BIRDSAFARISWEDEN King Eider
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Aurora borealis
Photo: Pascal Favre

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Steller´s Eider
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Long-tailed Duck, male
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Pine Grosbeak
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Long-tailed Duck
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN King Eider
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Willow Tit
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Siberian Tit
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Pine Grosbeak
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Aurora borealis
Photo: Pascal Favre

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Siberian Jay
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN King Eider
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Reindeer
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Steller´s Eider
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Siberian Tit
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Steller´s Eider, Long-tailed Duck in the background
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN Pine Grosbeak
Photo: Daniel Green



Varanger - Arctic ducks & forest birds



22 - 27 February 2019



The Varanger peninsula on the arctic coast of Norway is probably the best place in the world to get pictures on spectacular arctic ducks like King Eider, Steller´s Eider and Long-tailed Duck. From floating hides in the harbour of Båtsfjord you get as close as you can dream of to these birds. In the forested lowlands in Pasvik valley we focus on the smaller gems of the Taiga; Pine Grosbeak, Siberian Tit and Siberian Jay. They normally come to the same feeding station, a remote place by a forest cabin camp. And we go there…dogsledding!

Varanger have long been a well-known destination to bird watchers, lately it´s has also become a Mekka for bird photographers. Thanks to some creative entrepreneurs and the presence of a number of really attractive winter birds.



Day 1
Morning flight from Oslo to Kirkenes. Transfer from Kirkenes to Båtsfjord. We arrive just after dusk and enjoy some rest and dinner in the Arctic hotel in Båtsfjord. Our host Örjan informs about tomorrow´s activities and try out the overalls so we can keep warm in the hides the coming mornings.


Day 2
Early start to leave by boat for a short transfer out to the floating hides in the harbour, before dawn and bird arrivals. Here in the hide we sit or even lie down to get close to the surface and get a really good perspective on the birds. The birds come very close! Common- & King Eiders, Steller´s Eider and Long-tailed Ducks are attracted by the local ”fish factory” where scraps of fish are released into the water. It´s not the most romantic environment, we are actually still in the industrial harbour, but the birds are brilliant. Steller´s being the least numerous. Around lunchtime or when we feel like changing positions simply, we get picked up by the (Rib)boat to do a drive-about in the fjord. It´s nice to get a different perspective and see the birds out-doors. Here we look for bigger rafts of Eiders and try to manouver the boat so we can get flight shots of the birds as they fly up, preferrably against the wind so we get more time, hence better chances. Distances are usually longer but birds are plenty. After this we return for a hot soup and some rest at the hotel. You get time to work on your pictures before dinner. After dinner we go out to investigate the circumstances for Northern Lights. Be prepared for real cold and take measures regarding camera, batteries and gloves to keep your hands warm as you operate your camera. Bare in mind that there´s no guarantee for Aurora borealis here (or anywhere in the world), it all comes down to weather and solar activity and cannot be predicted more than a few days before. The forecast can be quite accurate though. Luckily we have several nights to spend.
Dinner & night at the Arctic hotel in Båtsfjord.


Day 3
We repeat yesterday´s program and with the experience we will know much better what we want to achieve. There can be totally different weather and light conditions each day. The weather is very dynamic or changeable up here and there can be fog, snowstorm and bright sunlight on the same day. For those interested there will be time to take a walk as we get back ashore to look at the flocks of Gulls that roost in the harbour before dusk. Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull and Kittiwakes are usually present among more plentiful Herring Gulls and a few Greater Black-backs. After dinner we investigate the chances for Aurora again. Tour-leader Simon Green is an experienced Aurora photographer and will hold a work-shop, so bring a tripod and a short lense.
Dinner & night at the Arctic hotel in Båtsfjord.


Day 4
For those who like you can add a shorter, third session in the floating hides (there are two to choose from). By one of them there are often more gulls present, but ducks can be good at any of them. The difference is that today is a labour day in the harbour. That means more boats and activity but it can also mean more birds present in fact(!) If you are happy with your photo material you enjoy a relaxed morning with breakfast in decent time.
After breakfast and packing we depart to get a land view over the harbour, it can be quite impressive to see the rafts of Common-, King- and Steller´s Eider as well as gulls from land as well.
The transfer across the Varanger peninsula offers impressive landscapes and we might stop for some landscape photography, some years there are Hawk owls around and especially likely as we come down south of Kirkenes and into the forested Pasvik valley.We should arrive at the lodge Birk Husky before dusk and might see some birds on their local bird feeders before dinner. The river we see from the lodge is actually the border to Russia. After dinner we will explore the chances for Aurora again and listen if some Owls are singing. There´s very little light pollution up here so the night sky can be pretty impressive.
Dinner & night at Birk Husky lodge.


Day 5
After an early breakfast we meet our guides who will teach us the basics on how to do dog-sledding. We get to try out really warm arctic outfits, overalls and reindeer skin boots and gloves. You can still wear some of your regular winter clothes underneath. We will need it because there can often be –20° C. We pair up 2 and 2, one driving standing, one sitting in the sled. Together with our excellent and experienced guides we ride in a caravan – each sled is pulled by 5 huskies – through Norway´s fantastic winter wonderland to the bird feeding station. It takes about 1 hour. The dogs are friendly and eager to run, it´s a challenge but also a great experience. There´s no better way to travel through this nature and landscape in winter. Here we will spend most of the day, trying our best to get pictures of Pine Grosbeak, Siberian Tit and Siberian Jay. Meanwhile our guides light a fire (after having fed the dogs of course) and eventually we can cook some lunch. We can come and sit by the fire as much as we like and have coffee or tea and grill our own hot dogs or fish-cakes (local speciality) for lunch. When sunlight starts to fade we will start our way back over myres and through taiga - hopefully in a beautiful Arctic sunset. After dinner we try for Aurora again.
Dinner & night at Birk Husky lodge.


Day 6
After breakfast we drive (1 hour) back to Kirkenes to get the late morning flight to Oslo and further home.


Optional extraday:
The transfer to the airport in Kirkenes is just one hour. For those who like it´s possible to book an extraday at Birk Husky lodge to get some extra chances on improving the pictures. This day the only option to reach the feeding station is by snowmobile. You can also choose to just potter around and also look for Hawk Owls in the vicinity, some years there are well present in the area.
Price for the extraday including skidoo transfer 3.000 SEK (without skidoo 1.500 SEK)




When: 22 - 27 February 2019

Price: 23.000 SEK per person in doubleroom (flight not included)
Single room supplement: 2.500 SEK
Maximum nr participants: 8

What's included:
Full board accomodation in doubleroom all nights, all transports on Varanger, two sessions in floating hides + two following boatexkursions in Båtsfjord. One session by dogsledding to the forest bird feeding station.

Not included:
Flights (to Oslo and domestic Oslo-Kirkenes (estimated price 2.000 - 2.500 SEK)) We are happy to book your flight tickets since it´s important to arrive at the same time. Snacks/lunch on the transfer day 1, normally we stop at the gas station in Varangerbotn (half way) to buy a hot dog, a toast/baguette or waffles and coffee, it´s usually cheap and good to be ”road-food”.

To bring:
A trapper hat with ear-flaps (your best friend in the arctic winter), head-light, tripod and a short normal (50 mm) or wide-angel lense for Aurora photography.

Tour leader: Simon Green

Other: This is a "mixed group" trip where Swedish- and English-speaking travelers are welcome.

Once you have registered you will receive an invoice of
3,500 SEK. The payment of that bill guarantees you a place on the trip.

See more pictures from the last trip, (link to Pascal Favres photos)




booking form / interest!   

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Varanger
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Long-tailed Duck, male
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Iceland Gull
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Aurora borealis
Photo: Pascal Favre

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Long-tailed Duck
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
King Eider
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Long-tailed Duck, female
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Frosty landscape
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
King Eider
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Siberian Tit
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Snowy landscape
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Pine Grosbeak
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Siberian Tit
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Steller´s Eider
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
King Eider
Photo: Daniel Green

BIRDSAFARISWEDEN
Varanger peninsula
Photo: Daniel Green