Sunday 15 May 2011

Blue Fulmar Pelagic from Batsfjord, Arctic Norway

All of the photos in this post were taken by my colleague Joerg Kretzchmar.  A link to his web site can be found here: OZELLUS

We hired the services of a local fisherman who also specialises in dedicated pelagic trips out of Batsfjord.  The main aim was to see at close quarters the Blue Fulmar, a huge breeding Kittiwake colony and also a small Gannetry.  The boat used was a 12 man rib ! Sea conditions, as one would expect from a trip well into the Barents Sea, were very wet, windy and cold.  The swell was approx ten to fifteen feet.

After a couple hours we found a hauling trawler.  We started chumming and attracted hundreds of Blue Fulmars and smaller numbers of auks.  Exceptionally close views were obtained but given the comparatively small boat and big seas, the skipper was reluctant to stop as the huge swell immediately causes sea sickness... I've experienced the same on Cornish pelagics - the down side is that photography and viewing is more difficult when moving.

We arrived at the huge Kittiwake colony and experienced Sea Eagles at close quarters grabbing Kittiwakes from the nest.  The eagles have developed a local strategy of patrolling the cliff edge extremely closely and suddenly creating a strong wind draft beside a nest with its' vast wings. The sudden wind-force topples the sitting adult off the nest, only to be grabbed by the eagle.  We saw it happen.  Awesome.

Entrance to the huge Syltefjord, approx 60 kms from our staring point at Batsfjord, on the Barents Sea

A very dark morph Blue Fulmar

Variation of colours of Blue Fulmars

Kittiwakes feeding on chum

Many thanks to Joerg for allowing me to show his photos.

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