15 September 2012

Gullfest warm up goes violent - Goshawk vs Gull

What was supposed to be a little Gullfest 2013 warm up event / photo session gave some unexpected results. A Gull feeding session suddenly went violent...


Background:
Vardø towns uniqueness is being situated in a wealth of natural resources: fish and birds are the currency of this arctic town!

The local fishing industry is on a slow rise, after years of decline. Small to medium size boats deliver premium quality fish. Vardøbruket, the local fish recievery is a cornerstone in Vardø, both for local economy and identity. An intact local fishing industry ensures life in the harbour, which is the heart of Vardø. Thanks to the guys at Vardøbruket and the local fishermen this is also the best place in Vardø for birders and nature enthusiasts. Where there are fish, there are birds (and mammals, etc - see previous article on Vardø harbour in winter with scenes from the harbour http://bit.ly/Pl9sIh).

A couple of days ago the manager, Glenn, at Vardøbruket called me and asked if I was interested in a Gullfest warm up - he had approx 800 kg of fish that either had to be trahsed or fed to the local gulls. Of course I jumped to the opportunity for a Gull bonanza, with great photo opportunities and likelyhood of some arctic type gulls coming in to feed. A nice warm up for the Gullfest 2013! 

By the way we will run Gullfest 2013 from 21-26th of March 2013 (core dates). Stay tuned for updates soon. The Arctic Gullfest 2012 was a great event worth repeating - and expanding, with good help from our local fishermen and Vardbruket! An article from the Gullfest2012: Birding to the people 

The Vardø harbour page from our recent production ´Birding Destination Varanger´- a pro nature destiantion development study (p93/137). Vardøbruket is one of the few remaining harbour fascilities with light and life -see top photo of Vardøbruket in the winter / dark season.  

Vardøbruket and a container full of fish - note Galucous Gull. They are starting to arrive from Siberia, in increasing numbers every week.

We unloaded the fish at Hasselnes - last years Gullfest base camp site. Hornøya bird cliff in the background. Approx 600 Herring Gulls, 100 Great Black-backed Gulls, 5 Glaucous Gulls and an Iclenad Gull gathered in the area within minutes.


To our surprise we had just gotten back to the car when a juvenile Northen Goshawk caused a mass panic among the gulls. The camera was out in seconds and the following drama unfolded - Goshawk versus Herring Gull. Not a fair fight... This short series is from when the Goshawk strikes the Gull with impressive pressision, and just a minute or so later it is over. 

Northern Goshawk versus Herring Gull (hønsehauk vs gråmåke)







Seeing birds of prey with their skills and precision is allways fascinating.

Thanks to the guys at Vardøbruket we will most likely do weekly gull feeding sessions in Vardø, at Hasselnes the whole winter. I am sure the Gullfest 2013 will be a great event - and obviously you never know what will happen!

For more bird of prey drama see the Gyrfalcon vs Raven article 

 Stay tuned

Tormod A. / Biotope