GullFest 2012 – and you’re invited!


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.



Click the poster for a larger version!


Did you like this? Share it:

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. Jochen says:

    What an amazing event. I’ve been to the Varanger peninsular a few times (this may sound like I am a lucky chap, but the last time, sadly, was 20 years ago), once at the end of May, and have two things to say about this April trip:

    2. I MEAN IT !!


  2. Steve says:

    Tristan, I suspect that many people of Turkey would welcome the economic ability to fly to a foreign country for a short period to pursue their interests etc. Hence their development. And I understand that you appreciate this, I’m not criticising you, it’s a seemingly intractable problem with the only solutions involving an immense upheaval of the way we live and our economic systems – the benefits of which we seem to enjoy too much to want to do anything about the bigger issues. However, given the dangers of climate change, isn’t it about time birders put some thought into what they are doing themselves and took some small steps? Maybe a bit less jetting off for a few days? A bit less driving over the country. I don’t mind if people wish to do that, but I would like them to at least acknowledge the effects.

  3. Tristan Reid says:

    Thanks Jochen; I think that is good advice ;-)

  4. Tristan Reid says:

    Steve, I am sure there is a proportion of people in Turkey that would welcome the ability to travel. I assume your comment was placed on this post rather than my recent post about Turkey for a very obvious reason. Whilst I am not going to begin to justify my reasons for travelling abroad I think it is safe to say that the threats to Turkeys globally significant biodiversity and culture is not going to be safe guarded by individuals abstaining from trips abroad. It is also worth noting that as I understand it the predominating beneficiaries from the carnage currently being carried out on Turkey’s wild areas are companies outside of Turkey.
    I agree that we do need to take responsibility for our actions and acknowledge the collective damage that our actions do to the planet. However this does not mean we should ignore what else of detriment is occurring. I do not live my life without hypocrisy (for example I am vegetarian, when I know I should really be vegan); but this does not mean I am not worthy enough to make a stand against large scale destruction of the planets dwindling biodiversity.
    If I had not travelled as much as I have I may not have the passion and enthusiasm that I possess for global conservation (this is not an excuse, merely an observation).

Comments are now closed for this article.


Unless otherwise specified all text and images copyright Talking Naturally