In my previous post, W1610 – Tromsø Trek I described my nature walk near Tromsø. After leaving Tromsø we sailed around the Northern Cape to Honningsvåg, where we arrived late morning the following day. Continuing with the nature theme, in this port I had chosen to go on a bird watching safari.
The tour was due to depart after lunch, but an announcement was made that this particular tour would depart two hours later than planned, so I took my walk around the town before the tour rather than afterwards.
I initially walked close to the port itself, and took some photographs of the boats there:
Nearby my eyes were drawn to some very imaginative artwork on the walls of a restaurant, recycling footwear:
Continuing my walk, I cut across the headland to a small beach, then headed inland towards the church which I had visited on my last call and knew to be interesting.
On reaching the church I first entered the graveyard to get a better shot of the church, and noticed a small group of people had gathered around an area of open ground next to the graveyard. Being curious I investigated, and to my delight found four reindeer there, two in their winter white coat and two in their summer brown coat. One of the people there also pointed out more reindeer on the side of a hill overlooking the town, which were nicely silhouetted against the sky:
When the group of four reindeer decided to head off out of town up the road, I returned to my mission to see the church. On opening the door I found that it was in use, so quickly and quietly left. On my way back to the ship I caught this unusual view of it:
These caught my eye inside and outside the souvenirs shop close to where the ship was moored:
Honningsvåg is located on the southeastern side of the large island of Magerøya, at the very top of mainland Norway. Leaving the port by coach, we drove for around 40 minutes to the small fishing community of Gjesvær. On the way our local guide told us all about what we saw on the way, and about life in the area – for example how the reindeer (which are owned and managed by the indigenous Sami people) migrate between summer on the island, and winter on the mainland. While the reindeer swim back to the mainland in autumn, because they are in poor condition after the winter and walking up to the island, the Norwegian army transport them across the water to the island in the spring.
In Gjesvær we transferred to a 20m boat which would take us out to circumnavigate some small islands which make up the Gjesværtappan nature reserve. In the safety of this reserve large numbers of seabirds nest each summer, including puffins, guillemots, cormorants and shags; as well as golden eagles and sea eagles who prey on these smaller birds.
We were so lucky on this tour – the conditions were perfect with warm sunshine and very clear visibility, and a flat calm sea. There were plenty of birds to observe too, often it was a job to know where to look for the best view. We saw numerous eagles which was a real highlight. I was so busy switching between my camera, my binoculars and my mark one eyeballs!
I’ve decided that photographing moving birds from a moving boat is a whole lot more difficult than my usual suspects of flowers, plants and views! Here are some of my better efforts:
We were also delighted to see several seals bobbing around in the sea close to the islands:
All too soon the boat headed back to Gjesvær and our waiting coach. Once again our guide gave us detailed information about the island as we drove back to our ship.
Postscript Around 10pm we set sail for our next port of call in Svalbard, our departure was timed so that we passed by the North Cape at midnight. The crew were handing out mugs of warm soup, and challenging passengers to do midnight sunbathing or going for a midnight swim in the swimming pool – somehow I think there were some mixed messages there! A few brave souls did go for a swim, I contented myself with a mug of soup, and photographing the Cape as we passed. You can see the “horn” – the large outcrop of rock in the midnight sun, and also the crowd of people on the top of the Cape viewing the midnight sun close to the globe marker which is similar to the one marking the Arctic Circle: