Svalbard black guillemots


Two black guillemots, Svalbard, 7 June 2013

Spitsbergen, 7 July 2013. After the snow buntings, we continued to the west. We reached the mouth of the river of Bjørndalen valley, the Bjørndalselva. There, more than ten black guillemots swimming not far from the coast.

Black guillemot, Svalbard, 7 June 2013

Black guillemots often swim closer to shore than other seabirds.

Black guillemot and wave, Svalbard, 7 June 2013

They are looking for small fish to eat.

Three black guillemots, Svalbard, 7 June 2013

They seem to “surf” on waves like human surfers.

Svalbard snow buntings revisited


This video says about itself:

March 4, 2012

Tracking snow bunting migration in the Canadian Arctic using geolocators, band recoveries and stable isotope analysis.

By Christie Macdonald.

After the little auks of 6 June 2013 on Spitsbergen, we went back to the dog cages west of Longyearbyen village. Maybe, this time we would be lucky, and see an ivory gull?

No, again. We did see eider ducks, crossing the road behind an eider traffic sign warning motorists about the crossing ducks. And a ringed plover.

Later, in the evening, some people of our group did see an ivory gull near the dog cages. They continued into the Adventdalen valley. They saw that the lone pectoral sandpiper was still there; still doing his courtship display flight.

Now, it is 7 June in the morning. A male snow bunting sits down on the roof of a former miners’ barrack. Then, he and his female partner wash their feathers in the little stream.

We go to the center of Longyearbyen. From the church, you can see a ptarmigan flying over a mountain ridge.

We go west from Longyearbyen, the direction of Bjørndalen valley.

Snow bunting male singing, Svalbard, 7 June 2013

A snow bunting sings.

Snow bunting male still singing, Svalbard, 7 June 2013

Then, it sings still a bit louder.

Snowy mountains across Isfjorden, Svalbard, 7 June 2013

We look at the snowy mountains across Isfjorden.

Svalbard little auks, continued


Little auk couple together, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Spitsbergen, 6 June 2013. Still at the little auk colony.

Little auk couple still together, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Little auks flying and Isfjord mountains, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Sometimes, they flew away to the sea; to feed on small fish and small crustaceans.

Little auks still flying and Isfjord mountains, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

The little auk chicks get only crustaceans. However, it was still too early in summer for chicks.

Little auks flying and sitting, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Eventually, the adult little auks come back to their mountain slope colony.

Little auck on rock, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Franz Josef Land little auks photo: here.

Svalbard little auks revisited


This video is called Little auks and arctic foxes, Spitsbergen.

6 June 2013 on Svalbard. After the Arctic skuas and the snow bunting, time for the little auks once again.

The Norwegian name for the little auk is alkekonge; literally: “king of the auks”. A bit ironic, since it is the smallest species of the auk family. This Norwegian name is a bit similar to the name in Dutch “winterkoning”, king of winter, for the wren; one of the smallest bird species (it does not like harsh winters).

Little auks flying, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Little auks often fly in big flocks around their colonies.

Little auks still flying, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Then, they approach their colonies, and you can see the individual birds a bit better.

Little auk, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

You can see the individuals still better after they have landed.

Little auk couple on rock with green lichen, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

It is mating season for the little auk couples. Still just too early for laying eggs.

Svalbard Arctic skuas and snow bunting


Arctic skua, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Spitsbergen, 6 June 2013. Apart from the Arctic terns mentioned in an earlier blog post, there were Arctic skuas west of Longyearbyen town as well.

Arctic skua couple, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

A skua couple sat down among the rocks.

Arctic skua on grass, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Arctic skua on rock, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Arctic skua on driftwood, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

They did not have a real quiet time there, as Arctic terns tried to drive them away.

Arctic skua flying, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Arctic skua near coast, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Sometimes, we looked at the mountains across Isfjorden.

Isfjorden mountains, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Then, we continued, from the coast to the mountain face near Bjørndalen valley.

Snow bunting male, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

A male snow bunting sat there on a lichen-covered rock.

And there were little auks. Many little auks. They have to wait till a later blog post.

Svalbard Arctic terns and gulls


Kittiwake, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

6 June 2013 on Spitsbergen. After the Adventdalen valley and the mountain above it, to the area west of Longyearbyen village, to the direction of Bjørndalen valley. Along the coast, many kittiwakes fly. Some in flocks; some, like the one on this photo, alone.

Glaucous gull, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

There are bigger gulls as well, glaucous gulls. Usually, at least here today, they fly alone.

Many fulmars flying past, from the east to the west, again too.

Arctic tern, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

It seems that more Arctic terns have arrived here from their long journey to the Antarctic and back than last time I was here, two days ago.

Arctic tern, on driftwood, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Arctic tern still on driftwood, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Sometimes, they sit down on driftwood on the stony beach.

Arctic tern, on beach, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Sometimes, they sit down on rocks.

Arctic tern, on rock, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Sometimes, they call (not on the photos).

Arctic tern flying, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Sometimes, they fly.

There are Arctic skuas here as well. They will be in a later blog post.

Svalbard ptarmigan, purple sandpipers, dogs and astronomy


This is a video about reindeer in June 2009 in Adventdalen valley in Spitsbergen, not so far from Longyearbyen village. We saw them on 6 June 2013 as well.

After yesterday, and after the early morning Arctic terns, today is 6 June in Svalbard.

We go again to Adventdalen.

This valley is to the east of Longyearbyen.

Pale-bellied brent geese and barnacle geese nest there.

At the east end of the valley, the main road, a dirt road, rises steeply. It needs hairpin curves to get up the mountain. It reminded me a bit of a particular mountain road in Ireland. Narrow, steep, hairpin turns. On a rock near the scariest hairpin, someone had written in big capital letters: PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD. A sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, with the deathly precipice just next to the road. Fortunately, in Svalbard now there did not seem to be such an ultra-religious person as then in Ireland. There were no letters on the rocks near the hairpins.

Ptarmigan male near coal mine, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

As we came closer to the top, a male ptarmigan, still in winter plumage. Not in as spotless white winter plumage as the male ptarmigan which we had seen before. This bird lives near a coal mine. The only coal mine still working around Longyearbyen. Mine number 7. So, it had black coal smudges on its white feathers; while sitting on a hillock of both snow and coal slack.

Purple sandpipers above coal mine, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

If you pass the mine, still higher up the mountain, then you see purple sandpipers flying around the partly frozen puddles.

Purple sandpiper above coal mine, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

They are near a starting point for husky dog-drawn sled riding.

Trailer with dog cages, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

There were trailers with dog cages.

Husky dog in cage on trailer, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

The law on Svalbard says that huskies, considered an aggressive dog breed, at all times should either be in cages, or on leashes or drawing sleds.

EISCAT radar, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Still a bit higher than the dog sleds is the EISCAT Svalbard radar. Astronomers there study the ionosphere and the magnetosphere.

Adventdalen view, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

We went back down the hairpin road. There were fine views of the Adventdalen valley, all the way to the fjord.

Dead seals, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

About halfway down, there were dog cages. Dead seals hanging out to dry to feed the huskies.

Reindeer, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

And, not far away, reindeer again.

This video is called Arctic Fox, Reindeer, Polar Bears of Svalbard, Norway.

Svalbard Arctic char fish


This video says about itself:

Tough Love, Arctic Char Style

Arctic char spawning in beautiful Savalen, Norway.

Filmed handheld with a Canon 60D on 09.27.2011.

Music: “Ranjit Prasad” (F. Hamrå/H. Stubø).

Performed by Jazz & Fly Fishing.

The book Birds and Mammals of Svalbard, on page 201, writes about one species which is neither a mammal nor a bird, but a fish.

It is the Arctic char, the species occurring furthest to the north of all freshwater fish.

It is the only freshwater fish of Svalbard. Apparently, there are not enough of them for all food needs of fish-eating birds like red-throated divers; as these often fly out to sea to catch marine fish.

Birds and Mammals of Svalbard writes that Arctic char are in over 100 lakes and waterways of the Spitsbergen archipelago. Some of them stay in fresh water all their lives, and are usually comparatively small. Some are anadromous: they migrate from the fresh water to the sea, and then back to spawn. They are usually bigger than the stationary Arctic char.

Svalbard Arctic terns in love


Arctic tern, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

6 June 2013. After yesterday, today just east of Longyearbyen village centre on Spitsbergen. Like yesterday, Arctic terns there at the lagoon.

Longyearbyen, Svalbard, eastern buildings

The buildings of the eastern suburb of Longyearbyen reflect in the lagoon water.

Arctic terns, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

The Arctic terns, recently back from their long journey from the Antarctic, don’t have nests yet.

Arctic tern couple, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

But they already have courtship flights.

Arctic tern couple flying, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

Arctic tern couple still flying, Longyearbyen, Svalbard, 6 June 2013

We continue, to Adventdalen valley in the east. As we pass the eider duck colony, an Arctic skua lands.

Svalbard dunlin mating season


Dunlin couple, Svalbard, 5 June 2013

5 June 2013. Still in the marshy tundra area in Adventdalen valley on Spitsbergen, where we saw dunlins.

Dunlin couple mating, Svalbard, 5 June 2013

It is mating season for the dunlins.

Dunlin couple still mating, Svalbard, 5 June 2013

Dunlin couple, Adventdalen, Svalbard, 5 June 2013

Dunlin couple mating again, Svalbard, 5 June 2013

Dunlin couple flying, Svalbard, 5 June 2013

Dunlin couple mating again yet, Svalbard, 5 June 2013

Dunlin couple mating, Adventdalen, Svalbard, 5 June 2013

As we go back to Longyearbyen, an Arctic skua.