Day 5 – Reindeer, White-billed Divers and ten tonnes of Steller’s


After the usual early morning explore around Vardø and another very substantial breakfast our group made our way to the loaned vehicles and under the tunnel to the mainland. Our first stop off was the airport in the hope of tracking down some Willow Grouse. It was a bleak and exposed area and we could not locate our hoped for species. There were of course numbers of the ubiquitous Snow Bunting present to keep us entertained!

Arctic Birding


Next we visited the harbour we had visited the previous day. There were plenty of birds to keep us entertained here, including Steller’s Eiders, Common Eiders, Long-tailed Ducks, Purple Sandpipers, Glaucous Gulls, Scandinavian Herring Gulls and of course Snow Buntings! The views of Steller’s Eiders were really good, allowing us to attempt to age them! Further along the Fjord we enjoyed views of  a pair of White-tailed Eagles behind us and two White-billed Divers in front of us in the bay! Groups of Reindeer were scattered along the route we drove, some coming reasonably close.




Every bay seemed to hold either Steller’s Eider or King Eider (or both) and there were the odd single or pair of White-tailed Eagles scattered along the route. Brief views of a Red Fox was an added bonus!

White-tailed Eagles

We stopped for our lunch in Vadsø before following the coast road back to Vardø exploring bays and suitable habitat along the way.


Our day total was an amazing 1000 Steller’s Eider, c300 King Eiders, 3 White-billed Divers and 8 White-tailed Eagles. It was soon time for us to return to the hotel at Vardø for our evening meal. Both Tormod and Martin gave a fantastic set of talks filling our minds with inspiration and anticipation!


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About the author

I'm a birder and twitcher with a general interest in natural history (dragonflies, butterflies and orchids in particular) but most of all I am a passionate conservationist with a particular affiliation to Turkey. Having worked as a Ranger/Naturalist at a range of nature reserves throught the UK I now work as a freelance ecologist and writer.


  1. Ian Smith says:

    Fantastic, and I am so so envious! will this be a yearly event? I ask because the Stellars Eider is sitting at the top of my ‘Lifer’ bird list, and 1000? I think id faint with happiness!

    Glad I found your blog – the photography is excellent. Thanks for sharing

  2. Tristan Reid says:

    Thanks Ian; very glad you’ve enjoyed my posts. Steller’s Eider were certainly one of my many highlights from the trip! It is going to be an annual event. I will post further details about next years festival on Talking Naturally when I have them. You can also keep updated via

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