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With Brutus in Varanger

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Baatsfjord on the Varanger Peninsula in the North of Norway borders directly to the Barents Sea north of the Arctic Circle. It is guaranteed ice-free all year which is why many seaducks spend their winter here before leaving to breed in Siberia during spring.

After a long journey, I arrived on a late afternoon in March 2014 to enjoy a wonderful photo adventure with the Swedish wildlife photographer Brutus Östling and his group.

In Baatsfjord the Polar night and total darkness last from late November to late January.

However, in the beginning of March the sun rises well before 6 o'clock in the morning and sets just before 5 o'clock in the afternoon, thus allowing a full day of photography.


Baatsfjord Harbour

Each morning we had access to a great floating hide in the harbour for about 4 to 5 hours.

Before 5 o'clock we were sailed to the hide as we had to be ready before the birds arrived by sunrise.



















Here are the photo hides in
Baatsfjord Harbour. The
major one to the right facilitates
up to ten photographers at a time
and was the one we used.





Openings in the hide are right by the water surface and give an excellent opportunity to be on eye level with these beautiful ducks swimming close by. This was a great opportunity to get images of to the spectacular artic seaducks as King and Common Eiders, Long-tailed Ducks and the iconic Steller's Eider.

















It was not very convenient
lying flat on the ground in
awkward positions for so long;
however, the outcome was
very rewarding!



Below is an image of an impressive male Long-tailed Duck rising.

 


The next image show a male Steller's Eider.

 


And this is a male King Eider.

 


You will find a lot more images from the trip to Varanger on the homepage in the Avian section


On the fjord

Following the morning sessions in the photo hide we enjoyed the open sea every afternoon.

Orjan Hansen from Arctic Tourist and his staff took us on a two-hour ride in their high-speed RIBs and knew exactly where to go and look for arctic seaducks.

The sceneries on the fjord were great and we had a lot of opportunities to get exiting images of birds in flight. The weather was fine and the birds were plenty.

 


At first it was not easy to photograph flying birds at sea handholding the camera with a long and heavy lens. However, with some practice you soon became familiar with their flying patterns and suddenly, it all fell into place.

Wish we could have had more time!

 


Above is a beautiful male King Eider taking off in the sun. When the RIB slowly approached the birds you had to be ready to shoot. Good to know that birds are taking off into the wind.

Below is a fine male Long-tailed Duck in flight on the fjord.

 


It was not all about seaducks. This is a Kittiwake captured on the fjord.

 


The three days workshop with Brutus Östling in the North of Norway was awesome and a huge inspiration.

The workshop was well arranged combining the use of a fine photo hide in the harbour with time on the fjord.

It was very rewarding to get the opportunity to take pictures of these beautiful seaducks and a privilege to learn from Brutus. He is very straightforward and eager to share his great knowledge as well as equipment - thanks for letting me use the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens ... ; - )

A warm thanks to Brutus and his fine workshop - hopefully more will follow!