Tag Archives: Eider Duck

Bountiful seas

As we head further North the degrees of latitude steadily increase and the degrees of temperature go sharply the other direction. Previously the steep slopes of the Norwegian fjords plunged to the sea with green foliage born of birches, spruce and pines; now we are seeing barren shores facing the battering of the weather and cold. But this is where things begin to get interesting….

A few days ago in an Arctic fog we were blown towards the shore of the southern-most puffin colony in Norway – the isle of Runde.  At 62°N these islands are at the same latitude of their southern counterparts the South Shetland Islands – adjacent to the Antarctic Peninsula. Here in Runde it is a far cry from the glaciers and extreme conditions of Antarctica but we have still crossed a boundary on the trip North. The south-western coast of Runde in composed of plunging cliffs that hold a startling arrange of nesting sea-bird life. Previously our journey along the Norwegian coast was in the company of gulls, a smattering of terns, the occasional eider duck … suddenly we were surrounded by birds of a dazzling diversity. Gannets, fulmars, kittiwakes, puffins, razorbills, shags and guillemots suddenly soared overhead. Here we climbed to the cliffs and sat and watched the puffins flap furiously through the fog towards their nests amidst the rocks, and craned our necks to see the graceful flight of the Gannets…. But it wasn’t just above that the wildlife had suddenly appeared. As we sailed on (again in mist) occasional schools of fish broke the slick surface, and eventually something bigger emerged from the depths.

With a high pitched squeak long-finned pilot whales where suddenly porpoising all around Widdershins chasing schools of mackerel. A pod of over 20 whales herded fish around us for the better part of an hour, briefly pausing to spy-hop – raising their heads out of the water to peer at these strange intruders to their watery world. Eventually we left them to their feeding, but not before securing some whale left-overs for ourselves…. Mackerel for lunch!

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Widdershins on the water

As I write I’m lying at anchor in Havenholmen – a pleasant little anchorage surrounded by sandy beaches and granite boulders worn smooth from eons of wind. So, after a busy morning with a few hitches we are finally on the water and ready to head north towards Tromsø. Those hitches include frigid weather with windblown sleet, a delayed launch time which didn’t see me hit the water til after lunch, and a belligerent motor complaining after a winter’s neglect. Took a lot of sweat blood and tears to get a spark of life in the old girl but now she’s running like a charm. Today’s short passage took me amidst the skerries and rocky outcrops of Norway’s south coast with eider ducks a constant companion as I peered around the driving station into the sleet. It’s tough at times, but now the sun has peeked out from the clouds and this sheltered and picturesque bay is shielding me from the wind. Life is sweet.


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