Friday, 31 August 2012

Greenland Ice cap- extreme birding!

I had a few spare hours before my flight to Upernavik so went on a tourist trip to walk on the Greenland Ice cap- difficult to find the words to describe such a unique experience except to say it was rather amazing and a very thought-provoking experience- the ice is retreating everywhere! En-route I was lucky to see arctic hare, arctic fox, more musk ox, a white-tailed eagle and two incredible gyr falcons- just stunning raptors. Snow buntings and redpolls were feeding all along the edges of the ice. My last bit of fun before heading for my ship and the treacherous high-latitude waters of Baffin bay. 

Greenland wheatear

arctic fox cub

edge of the ice sheet

on thick ice- for a change!

600 km to the other side!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Musk Ox

Another hours stroll today turned up more redpolls, heaps of lapland and snow buntings and a couple of rutting Musk ox!
Lapland bunting

musk ox

rutting musk ox

heading back to Kangerlussuaq

Friday, 24 August 2012

Arctic circle birding

Arrived in Kangerlussuaq this morning following my flight on Air Greenland from Copenhagen. I have a few days of briefings and meetings before heading NW to join my ship on Monday. A chance to build my Arctic circle birding list- raven, snow bunting, lapland bunting and redpoll sp. all showed up but all remained distant and elusive. No real opportunity to get good shots of anything with the exception of a snow bunting. Nice to see some different scenery however!

typical willow scrub habitat

downtown Kangerlussuaq

snow bunting

view of the local hills

airport hotel with Greenlandic flag- a representation of sunrise over the ice cap.

Hopefully I will get a chance to get some more bird photos before I leave this unique place!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Butt of Lewis-sea watching!

Just back from a great 4 day birding break at the Butt of Lewis- the most northerly point in the outer hebrides and one of the more remote points in NW europe! Although rather early for a sea watching stint I had to visit now as I'm heading back to work next week and so will miss the more traditional sea passage time- in the UK at least!

Since I was a child and saw my first light house at Lands end Cornwall, I have always had a fascination  for the way they dominate land and sea scapes. I always fancied working as a light house keeper in my youth.

looking across the machair at Eorpie towards the butt light house 
looking NNE
Despite being early in the season for sea- watching, there was enough to keep me occupied for four days:- in addition to the usual suspects of fulmar, gannet, kittiwake, puffin, guillemot, razorbill, common, herring, gbb and a few black-headed gulls,  there was a light passage of sooty and manx shearwater and sporadic sightings of great skua, arctic skua, arctic tern and red-throated divers. Around loch Stiapabhat I also recorded hen harrier, peregrine, golden plover and lapwing. On occasion it was great to see whimbrel and redshank coming in off the sea.

Other marine sightings of interest included a basking shark and an ocean sunfish. On the cetacean front I also recorded minke whale, Risso's and bottle-nosed dolphins, harbour porpoise and two orca! Not bad for a shore-based sea watch stint! 

golden plover

distant ocean sunfish (Mola mola)