and in August on Autumn migration the last remaining birds gather on the Valdak-marshes. A fantastic marshland / tidal area, in the Porsanger Fjord. On the photo is Birdlife consultant Tomas registering each individual of the Lesser W-f goose (Anser erythropus). Each bird has a unique pattern of dark belly markings.
Varanger is of course the main attraction for visiting birders to ´Arctic Norway´, but with very convenient flights and logistics the Porsanger Fjord is well worth a visit too. Combine that with an arctic seawatch in May at the Slettnes lighthouse (article to come..) an you have a fantastic birding experience. We have of course visited both Slettnes (Nordkyn Peninsula) and Porsanger several times. After moving to Finnmark our first trip outside Varanger was to Porsanger to look for the Lesser W-f geese. The images below was taken in August 2009 (a low year for the L W-fGeese) at the Lakselv river delta, where we had 2 adult and 2 young Lesser W-f geese grazing with approx 40 Greylag geese and 3 Barnacle geese. Distant views, but still a great experience to see these shy miniature geese. Photo below is digiscoped (for the non-birding reader: this is compact camera photography taken through the telescope), with the Lesser W-f geese allmost half the size of the Greylag geese.
The Stabbursnes Wind shelters / bird hides, site plan
In close collaboration with the good people at Stabbursnes Naturhus (nature centre) we are now improving and expanding their nature trail with two bird hides / wind shelters. The shelters will feature informational posters on the local birdlife and of course the unique population of Lesser White-fronted Geese.
We are working on a series of bird hide and wind shelter designs / typologies : the Stabbursnes hide will have qualities similar to the already built Barvika (Varanger) wind shelter (photos below). Birding to the people - and with good info, on site.
Wind shelter is important when birding in the north, whatever time of the year.
For more information on the Lesser White-fronted Goose project have a look at the birdlife.no project site (mostly Norwegian, but with links to english material). They have done, and continue to do, a great job on surveillance, research, satelite tracking and much more. With the Lemming boom of 2011 the Geese had a great year and at least 76 birds where seen in Autumn (mostly 1cy birds). In comparison only 23 birds where seen in autumn 2009 (and only 10 1cy birds). We will be back in 2012, with improved facilities.