opportunities to meet the local fauna, and particularly the taiga specialities.

Right after waking up, on my way to the toilets, I saw two Siberian tits (Poecile cinctus) at the feeders. A bit later, I spotted three or four squirrels in the vicinity, some chasing each other in the trees while other peacefully enjoyed sunflower seeds from the feeders. That was before birds woke up: usually, they are active at dawn, but that day it seemed that activity peaked a bit later, and the morning was slow to start.

Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris)

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