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Arctic Adventure

There’s a saying “There’s no such thing as cold, only bad clothing” I agree to a certain amount but even the best clothes will not keep you warm when standing still for a long time in -30C at night. Waiting for the Northern Light is a static thing and the cold will creep up from your feet. My black parka and camera turned completely white with frost and for a moment I thought I was using a Canon, which scared the daylight out of me for a moment. All jokes aside, the Aurora was a magical experience. 25 seconds exposure worked well and we found a good spot down the road and on the frozen lake below. The sky was crystal clear and I can’t say I’ve ever seen so many stars in Europe before.

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During the day we had a really good time with some of the most beautiful arctic bird species like Pine Grosbeak, Arctic Redpoll, Siberian Jay and Siberian Tit. Finding a nice perch turned out to be quite challenging. The birds were there but I had to find a nice perch to turn a beautiful bird into a beautiful picture of a bird. I ended up using some pine branches and a reindeer’s antler. Although a Siberian Jay was coming to the feeding station, it really proved difficult to get as it was so fast and never really stood still long enough for me to get an image. On the last day, one hour before driving back to the airport, I finally got the shot.

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Our trip also took us to Northern Norway. The arctic conditions made our journey a difficult one. Blizzards and complete white outs complicated our drive up north. But it’s all part of being high up inside the Arctic Circle and it completed our adventure. After a good night sleep we arrived in the harbour at first light to shoot eider ducks from a floating hide. I have been shooting eider ducks in the past but King Eider and Steller’s Eider were on my ‘to do list’ for quite some time. The Steller's Eider is the smallest and fastest flying of the eiders. We came across a small flock in the harbour where they spend the winter. The reflections of the harbour buildings made a perfect backdrop for this lovely duck. Although they kept their distance from the floating hide, I got some really nice stuff.

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The King Eider winters in arctic and subarctic marine areas, most notably in the Bering Sea and migrates to the Arctic tundra to breed in June and July. The male is such a stunning bird and sometimes they came within 10 feet of the hide.

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Also the Long-tailed Duck came very close to the hide at times and my first meeting with this bird became a memorable one. The same goes for their call!

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Another small Harbour in the Barent Sea was great for Kittiwakes, which had returned for the start of the breeding season. They make their nest on the outside of an old wooden building and return to this spot every year.

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Another memorable trip has ended and again my love for the arctic region is stronger than ever. Not long now for my next trip to Iceland and I will report here as soon as I’m back home.

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