Photographing the most colorful ducks of the world in 10-minus-degree temperatures in February at the northern tip of Europe sounds crazy. Well, whether it is crazy or just stupid is a matter of your point-of-view. But all can agree, that it is real Arctic Adventure. The one or the other vagrant Eider might arrive in front of coast of The Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Denmark. But this is a rare event. In contrast these birds are very common in the north of the Western Palearctic. On Varanger/ Norway www.bird-lens.com was able to shot nice pictures of King Eider (Somateria spectabilis), right from a floating hide in the middle of the harbor of Båtsfjord, Varanger. It was the 1st full-year in use and bird-lens.com was able to photograph not King Eiders alone, but also Steller’s Eider (Polysticta stelleri) and Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) and gulls in 5 different species from a brand new photo Hide, which dated back for first use in 2012. From the middle of Båtsfjord port, you had the opportunity to photograph Steller’s Eider, King Eider and Long-tailed Ducks at a level that previously was almost an impossibility. The distance to the birds can be as short as one meter, making even the wide angle lens useful during the photo session. You can shoot in 360 degrees around the shed, giving you the posibility to vary both the direction of light and the backgrounds from the hide. The reflections of the harbour buildings made a perfect backdrop for this lovely duck. And it was true, they almost did not keep any distance from the floating hide. So the photographer got some really nice stuff.
After a good night sleep in a guesthouse “only” 50km away in another fjord, I arrived in the harbour before first light to shoot eider ducks. The owner of the hide(s) met me on his jetty in Båtsfjord. Then he took me out to the hide with a solid rib. Already on the way out to the hide the guide will brought me close to large flocks of Steller’s Eider, King Eider, Common Eider and Long-tailed Ducks – many of them flying by, giving me the chance to do some flight shots. In addition, I made some gull-shots.
You will be equipped with a thermo suit by the owner to keep you warm. There’s a saying “There’s no such thing as cold, only bad clothing” I agree to a certain amount but even the best clothes will not keep you warm when laying still for a long time in -10 – -20C during the day.
The first day – and the following days, too) – I was picked out of the hide at the agreed time after approx. 6-8 hours in the floating hide. Thanks god, there are toilet facilities inside the hide. I was never alone. At least 2 other photographers joined the photo facilities with me. But nobody called the owner to be picked up earlier.
It is the perfect winter shooting destination. Not for King Eiders alone, but also Steller’s Eider (Polysticta stelleri) and Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) and many gulls in 5 different species. A selection of the best shots you see in Arctic Adventure gallery or you can find some shots in the gallery of the Steller´s Eider during the arctic trip!
The King Eider winters in arctic and subarctic marine areas, most notably in the Arctic Sea where the floating hide was, and migrates to the Arctic tundra to breed in June and July. The male is such a stunning bird and sometimes they came within 2 meters of the hide. Also Long-tailed Duck, Common Goldeneyes and Stellers Eiders came very close to the hide at times.
The one week there was really a memorable trip. Again my passion for the arctic is stronger than ever.
In order to meet the growing demand for top images of the rarer species of Palearctic Bird-lens.com has specifically made trips to remote places in Europe but also to other parts of the world. This to do everything to ensure excellent photos of the Birds of the Western Palearctic . The yield of pictures also of rare Western Palearctic birds is very good. The beautiful pictures that you see in the gallery are just first impressions of what you will find behind the tab “Picture- Store” very soon are. Just give a notice if you need a picture of a bird before the new images are online.