Monday, 13 May 2013

LET'S PLAY ON TOP OF THE WORLD....

I look out across and almost empty expanse of inter-tidal mud.

A moulted feather is drifting slowly towards me on an un-spring-like chilly breeze. Off to the north west a dense bank of pewter clouds is about to deliver an unwelcome squally shower.

Until recently these mudflats were teeming with wading birds, alive with their hustle and bustle. They buzzed with the chatter and spatter of calls and feeding.

There is the odd thing wandering around. A Shelduck chuckles way of to the left. There are a few Curlew probing the edges of a turbid channel of water, if I look hard enough amongst their ranks I'm sure I'd find a Whimbrel or two...

But the big flocks have gone. Headed to the arctic, much like the departure of the Blackwits that I documented in my previous post, and I am left wondering what to do with myself....

There is just one thing I can think of....

Follow them.


So I am packed and in the morning I am off. Following the birds North.

North to Varanger in Norway to rendez-vous with some of the Knots that have kept me company on long winter days on the Dee.

The trip is part of the Norwegian Knot Project, a research mission that has been running for several years now. Last year we went to Porsanger and I couldn't resist going agin this year. The Knot are transformed from their grey winter plumage into brick red breeding colours and will feed at your feet.


In the constant daylight they feed like crazy until they are fuelled up for the last leg of their trip to breeding quarters, a flight across open ocean to Greenland and Canada. They are the most amazing eating machines...


and flying machines....


By looking for colour ringed birds and catching and colour ringing some more we can further understand the population dynamics of this species and help with its conservation, but is is also tremendous fun.

On the way home last year I saw a banner in the airport in Alta. It was advertising an arctic football competition, but it seemed to sum up how I felt about the trip....


So tomorrow I join the rest of the expedition team for 10 days in the arctic studying, appreciating and photographing Knots.

Ready to work (and play) on top of the world....

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