Birdlife Norway, my employer, is part of a project aiming to boost and enhance the bird tourism in Finnmark county. During a week in late March 2013 I visited some of the people offering products for birders and bird photographers. First up was two days in Vadsø, the coastal end in the south of the Varanger peninsula. See the map on the bottom of the page.
I arrived Vadsø in Finnmark county, northern Norway in the afternoon 21 March to meet up with Øyvind Zahl Arntzen, the manager of Arntzen Arctic Adventures. Øyvind offers several products for the nature enthusiast, and I was about to experience two of them. This afternoon we went out with his unique floating hide, which is a rebuilt boat with cover, suitable for four photographers and the driver. The engine was run by solar power, and completely quiet. We circled around in the harbour for an hour or so, and thanks to Øyvinds knowledge about the birds behaviour we came close to several diving ducks, where the enigmatic Steller's Eider was the target. There were less than a hundred present in the inner harbour this afternoon, and we drove around the small flocks, and drifted alongside them without disturbing.
Other birds present in the harbour area was Common Eiders, Long-tailed Ducks, Red-breasted Mergansers, Mallards, Black Guillemots, Purple Sandpipers, a Black-headed Gull, Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls, and the numerous Black-legged Kittiwake.
Early in the morning the 21st we drove some 20 kilometers west of Vadsø. Øyvind prepared his snow scooter, and I was placed in a sledge behind the vehicle. We drove into the Birch forest, and ended up in Varanger Birdpark. This site has several feeders for passerines, a raptor hide, nesting boxes for owls, redstarts and other passerines, as well as a large well equipped cabin that may be rented.
At the time I was there it was the passerine feeders that gathered birds. Small parties of redpolls (mainly Arctic, but also some Mealy visited the feeders, and gave splendid photo opportunities even without us hiding. A few Great Tits hung around, as well as two Siberian and a Willow Tit. Close to the park a Three-toed Woodpecker entertained us with its drumming all through the stay. Other birds recorded in the park this morning was Raven, Hooded Crow, Greenfinch and Bullfinch.
Last year Øyvind had attractive species like Hawk Owl, Tengmalm's Owl, Common Redstart and Siberian Tit breeding in nest-boxes during the summer. We went on a little snow scooter drive to more elevated areas, to look for owls and whatever, but did only manage to see a couple of Siberian Tits during a sudden snow blizzard that came over us.
November 2018: Fieldwork in three IBA's in Nepal (EN)