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24 July 2008

An Interesting Encounter

While taking photos of the fishing boats I noticed some oystercatchers on the shore and thought it would be good to get a photo of them. As I approached they flew off, naturally, making quite a fuss but never went far.
The fuss the birds were kicking up and the way they were acting could only mean one thing. They were nesting. Not that they build a nest. They lay straight onto the shingle. I had no idea if I would be looking for eggs or chicks but what I did know was that they are extremely well camouflaged either way. I studied the ground carefully before every step.
As I slowly made my way across the shingle,carefully checking every step incase I trod on the very thing I was looking for, my progress was being further hampered by a common gull who had apparently decided to join forces with the oyster-catchers and was dive bombing me.
Eventually I found what I had been looking for. One of the rocks looked odd and I soon realised I was looking at a chick. It sat there totally motionless. Not only could I not discern any breathing but it didn’t even move its eyes to look at me as I carefully edged around it to get a photo. I knew there wouldn’t be just one so I searched further and sure enough there was a second, hiding with its head stuffed in some drying kelp only a couple of feet away. The temptation to pick them up was immense but that would have been wrong so having taken a few shots I carefully moved away to leave them and their parents in peace. I felt totally elated as I had never come across them before. this was turning out to be a very good day.

18 July 2008

Catch of the day

Dried cod is one of the main sources of income for the people of Finnmark. We passed loads of fishing huts with racks of fish drying in the air like this. It's hardly any wonder that cod stocks are so depleted in the North Sea. Who knows how the local economy will fair when the cod stocks are exhausted.
Below is a photo of some cod fishing boats, you can see more racks of fish drying behind them.

17 July 2008

Day 4 - A trip around the coast.

The next day we hired a car so we could drive around the coast of the fiord. We had a 200km limit on our car hire for the day so we drove 50km along the coast to the west of Alta first and then planned to go 50km to the NE of Alta in the afternoon. There were no other roads so a round trip was out of the question. 50km west took us to a little peninsula with a few houses called Isnestoften. It was, like all the settlements along the coast, a fishing community. We stopped and sat by the water for a while. This was the most peaceful place I have ever been. the only sounds were natural and mainly just wading birds and gentle lapping of the water. Very gentle lapping actually as there was barely a ripple to be seen. We could have been the only humans on the planet.
On the way here we were surprised by a handful of reindeer who had decided the grass was greener on the other side of the road and just ran out in front of us. I just had to stop and get a photo although I half expected them to disappear into the vegetation at the sight of me getting out of the car. I noticed that down a bank on the other side of the road there was a heard of 20 or so but they were too difficult to get to. This guy was clearly not impressed by me as I was blocking his route that would allow him to rejoin the rest of the herd. He showed his displeasure by stamping his feet. I was amazed at just how close I could get to them. In the UK you only ever get this close to deer if they are tame as in the wild they are extremely shy creatures.
This one was the biggest of the group. I'm sure once those antlers finish growing he will be a very impressive animal.

15 July 2008


When we arrived at Alta it was a big anti climax. The town was totally lacking in character or anything of interest. It location on the wrong side of a small hill meant you couldn't even get to see the midnight sun properly, as we were later to discover, without a long walk. Luckily we didn't have to travel far to find something that more than made up for this. A short taxi ride out of town took us to the Alta Open Air Museum. It was late in the day but with 24 hours of sunlight most businesses try and make the most of the summer with long opening hours. It also meant that all the coach parties that would normally be filling the place during the day had left and the place was almost empty. The museum was set up around an extremely extensive series of prehistoric rock carvings that had been dated as being created between 4,500BC and 500BC. These rock carvings had been chipped out of the flat stones that littered the place after the ice retreated during the end of the last ice age. They show every day life, herding reindeer and elk, fishing and hunting bears.
The location of the museum itself was also as interesting as the artefacts. It was at the edge of the fiord and had spectacular views in all directions. As we walked around we are serenaded by the sounds of wading birds calling and everywhere we looked there were beautiful wild flowers of a sort I had never seen before. The place was totally idyllic.

12 July 2008


The flight from Trondheim to Alta took about 4 hours. there was little to see for the first 1 1/2 hours as we were in cloud but when we broke free the views were spectacular. We flew over glaciers and snowfields, mountains and lakes, for mile after mile. Having never seen a glacier in real life before I was thrilled to get this view (above). The fissures in the ice showed up turquoise and the whole thing looked like a pale blue tongue. The image below is the same view but zoomed out a bit.

Below are some more shots I took on the flight.

10 July 2008

Day 2 - Trondheim to Alta

The flight from Trondheim to Alta was spectacular. The first part was in cloud but after flying for about an hour we broke free of it and the scenery had totally changed from lush green to white. We are flying at 10,000'and some of the peaks on route were about 8,500'.

09 July 2008

Day 1 - Bergen

As mentioned, we spent the first night in Bergen, SW Norway. This was a charming town with a harbour. These houses were opposite the quay and were probably fishermen's buildings of some sort. Wood was and still is the main building material throughout Norway except in towns were concrete has taken over.

08 July 2008

Just Back from Scandinavia

We have just got back from a 10 day flying tour of Scandinavia. I took over 800 photos in all which will take me ages to sort out. Loads of deleting to be done I'm sure :-)
There were 12 people on the trip in 6 aircraft. This photo is our arrival at Bergen, Norway where we all met up and spent the first night. Didn't see much on the flight as we were in cloud for most of it but once we broke out of the clouds the scenery was wonderful. From Bergen we went up to Trondheim and then up into the Arctic circle at a place called Alta right at the top of Norway and land of the midnight sun (home of the insomniacs). After that we flew down to Helsinki in Finland where we returned to having a couple of hours of darkness each night...bliss. Our last planned stop was Stockholm but as the weather turned bad on us we had to break our return flight at Gronegen in the Netherlands for an extra night.
Apart from some nasty flying weather on some of the legs the trip was excellent. I'll tell you more about it over the next few days.