Image: Dunlin feeding on an aquatic invertebrate near the Tana River, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm with 1.4x teleconverter at 700mm, f/8, 1/640 sec, ISO 1000, on tripod
In comparison to Hornøya Island and Ekkerøy bird cliffs where we saw thousands of seabirds, the rest of the areas we visited in Norway had less density of bird populations. As I have learned, sometimes finding a species requires gathering knowledge from others in addition to patience and a bit of luck. We used recommendations from locals, a birding guidebook of the Varanger Peninsula and Artie’s bird photographer friend to help us get to the right areas for specific birds. Once close to these locations, we searched for small pools of water or ponds.
Along the Tana River delta, we took a road through vast expanses of land with little vegetation but with small pools of water. At first glance, we didn’t spot any shorebirds, but when we studied the landscape a little longer, we saw small movements and realized that little brown shorebirds were indeed present, such as the Temminck’s Stint.
Image: Temminck’s Stint looking for a mate in a field near the Tana River, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm with 1.4x teleconverter at 700mm, f/8, 1/400 sec, ISO 1600, on tripod
Although many of these birds appear an earthy brown from afar which helps them blend into their environment, up close their feathers have a wide variety of colors and beauty. This bird below, the Little Stint, was one on Artie’s bucket list and was in full breeding plumage. Dunlin
Image: Little Stint looking for food in a small pool of water near the Tana River, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm with 1.4x teleconverter at 700mm, f/8, 1/800 sec, ISO 800, on tripod
In another location near Gednje, we stopped at a small pond for Anita when she spotted one of her bucket list species—a Red-Throated Loon. These birds are very shy and we had trouble getting close to them. We caught the pair nesting but they are very secretive of the location of their nest and it took a couple hours of watching and waiting to find out where they nest.
Image: Red-Throated Loon swimming in a pond near Gednje, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm with 1.4x teleconverter at 650mm, f/8, 1/1000 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held
Finding this one bird at the pond led us to finding more as we walked around the pond and discovered that this barren landscape was full of life. We caught a Eurasian Golden Plover guarding its nesting area. We never found the exact location of the nest because the bird chirped at us and attempted to draw us away–which worked!
Image: Eurasian Golden Plover calling out on the tundra near Gednje, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm with 1.4x teleconverter at 700mm, f/8, 1/320 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held
As we were photographing that bird, I heard some chirping and looked up at some dead-looking shrubs to find a Bluethroat! This little bird might not look special from the back or when flying a first glance, but when I got my lens on it, the vibrant colors of his chest shocked me! We learned that it tended to rest and stay around a certain low shrub along the pond.
Image: Bluethroat singing on some shrubs near Gednje, Norway; Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500 mm with 1.4x teleconverter at 650mm, f/8, 1/500 sec, ISO 1000, hand-held
In all of the above images, I added a teleconverter to my setup because we were not in an area where a specialized habitat was confined to a small area such as the bird cliffs. I needed the extra lens length to capture images of these birds since they could easily fly away as soon as we got close to them. It was a good experience to see this side of bird photography as well. 🙂