What really struck me about Vardø was the number of buildings covered in graffiti, which i have not noticed in other small towns in Norway (not that i have seen many so far). So unfortunately for the bird fanatics, i did not get many bird photos, if any... Instead i will give a brief overview of some of the graffiti that adorns the buildings in this old town (Vardø is the oldest town in Norway, and also the most eastern in the country). I spent four days in town (two were rained out), so when not birding i cycled the streets trying to get photos of the local art work.
Back to the graffiti, i am sure the artist of this one had a whale of a time working on it...
|Whale art in Vardø|
Some of the graffiti in town was quite complex to interpret, while others were straight forward. Compare the two examples below...
|Complex graffiti in Vardø|
|Straight forward, easily understood!|
So who are the real birders in Vardø?
Before i get too caught up in the graffiti, let me at least mention some of the birds seen. The harbour was teeming with Herring, Common and Great Black-backed Gulls, as well as Kittiwakes which actually nest on some of the older buildings at the water's edge. Cormorants and Shags were continually passing by the ends of the island between their foraging, breeding and roosting grounds.
From the eastern-most look-out spot one can see numerous cliff nesting birds moving between the entrance of the harbour and the breeding cliff on the island Hornøya (just a kilometer east of the island on which Vardø is established). These included Brünnich's and Common Guillemot, Puffin, Razorbill and Black Guillemot; all a bit too far to photograph. However, it was good to see these species for my Norwegian mainland species list.
|Part of Vardø town with Hornøya island in the back, on the right.|
|Closer view of Hornøya island with light-house, and facing breeding cliff.|
Two species i was hoping to see at Vardø were Glaucous Gull and King Eider, which are occasionally seen here in summer. I may still have a chance at some other sites in northern Varanger Peninsula. Another i was after was Yellow-billed Diver, but this one has also eluded me thus far. As mild compensation i got to see Arctic skuas harassing kittiwakes to get them to regurgitate the food intended for their young. Some interesting acrobatic movements involved with this kind of behaviour.
One of the specials for the area i did get to see was Arctic Redpoll. Though sometimes similar looking to the Redpoll, the Arctic Redpoll differs in having only a red forehead, only fine or no streaking on the flanks and a pure white rump (the size of a lump of sugar). The bird was together with some Redpolls and Greenfinches. Red-throated Pipits were common.
|Arctic Redpoll, with only faint streaking on flanks and pure white rump.|
And finally, my office chair...the best yet!
And my campsite of course...!