High tundra

I’m writing from home, in France, and even though temperatures have been very high here, I still don’t remember fondly the weather I faced when I drove accross the mountains of Varanger, going from Berlevåg and Kongsfjord to the Varangerfjord. Hail, wind and two degrees, that’s not how I had envisioned my vacation.

I looked at the hills, hoping to sight a Snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus), but the many patches of snow that remained there turned this task into a virtually impossible endeavour. Oh, and the bird is very rare, though one had been seen close by the same morning.

When I arrived in Gednje, I was not very optimistic. It was cold, it was grey, I didn’t really want to get out of the car… and there were not many birds to be seen. Yet, I crossed the road, and noticed a pair of Long-tailed ducks (Clangula hyemalis) on the pond. Usually, ducks flee when they see a human, but as I lay down on the humid shore and started crawling in their direction, they kept doing their duck business, either resting next to the edge or diving in the middle.

Long-tailed duck (Clangula hyemalis)

Then, they amazed me by coming to me and staying by the shore for long minutes. They were curious, they looked at me constantly, almost shyly, but they didn’t seem frightened.

Long-tailed duck, male
Long-tailed duck, female

The milky sky reflected in the water, and pushed me towards this high-key look, ducks contrasting against the white background.

Long-tailed duck

Long-tailed ducks have complex plumage variations, with three different plumages in a year; if you compare these birds to those I saw in March, you’ll notice the difference immediately. My friend and fellow blogger Jérome likes them a lot; if you happen to read French, I highly recommend a read of his nature adventures. At the moment, he tells the tale of a trip to Québec 😉

Long-tailed duck
Long-tailed duck

The pair of Red-throated divers (Gavia stellata) that occupied the pond was not so tame, and stayed at bay all the time. They also flew around on occasion, as noisy as they were in Nuuksio.

Red-throated diver (Gavia stellata)
Red-throated diver

Previously in this series:

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Bird inventory

11 thoughts on “High tundra

  1. Merci pour la pub ! 😉
    C’est vrai que j’aime bien ces canards, particulièrement en plumage hivernal même si ça court pas les étangs vers chez moi…

    Tes photos sont super cools, faudra vraiment que j’aille faire un tour vers là haut un jour… même si ça manque un peu de Snowy Owl !… Normalement, je passe quelques jours à New York en février, j’ai déjà repéré les spots potentiels où je pourrais le croiser ! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tu passes ton temps de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique ! 😉 Ca se comprend, c’est vrai que l’Amérique a l’air plus propice à l’observation de harfang… mais le Varanger vaut bien le coup aussi 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Apparemment tous les hivers, ils descendent assez bas… j’ai toutes mes chances. Bon je n’y vais pas pour ça (NBA), mais je compte bien me prendre un jour pour le chercher. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Je pensais bien que c’était le basket qui t’appelait… ca serait bête de ne pas tenter le harfang pour autant, si l’occasion se présente. Bonne chance 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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