Bird Cliffs of Ekkerøy

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwakes in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 220 mm, f/6.3, 1/1000 sec, ISO 800, hand-held

Fruda, the owner of our hotel in Vadsø, was a wealth of information about the Varanger Peninsula and various birding sites. He told us about a small town 15 kilometers east of Vadsø called Ekkerøy whose claim to fame is the kittiwake bird cliffs. The town itself is an old fishing village consisting of a few houses on a peninsula and the connecting land. A large hill on the southeastern part of the peninsula gives way to cliffs dropping into the sea. We headed out to visit this area one afternoon and I was shocked by the number of gulls flying about.

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake cliffs in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO 800, hand-held

These types of gulls are the Black-Legged Kittiwakes, a smaller cliff-dwelling gull named after the high-pitched sound it makes.

These birds nest together, often in the thousands, as we saw in Ekkerøy.

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake cliffs in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 200 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO 1600, hand-held

We were able to practice a variety of bird photography skills at these cliffs. For the images below, I was focusing on capturing the nesting behavior of the kittiwakes.

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake nesting on a cliff in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO 1600, hand-held

The nests are on the edges of the rocky cliffs, built up over time by seaweed and other vegetation. In the image below, the green on the kittiwake’s chest is evident of a recent seaweed collection.

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake nesting in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO 1600, hand-held

The nests are often very close to each other but that doesn’t seem to bother the gulls as they rest peacefully. Eggs are laid typically between mid May to June, but we did not see any, possibly because most of the nests were above us and the gulls were sitting on them or they had not yet laid eggs.

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwakes nesting on cliffs in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/5.6, 1/5000 sec, ISO 1600, hand-held

Some mating pairs seemed particularly affectionate at times as they huddled together.

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake pair nesting in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO 800, hand-held

Other pairs were in nest-building mode. One gull sat on the nest while the other flew away to find vegetation and bring it back.

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake bringing back nesting material in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 300 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600 sec, ISO 1250, hand-held

At times, I spotted gulls resting on big boulders jutting up from the sea.  Evidence of years of perching on this boulder gives a nice coloration to the rocks. The rest was short-lived though as they soon returned to the task of collecting sticks, twigs, seaweed or other vegetation for their mate.

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Image: Black-Legged Kittiwake bringing back nesting material in Ekkerøy, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm at 500 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600 sec, ISO 1600, hand-held

Coming up in a future post will be some images of these birds in flight, definitely a hard skill that requires some practice.

 

Author: Dr. Amy Novotny

Dr. Amy Novotny founded the PABR® Institute with the mission to provide pain, stress and anxiety relief to those who seek a naturalistic form of treatment when other treatment methods have fallen short. Her unique approach comes from her experience treating in a variety of settings and with a wide range of patient populations over the past 12 years. Her background in orthopedics, sports, geriatrics, balance disorders, nerve injuries, and most recently, chronic pain; and influences from coursework at the Postural Restoration Institute gave her the foundation to develop this treatment method to address a wide variety of painful and restrictive conditions. Her methods have helped countless people reduce and eliminate pain, stress, anxiety, orthopedic surgeries, sleep issues and the need for medications. She co-authored two Amazon #1 Best-Selling books Don’t Quit: Stories of Persistence, Courage and Faith and Success Habits of Super Achievers, which share her journey on how and why she developed the PABR® Method. Her ability to speak French and Spanish has allowed her to communicate with and help various clients from all around the world, including France, Mexico, Central America and South America. She has a variety of interests including running 40+ marathons, running 10 ultra marathons (including two 100 milers), completing an Ironman triathlon, photographing wildlife and landscapes all over the world that has led to several of her images being chosen as Photos of the Day, most notably National Geographic Your Shot World Top Photo of the Day. Visit her photography portfolio here!

8 thoughts on “Bird Cliffs of Ekkerøy”

  1. Love the nesting on the cliff and the one bringing g supplies for the nest…lots of birds for sure…hope you have been wearing a hat with all the white bird droppings 😳…great photos 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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