lördag 30 juni 2012

Bird Picture of the Week / Ukens Fuglebilde

The Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) is a fairly common wader along the shores of Norway, and a very beautiful one. With its orange legs, black-and-orange beak and a contrasting plumage in brown, black and white, this small wader has a lot of colour and is at the same time well camouflaged.

Ringed Plover / Sandlo / Större strandpipare

måndag 18 juni 2012

Bird Picture of the Week / Ukens Fuglebilde

After having spent most of the last week at sea outside the coast of Nordland county, the bird picture of the week had to be a sea bird, so this week an adult Gannet / Havsule (Morus bassanus) flying low over the water surface is the front figure.

söndag 17 juni 2012

Big sun-spots / Flekker på Solen

With the solar maximum coming up, the Sun has been filled with sunspots lately, and yesterday the huge sunspot 1504, which is facing Earth, had developed a very strong magnetic field.

Even with modest equipment (as here, using a Nikon DSLR with 300mm lens and 2x converter + Baader solar filter) the sun-spots can be seen easily.

As can be seen from the photo, the sunspots has darker inner cores - each dark core about twice the size of the Earth.

The Sun - 17 June 2012 with huge sun-spot AR1504 to the lower right

torsdag 7 juni 2012

Transit of Venus / Venus-passasjen

On June 6, the much anticipated transit of Venus took place. This historical event was witnessed by millions of people all over the world. For me, it was the first time I observed a transit of Venus since I didn`t see the last one in 2004.

With midnight sun here in Northern Norway the transit of Venus was an amazing sight and below are two (of many) pictures taken of the transit.

Transit of Venus as seen from Stø in Vesterålen, Norway.

Close up during ingress, when the disk of Venus enters the sun’s disk

Later in the evening (=early morning), Venus passed by the many sun-spots that were covering the solar disc.

Early morning - Venus has now reached more than half of its path across the Sun`s disc.
The major sun-spots are marked with numbers

tisdag 5 juni 2012

Kittiwake-conflict in Stø / Krykkjekonflikten på Stø

The kittiwake / krykkje / tretåig mås (Rissa tridactyla) is a seabird species breeding on cliffs along the coasts of the north Pacific and north Atlantic. In Norway, the main distribution of kittiwakes is in the northern parts of the country. They are primarily fish feeders, and are much more pelagic than other gulls outside the breeding season and do not scavenge at garbage.

Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla)
The Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, NINA, have monitored the populations of seabirds in Norway for the last 30 years, and their research show a very clear and dramatic decrease in numbers of kittiwakes in Norway. Since the monitoring started, the population of kittiwakes have decreased by 70-85 % and the number of kittiwakes is now only a small fraction of what it used to be.
This dramatic development has accelerated during the last couple of years and in 2010 the status of kittiwakes on the Norwegian Red-List changed from Vulnerable (VU) to Endangered (EN).

Dead kittiwake under the colony

It was, therefore, with a small shock that I noted that the local colony of kittiwakes here in the fishing village of Stø in Vesterålen in Northern Norway was covered with a large net this season. Already last year there were some small remains of an old net in the upper part of the colony where both dead kittiwakes and kittiwakes entangled in the net were found. Needless to say, the number of breeding pairs also in this colony has now decreased.

Net has been put up in the kittiwake colony to prevent the birds from breeding

Gunnartangen argues that the birds can not get entangled in the net !

Who puts up a net in a colony of an endangered species and why? The answer turned out to be the owner of Gunnartangen Rorbuferie, an operator that offers accomodation in Stø with the slogan on their web-page: "Welcome to a vibrant fishing village in Vesterålen, where you can enjoy the nature both on land and by sea - winter and summer"

Gunnartangen Rorbuferie with the kittiwake colony in the background

In an extensive article on NRK (Norwegian News); here it is shown how the owner explains that the kittiwakes are chasing the tourists away, agressively attacking people and that most inhabitants in Stø wants them gone. In addition, he explains that he was there first and that the kittiwakes must leave. He also argues that the net is constructed in a way that the birds can`t get entangeled. The authorities, are, however of another opinion and classifies the net as fauna-criminality.

This is puzzling, because many that offer similar accomodation are happy to have kittiwakes close by and/or on their accomodations, and tourists and guests in the village are delighted to take pictures of the birds and even at a distance of 2m from the birds the kittiwakes hardly even bother to look at you, and they definitely do not attack.

Passing by the kittiwakes is perfectly safe

Dead kittiwake beneath the colony

To point out that the arguments are far from both the truth and the public opinion I have therefore published a short report together with the Norwegian Ornithological Society (NOF) today; NOF-report about the kittiwakes in Stø and I encourage anyone with experience from their stay in Stø to contact Gunnartangen and express their views (good or bad) in order to give the owner a realistic view of what they have experienced. Contact; Gunnartangen Rorbu-Ferie

Like in most fights between endangered species and humans, one side is heavily armed while the
other side doesn`t even know there is a war going on and if there is not room for both people and birds in a fishing village, then something is very wrong indeed...

måndag 4 juni 2012

Transit of Venus / Venus-passasjen

On June 05 and 06, the planet Venus will pass in front of the disc of the Sun - a so-called Transit of Venus - for the last time this century.

The transit of Venus can be seen very well from Norway (early on June 6) and is an historical event that won`t happen again anywhere on Earth in our life-time, so grab the chance to catch this historical event if you are lucky with the weather! In Northern Norway, which now have midnight sun, the entire event is visible.

For detailed information about local times, practical information and how to observe the transit of Venus, I urge all Norwegian readers to have a close look at the following web-site which provides an excellent overview of the event: Venus passasjen 6 juni 2012.

As I wrote in the end of May, a very good and informative overview of the event has also been published by Jan-Erik Ovalsen and can be ordered here: Venuspassasjen 2012 informasjonshefte

For International readers, I recommend  a look at the following web-pages where you will find detailed information about when, how and where to view the event: http://transitofvenus.nl/wp/ or http://old.transitofvenus.org/index.htm

Below is a picture of the Sun with it`s many Sun-spots taken today - 04 June 2012 - with a Nikon DSLR and a home-made Baader solar safety filter.

The Sun, 04 June 2012. Nikon D3, AF-S Nikkor 300 mm with Baader solar filter.
Note the many and large sun-spots that are covering the solar disk.

REMEMBER NEVER EVER too look directly at the Sun as it can cause permanent eye damage. Sun glasses, smoked glass, CD-plates or similar IS NOT ENOUGH. ONLY filters specially designed for the purpose should be used. In Norway, proper glasses for watching the eclipse can be ordered here: http://www.astroevents.no/briller.html

I wish you all clear skies for this rare astronomical phenomenon which will be witnessed by millions of people around the world!

lördag 2 juni 2012

Bird Picture of the Week / Ukens Fuglebilde

The last week has been dominated by strong winds and snowfall here in Northern Norway, and the unusual weather for the season presented me with a candidate for the bird picture of the week.

The Eurasian Dotterel / Boltit / Fjällpipare (Charadrius morinellus) is normally found high up on mountain plateaus during the summer here in the north of Scandinavia. During periods with heavy snowfall late in the summer they are, however, sometimes forced down from the mountains to forage, and yesterday I found a small group of dotterels seeking food on a partly snow-clad lower field.


Eurasian Dotterel

fredag 1 juni 2012

North Norwegian Summer / Snø i Stø

After a week of rain, snow and strong winds many of us in Northern Norway are starting to wonder what happened to the summer.

Below is a photo from the fishing village of Stø in Vesterålen, Norway where I am currently working taken on the 31 May.

North Norwegian Summer - Stø, Vesterålen - 31 May 2012