A reasonably early breakfast and we were checking out of the hotel ready to hit the road again. Today we were saying our sad farewells to the town of Vardø as we were heading along the Varanger Fjord to Vadsø. The people of Vardø had really embraced this unique festival and made us all feel very welcome; so huge thanks is due to them all.
Once the vehicles were loaded up we made our way onto the mainland and to our by now second favourite harbour. Tormod had saved some fish over from the chumming, so this was laid down on the beach to see what we could attract in! Whilst the gulls were building up, I took a walk to the end of the quay where the Steller’s Eider frequently flew past. I attempted some flight photography!
Good numbers of gulls were attracted in by the fish; predominantly Scandinavian Herring Gulls but with a handful of Glaucous Gulls and Greater Black-backed Gulls. Interestingly there was a a few Scandinavian Herring Gulls with yellow legs. Two White-tailed Eagles flew overhead!
It was soon time to move further along the fjord. We stopped overlooking a small bay where we saw two Otters interacting, a glance behind us rewarded us with views of another pair of White-tailed Eagle….what a place! We slowly continued on to Vadsø checking bays, watching King Eiders, Scoters, White-tailed Eagles, Steller’s Eiders, Reindeer etc as we found them. We then met up at Arntzen Arctic Adventures and took a Snowmobile ride into the Taiga forest. We stopped at some cabins where there was a fire already hot enough to cook our lunch on. Arctic Redpolls and Siberian Tits were very much in evidence; we could also hear a Hawk Owl from time to time. After lunch we went further into the Taiga via snowmobile. The sharp eyes of Seamus soon picked out a very distant Hawk Owl! As we got closer to the base camp we were treated to nice views of a Hawk Owl that was nesting nearby.
On return to the cabin we were treated to nice views again of Siberian Tit and Arctic Redpoll at point blank range!
Could this day get any better? Well yes it could; there was a slim chance of Tengmalm’s Owl! The slim chance turned into a big chance when we managed great views of this fantastic species. A new bird for most of us! What a great way to finish off Gullfest!
Sadly it was soon time to head to our Cabins in Vadsø and say goodbye to Tormod, Anders and the rest of the team; these guys were real gents every one of them.
However, this was not quite the end of birding for us as the next day was our bonus day…..Gullfest Epilogue…..