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FIGHTING RUFFS

PHOTOGRAPHING THE FIGHTS OF THE RUFFS IN THE WILD TUNDRA

A unique spring experience in search of migratory birds and Arctic wildlife.

A journey for wildlife photographers and birdwatchers.

 

DURATION: 7 days
MAXIMUM NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS: 6 PAX
DATES:18-24 / 25-31 may
ACCOMMODATION: Hotel – Guesthouse
TRANSPORTATION: SKUA Nature van – Boat
MEALS: Restaurants – Packed lunch
DIFFICULTY: Easy, support from guides expert about the area
PRICE: 2 460 €
INFORMATION: SKUA headquarters – info@skuanature.com – +39 0141 918349

 

FOR INFO AND BOOKING info@skuanature.com

The migration of birds is a natural wonder. With the onset of spring the tundra vegetation returns and various species such as the European Golden Plover, the Eurasian Dotterel and the Long-tailed Skua come to this unique habitat to spend the summer and raise the next generation. Ruffs set up their leks and are the stars of the season with their nuptial plumage, while reindeer and moose roam freely on the plateaus of the Varanger Peninsula.

The Finnish forest comes to life, amidst the eternal green vegetation, with the bright colors of the Siberian Jay and Pine Grosbeak. Hornøya Island, the jewel of the Barents Sea, is home to thousands of seabirds such as Puffins, European Shags, Common Murres and Razorbills, which you can photograph up close.

The midnight sun shines above the Arctic Circle, and the sky is filled with Arctic Terns flying and the calls of loons. During the endless 24 hours of daylight, we set out at night in search of Short-eared Owls, Northern Hawk Owls and White-tailed Eagles, taking advantage of the glorious light of dawn and dusk that lasts for 5 hours. We are always accompanied by our expert guides to discover these and many other species of birds that come to Norway during the breeding season such as the Northern Fulmar, the Eurasian Dotterel, and so on.

More than 100 species like the Northern Gannet and the Red-necked Phalarope are waiting for you. Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity, contact us now!

BASIC FEE: 2 460 €

 

THE PRICE INCLUDES

  • On-site transportation and excursions
  • Driver and expert guide in birdwatching, wildlife, and photography
  • Access to optical equipment (telescope) and field identification guides
  • Accommodation for 7 days
  • Breackfast and other meals.
  • Excursions and activities described in the program

 

THE PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE

  • Round-trip flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips

Itinerary

Ivalo-Kaamanen-Kongsfjord-Batsfjord-Syltefjord-Berlevag-Veines-Nesseby-Vadso-Ekkeroy-Hornoya-Vardo-Kaamanen-Ivalo

Day 1

We will land at Ivalo airport at 1:00 pm. From here – 250 km north of the Arctic Circle – we will drive into the Finnish taiga to reach our destination: the Varanger Peninsula.

We make a first stop in Kaamanen, where the local restaurant has set up some bird feeders frequented by species such as the Siberian Jay, Siberian Tit and Pine Grosbeak. Although we arrive only in the afternoon, thanks to the phenomenon of the midnight sun, we can enjoy spectacular light conditions to photograph these and other passerine birds in a whole new photo hide. After dinner overlooking a large window from which we can continue to admire their tireless activity, we head north again where we can see beautiful herds of reindeer all along the way. Then we look out for Northern Hawk Owls in the trees and camouflaged Rock Ptarmigans making their territorial calls in the tundra.

At midnight we arrive at Kongsfjord Guesthouse, located on a beautiful headland on the fjord of the same name, a strategic point to find wildlife, and which will host us for the next few days.

Day 2

After a rich breakfast buffet at Kongsfjord Guesthouse, we will prepare for an intense day of wildlife photography. We will visit the plateaus around Kongsfjord Guesthouse and try to photograph the beautiful Ruffs. In the tundra at this time of year it is possible to observe the spectacle that these birds put on during their courtship ritual: The males fight for the females in certain areas called “leks”.

After looking for this and other species such as the Red-throated Loon and the Common Goldeneye, we will drive to the municipality of Syltefjord where we will have lunch and gain strength for an approximately 3-hour sea excursion to a spectacular colony of Northern Gannets. As we make our way along the coast of Makkaurhalvøya Nature Reserve, we will see hundreds of Gannets nesting on the cliffs above the Barents Sea, along with Puffins and Thick-billed Murres. On the way out of the fjord to the open sea we will look for Northern Fulmars, but also for cetaceans, because it will not be difficult to spot dolphins and whales coming to the surface to breathe.

Back in Kongsfjord for dinner, we do a second photo session with the Ruffs under the eternal sunshine. In the small tundra lagoons, we continue to look out for Black-throated Loons, Red-throated Loons, and also for European Golden Plovers and Eurasian Dotterels.

Day 3

After breakfast in Veines, we drive to the nearby town of Kongsfjord, where we enjoy a morning photo session of the mixed colony of Arctic and Common Terns nesting on the artificial beach built by Skua Nature. After the session we return to Veines to have lunch and photograph groups of Purple Sandpipers.

After lunch we continue our exploration around Kongsfjord, this time towards Berlevag, where the long panoramic road offers us not only many opportunities for landscape photography, but also the chance to observe species such as the White-tailed Eagle, the Parasitic Jaeger, the Long-tailed Skua, and the Snow Bunting.

When we arrive in Berlevag, we can observe the flight of hundreds of Black-legged Kittiwakes, Great Black-backed Gulls, and European Herring Gulls. On the way back to Kongsfjord we will keep an eye on the coast in case we spot Temminck’s Stints.

In the evening we will have a farewell barbecue right in front of the abandoned dock where Black Guillemots, Common Terns and Eurasian Oystercatchers nest, accustomed to the constant presence of humans. After dinner we will return to the highlands for a final hike to the leks, where we will try to take new photos of the Ruffs under the midnight sun, before resting one last time in the comfortable Kongsfjord Guesthouse.

Day 4

Right after breakfast we say goodbye to Kongsfjord and Veines and head towards Varangerfjord. It will be a long and exciting day, during which we will mainly look for birds of prey that live in these areas. In the morning we will look for the Northern Hawk Owl in the Dwarf Birch forests. On the shores of Varangerfjord we can spot Harbor Seals, White-tailed Eagles, Bar-tailed Godwits and Common Cranes, but especially the meadows along the road are an excellent place to look for the beautiful Short-eared Owl. In the afternoon we will visit an impressive colony of thousands of Black-legged Kittiwakes on the cliffs of Ekkerøy. Here you will have the opportunity to photograph the incredible aerial battles between these birds and the Parasitic Jaegers trying to steal their food. The road itself is also a spectacle of wild landscapes and small, colorful fishing villages.

In the evening we reach Vardø, a small island connected to the mainland by an underwater tunnel, where we will spend the night. After dinner we will visit some points of great ornithological interest, such as the edges of the island, where various birds stop for a rest after their long migration route from the south. Thus, we will spend the last hours of the day looking for species such as the Red-throated Pipit, European Golden Plover, Ruddy Turnstone and Red Knot in the dim light of the midnight sun.

Day 5

After breakfast, we pick up our luggage and head to the island of Hornøya. On the island we witness the incredible spectacle of more than 100,000 seabirds going about their nesting activities. Hornøya is a unique enclave where impressive flocks of Puffins, Razobills, European Shags, and Common and Thick-billed Murres can be spotted. To make the most of our time on the island, we will have a packed lunch and return to Vardø on the last boat.

From here we head to Vadsø in the afternoon, where we will have dinner at our new accommodation after a long day of photography. But the day is not over yet, because after filling our bellies, we set out again to explore the Arctic tundra in search of Ruffs and Short-eared Owls. After taking the photos we want with new settings and subjects, we return to our accommodation to rest, even though the sun is still high in the sky.

Day 6

After breakfast we head south to look for more Short-eared Owls in the morning light. We drive to Varangerbotn, an area with public observation points, from which you can spot Velvet and Common Scoters, but mainly waders like Temminck’s Sandpiper and the Eurasian Oystercatcher, if you are lucky.

After lunch we will return to Finnish territory and reach the famous restaurant in Kaamanen “Tuulen Tupa”. We will have another photo session with forest passerines and then enjoy a well-deserved dinner to end our trip. After dinner we will be able to take pictures of the different bird species in the area at our leisure, as we will be staying in the same building as the restaurant.

Day 7

In the morning we drive to Ivalo and take advantage of the last kilometers to photograph reindeer, and with a little luck, moose, which will bid us farewell. Before noon we will reach the airport, where we will say goodbye until our next adventure together.

Ruff, Rock Ptarmigan, Red-throated Loon, Black-throated Loon, Northern Fulmar, Gyrfalcon, European Golden Plover, Red-necked Phalarope, Arctic Skua, Long-tailed Skua, Arctic Tern, Puffin, Black Guillemot, Thick-billed Murre, Common Murre, Razorbill, Northern Gannet, Northern Hawk Owl, Short-eared Owl, Horned Lark, Red-throated Pipit, Siberian Tit, Siberian Jay, Arctic Redpoll, Pine Grosbeak, Whooper Swan, Common Eider, Velvet Scoter, Common Scoter, Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, Black-legged Kittiwake, White-tailed Eagle, Moose, Reindeer, Arctic Hare.

 

  • Photo lenses: Lenses with a focal length of at least 400mm are recommended for wildlife photography. For landscape photography a wide-angle lens is ideal.
  • Appropriate clothing for outdoor activities. Temperatures remain above 0 °C and can reach between 10 and 15 °C. Choosing clothes that provide comfort and safety is very important.
  • Mosquito repellent, winter barrier cream and/or moisturizer.
  • Travel insurance is required.
  • If you book flights independently, it is advisable to choose tickets that include a refund in case of cancellation or change of itinerary.

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