Norway Day Five: Reindeer, Puffins Seals And Sea Eagles On A Bird Safari In The Rain

Norway Day Five: Reindeer, Puffins Seals And Sea Eagles On A Bird Safari In The Rain

mother reindeer with new born
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I was  greeted with a heavy rain and some snow on my arrival  in the northern port of  Honningsvag  Monday morning.  It was around 11:30 a.m. and it was windy with  temperatures  in the mid 30’s. I had signed up for an   arctic  bird safari offered by Hurtiguten cruise line . I  made my way  in the heavy rain  to a waiting  bus and joined my fellow tourists. In addition to seeing the midnight sun, I wanted to see reindeer and puffins on this trip. I hoped to see at least one of the three in the North Cape. MS Finnmark arriving in port

I have always been fascinated by the stories of reindeer. Of course we all heard the tales of Santa’s reindeer at the North Pole. But I also remember learning in elementary school about the people leaving in Lappland, and how  their lives were intertwined with the  of reindeer.  And I always wanted to see the birds with  the funny beaks,  the puffins.  Our guide arrived  and we were soon off to the fishing village of Gjesvaer on the other side of Mageroya Island.MS Finnmark docked in Honningsvag

We soon left the small port of Honningvag and were driving through the bleak, treeless tundra landscape that covers the island. isolated tundra landscape

It was still pretty in a primordial way, even in the rain. clouds over tundra landscape

The road climbed upward giving us views of a beautiful fjord as the  guide informed us of the history of the island. clouds over fjord

As we reached higher elevations we  found some of the landscape covered with  areas of  snow from the previous long winter. 

snow covered tundra

As we made our way along the winding roads of the tundra I was delighted to see my first reindeer! The bus from driver pointed it out and we stopped to watch this arctic animal so famous around the world. male reindeer

They really do exist. I soon  learned that  Santa’s reindeer and Rudolph are all females. The males do not have antlers.  Only the female reindeer do and they lose them shortly after giving birth. We also  saw a female and a newly born calf. One of my goals was accomplished. reindeer and calve

We neared  Gjesvaer, a small  fishing  village on the Barent Sea. The locals still preserve some of the fish they  catch in the traditional way, drying them. Once dried they are called stock fish and quite tasty. I had a fine meal of dried cod in Tromso. fish drying in village

We soon  made our way to the headquarters of the famous bird safari which operates tours of the Gjesværstappan islands. These isolated islands are  home to thousands of  arctic birds.  The islands are  a protected nature preserve. . Here is a link to some more photographs from my drive to Gjesvaer. Norway Day Five. Norway Day Five: Bird safari bus ride. June 4 2018bird safari headquarters.

It was still raining and very windy as we boarded our  boat.bird safari boat

It didn’t stop any of the passengers, some very elderly, from standing on the deck in the rain and rough waters as we made our way to the Gjsaerstappan Islands. 

As we neared some very small  islands, more like large rocks than islands, I saw my first razorbills.razorbills on rocky island

They were perched on the cliffs of the islands and soon scattered as we approached. Here is a link to some  more photographs of the razorbills. Norway Day Five: Bird safari razorbills. June 4 2018.

As we watched  the razorbills scatter and fly to the open ocean we encountered huge flocks of razorbills and puffins.  Goal number two accomplished, I saw my first puffin. puffin in water

I could watch these  unusual birds all day. The paddled and dived in the icy waters looking for a fishy meal.  It was a delightful experience even in the cold rain and wind.  Here is a link to some more photographs of the puffins. Norway Day Five:  Bird safari  puffins. June 4 2018. puffin in water

We approached the larger islands and next saw cormorants and shanks  perched on the rocky cliffs. shanks and cormorants on rocky island

Again some flew off as we disturbed their solitude. cormorant in flight

Finally we came to the massive cliffs of the Gjesvaerstappan Islands.  As we approached the sheer cliffs and steep hillsides the rains stopped. rocky island

And we were rewarded for our adventure into this cold northern sea with our first sighting of sea eagles. sea eagle in flight

We watched a couple dozen of these magnificent birds soar through the air, or perched on cliffs as we cruised around the islands. Here is a link to some more photographs of the sea eagles. Norway Day Five: Bird Safari sea eagles. June 5 2018. sea eagle in flight

Even though the rain had stopped it was still cold and windy. But no one seemed to mind the weather. rocky cliffs on islandIt was absolutely an amazing experience seeing all of the many species of birds that live in this  remote part of our planet. clouds over island

We  continued our exploration of the islands and also saw colonies of sea gullsseagull nests

and gannets perched on the steep cliffs. It was amazing. Here is a link to some more of the birds we saw on the bird safari. Norway Day Five: Bird safari. birds June 4 2018. bird colony

As we returned to the fishing village we were also  encountered another wonderful sight, a pod of seals lounging on a rocky island in the cold arctic weather. A great way to end great trip. Here is a link to some more photographs of the seals. Norway Day Five: Bird safari seals. June 4 2018. sea on rocky island

Our boat dropped us off at the bird safari house as the sun was trying to make an appearance. It didn’t last long. Showers soon returned. We had a few minutes to explore it’s exhibits and gift shop.

ship in harbor It was a good start to my visit to the North Cape. Here is a link to some more photographs from my tour on the bird safari. Norway Day Five Bird safari June 4 2018exhibits at bird safari

We now began our journey back Honningsvag once again enjoying the arctic tundra scenery in the rain. traditional sami house

And we were delighted to encounter a group of reindeer as they crossed the road in search of food, including a female and her newly born calf. reindeer and calf

We learned they are brown for only a day after birth so this one was newly arrived to this cold and remote part of our planet. nother riendeer and new born calf

It was another truly amazing experience, one of so many I would have on this adventure. Here is a link to some more photographs of the reindeer. Norway Day Five bird safari reindeer. June 4 2018.mother reindeer and calf

We were dropped off in Honningsvåg near the information center and it’s giant troll.  I soon retrieved my luggage from the ship and was walking through the rain with my looking for my hotel. I crossed off two of the three reasons for my excursion to the  Norwegian arctic, the reindeer and puffins. Now all I needed to do was see the midnight sun. Will I? We shall see.giant troll

The most important thing for people to know about the governance of the Arctic is that we have a chance now to act to maintain the integrity of the system or to lose it. To lose it means that we will dismember the vital systems that make the Arctic work. It’s not just a cost to the people who live there. It’s a cost to all people everywhere. Sylvia Earle


  1. Jonathan DeBalko on June 25, 2018 at 9:36 am

    European Shag and Great Cormorants on the rock, White-tailed Eagle, the cliff nesting gulls are Black-legged Kittiwakes

    • on June 25, 2018 at 7:37 pm

      Thanks Jonathon. I appreciate the help. I was going to post a birds of Norway gallery and try to identify them myself. I probably would have never finished it. I hope to work on it soon.