Having just participated on several of Martin Garner’s Birding Frontiers Gull Masterclass Days I am very excited to tell you about the first Arctic GullFest. The Arctic Gullfest will be taking place from 13 – 17th of April 2012. The great news is that you are invited to join Martin and Tormod Amundsen for this very exciting birding event! This will be five days of great birding experiences, inspiring and educational talks and slide shows. The event will take place at Vardø, one of the most avian rich places in the famous birding destination of Varanger Fjord which lies along the northern coast of Norway.
From the base camp gulls will be enticed in every day, thanks to the good help of the fishermen of Vardø. With gull enthusiast and BirdLife consultant Frode Falkenberg there will be opportunity to participate in a color ringing scheme. This will give us the possibility of close studies of the Arctic gulls (possibly also gps-tagging of gulls, with 1:1 streaming on a digital public map). Expect thousands of gulls at close range.
Every evening there will be inspiring talks with Martin Garner of Birding Frontiers on the following subjects:
1) The New Approach to identifying gulls
2) Age it before you identify it (key aspects of ageing large gulls)
3) Stop Reading Books and start watching birds! (Get a different perspective and you will find more birds)
4) What are we missing? The rare gulls still waiting to be found.
There will also be talks and slide shows by Tormod Amundsen, Frode Falkenberg, and others (programme still being finalised). I will also be giving some talks; subject will be announced in due course.
As I will be present during the whole event Talking Naturally will give regular updates on the event, aiming to highlight the pioneering birding available and the conservation issues relating to arctic Norway.
Every day there will be trips to the spectacular bird cliff Hornøya: (just 10 min. by boat from Vardø harbour). Here more then 100 000 seabirds will give excellent photo opportunities. Brünnich’s Guillemot, Guillemot (incl. ssp. hyperborea), Razorbill, Puffin, Black Guillemot, Kittiwake, Glaucous Gull (our record count from last spring was 3300+ birds on one day!), Iceland Gull, Herring Gull and more. There will be ample opportunity to photograph these birds as they show very close!
King Eider and Arctic seaduck photosafari by boat: In winter and early spring rafts of 4-5000 thousand King Eiders gather around Vardø. There will be trips by boat for exellent photo opportunities of these magnificent high arctic seaducks. The last day there time will be spent in Vadsø (inner Varanger Fjord) where there will be great opportunities for close studies of Stellers Eiders by boat (also great views from land).
´The Fishermans Pelagic´: There will be the possibility of joining a fishing vessel to sea. This must surely be the ultimate Gull pelagic!
The Talks will be held at both the Vardø Hotel (with views of the harbour) and the ´North Pole Pub´ (Nordpol Kro) – This is where the polar explorers Nansen and Amundsen stayed before their arctic expeditions, the last civilised outpost, and a favoured pub by fishermen for 150 years!
Birding is of course the main focus, and the species will include:
Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, Kittiwake, Herring Gull (northern argentatus), Great Black-backed Gull, Common Gull and any other gull species to be found; hopefully of an even more arctic (or eastern!) caliber..
Also there will be a chance to see most if not all of the following: King Eiders, Stellers Eiders – both in thousands, Long-tailed Duck, Scoters, Divers (including White-billed Diver), Hawk Owl, Snowy Owl (never certain, but they had a great 2011 in Northern Norway), Purple Sandpiper, many thousands of alcids (including Brünnichs Guillemot), Arctic Redpoll, Siberian Tit, Siberian Jay, Willow Grouse, Ptarmigan, White-tailed Eagle and more. We will also see several species of mammals: Reindeer, Arctic Hare, Otter, several species of Seal, Orca and more.
Varanger in early spring provides a grandstand view of the Arctic’s wildlife and very rich birdlife – a beatifull spectacle of nature!
You are welcome to be a part of this event : Join Martin Garners group or simply just show up in Vardø on the 13th of April! Contact Martin or Tormod who will be happy to give you advice and contact info for accommodation and flights.