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Home → June, 2024

Monthly Archives: June 2024 − News & Stories


An evening in Advent­da­len

An evening in Advent­da­len in June can be a litt­le jour­ney to para­di­se, espe­ci­al­ly for tho­se inte­res­ted in birds. Start at the com­mon eider colo­ny at the dogyard near Lon­gye­ar­by­en (an easy walk in town and loca­ted in the area that is gene­ral­ly con­side­red polar­bear-safe, cer­tain­ly at the time of year when the ducks are bree­ding the­re). Just sit down some­whe­re and spend a litt­le while quiet­ly and you will see what I mean.

The cur­rent impres­si­on on the wide tun­dra are­as near­by and a bit fur­ther into Advent­da­len is a slight­ly dif­fe­rent one. It is just an impres­si­on, total­ly sel­ec­ti­ve in space and time, but the impres­si­on is that the­re are far fewer geese gra­zing now on the tun­dra in lower Advent­da­len than the­re used to be in pre­vious years.

A com­pa­ri­son. The first pic­tu­re is from July 2022 …

Geese in Adventdalen, 2022

Geese in Advent­da­len, 2022.

… and the second pic­tu­re was taken on Mon­day (10 June 2024).

Geese in Adventdalen, 2024

Geese (or not) in Advent­da­len, June 2024.

Was it the bird flu?

The loca­ti­on of both pho­tos is not exact­ly the same (the­re is a few kilo­me­t­res bet­ween them, but both places used to have ple­nty of geese in the past), June is not July and 2024 is obvious­ly not 2022. So, just to make it clear again – it is just an impres­si­on. No data, no sci­ence. But I found the impres­si­on quite strong and it is that the­re are fewer geese around. May­be they alre­a­dy went for other are­as in the spring of 2024? The­re was litt­le snow in May, that might be a dif­fe­rence. Or was it the bird (avi­an) flu? This dise­a­se may have play­ed a role, as it is repor­ted to have kil­led about 1/3 of the Sval­bard popu­la­ti­on of Bar­na­cle geese, amoun­ting to 13,200 birds as Scotland’s Natu­re Agen­cy im wro­te in Okto­ber 2023. A stag­ge­ring num­ber.

Many spe­ci­es of smal­ler birds

But a clo­ser look reve­als a lot of life, espe­ci­al­ly among­st smal­ler birds, as the fol­lo­wing litt­le sel­ec­tion of pho­tos may show.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

First row, left: leu­ci­stic Bar­na­cle geese are regu­lar­ly seen, alt­hough very low in num­bers. Midd­le: dun­lin. Right: Red throa­ted diver
Second row, left to right: Eura­si­an teal, reck-necked phalar­ope, snow bun­ting.

The­re were also some king eiders, but we saw them “only” in flight that time.

Espe­ci­al­ly Eura­si­an teal and reck-necked phalar­ope are among­st spe­ci­es that are not seen every day and ever­y­whe­re in Spits­ber­gen. Lower Advent­da­len has an impres­si­ve ran­ge of spe­ci­es, well worth a visit for bird lovers, and natu­re lovers in gene­ral.

From Eidem­buk­ta to Ymer­buk­ta and Lon­gye­ar­by­en

We star­ted the day in the love­ly bay Eidem­buk­ta on the west coast with its wide tun­dra plains. Suns­hi­ne, blue sky, bree­ding geese (keep your distance), reinde­er (don’t move, they might be curious and come pret­ty clo­se), views on gla­ciers, lagoons and morai­nes. A won­derful part of Spits­ber­gen, very dif­fe­rent from the steep, rocky, hea­vi­ly gla­cia­ted are­as fur­ther north which curr­ent­ly still have much more of a win­ter appearance.

Later we con­tin­ued into Ymer­buk­ta, our final stop in Spitsbergen’s beau­tiful natu­re, still with some­thing near 2 kilo­me­t­res of ice bet­ween the gla­cier and open water.

On the way back to Lon­gye­ar­by­en, we roun­ded things off with a pas­sa­ge near Gru­mant­by­en, and later we went along­side in the har­bour of Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Tho­se who wan­ted to were still ear­ly enough to round the day off in the local bre­wery clo­se the har­bour – the world’s nor­t­hern­most bre­wery.

So a won­derful jour­ney came to its end. The wea­ther had lar­ge­ly been real­ly good, the spi­rits high, the wild­life was the­re … gre­at stuff! Big thanks to all who have con­tri­bu­ted to this, first of cour­se the crew of the good sai­ling ship Anti­gua! And of cour­se ever­y­bo­dy else who was part of this trip and who came with enthu­si­asm and curiou­si­ty and good spi­rits. Save tra­vels back home, and see you again next time! ☺️

Pho­to gal­lery – From Eidem­buk­ta to Ymer­buk­ta and Lon­gye­ar­by­en – 06th June 2024

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

From Ny-Åle­sund to For­lands­und

What a day! Full suns­hi­ne, and sum­mer in the air. The air tem­pe­ra­tu­re was 5 degrees cen­ti­gra­de, but it felt like 20 🙂 the mor­ning in Ny-Åle­sund was pure plea­su­re.

Later we sai­led south into For­lands­und. We still had wal­ru­ses on the wish­list. Well, no pro­blem …

Gal­lery – From Ny-Åle­sund to For­lands­und – 06th June 2024

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

In Kross­fjord

Waking up in Kross­fjord with flat calm water and mir­ror images is a pret­ty good way to start the day 🙂 alt­hough it is pain­ful­ly obvious here how dra­ma­ti­cal­ly the gla­ciers are retrea­ting, both smal­ler ones such as For­bes­breen and the migh­ty Lil­lie­höök­breen. Still, they are huge­ly impres­si­ve. A gre­at place!

Later, we got to see some Brünich’s guil­l­emots and even some puf­fins pret­ty clo­se-up in Fjor­ten­de Juli­buk­ta. Good stuff. Then we finis­hed the day in style in the har­bour of Ny-Åle­sund.

Gal­lery – In Kross­fjord – 05th June 2024

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Nor­thwest Spits­ber­gen

A calm night at anchor is always a good thing, espe­ci­al­ly in beau­tiful Hol­miabuk­ta and accom­pa­nied by the mating call of rin­ged seals, a very spe­cial sound that you can only hear at this time of year when the ship is ancho­red and the engi­ne is off.

Fug­le­son­gen can make get­ting off and on again on the shore a chall­enge, but what you get in return can be stun­ning. You get clo­se to the soul of the Arc­tic – in shape of count­less litt­le auks. The place is so full with life.

Later, the maje­s­tic Fuglefjord pre­sen­ted its­elf in the most beau­tiful suns­hi­ne. What a plea­su­re! A polar bear in Kob­befjord roun­ded the day off.

Gale­rie – Nor­thwest Spits­ber­gen – 04th June 2024

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

In Raud­fjord

The days are full and beau­tiful, and the­re is not much time to wri­te. The wea­ther God is cle­ar­ly on our side. A litt­le bit of fog just added to the atmo­sphe­re, and then the sun came out in full sple­ndor in inner Raud­fjord. The ice was brea­king up in Ayerfjord, some­thing that cle­ar­ly bene­fit­ted bio­lo­gi­cal pro­duc­ti­vi­ty, and the table was laid for huge num­bers of Brünich’s guil­l­emots and seve­ral Min­ke wha­les.

Pho­to gal­lery – In Raud­fjord – 03rd June 2024

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Ice – 02nd June 2024

We had alre­a­dy cover­ed a lot of distance to the north so we were on Spitsbergen’s north coast this mor­ning, rea­dy to sail for the ice. And so we did. We rea­ched the ice edge after a cou­ple of hours at 80°31’N. What a won­derful icy world! That’s were we spent the next cou­ple of hours.

Then we went south again, with a per­fect gent­le sai­ling wind. All sails went up, one by one. Beau­tiful, that’s how we love it!

Gal­lery – Ice – 02nd June 2024

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Lon­gye­ar­by­en to Smee­ren­burg­fjord – 01 June 2024

Here we go, start­ing with SV Anti­gua in Spits­ber­gen!

Loo­king at the wea­ther fore­cast, we deci­ded to get north quick­ly, even though that meant sai­ling the first night inclu­ding some bum­py stret­ches. Next mor­ning, we wan­ted to go for our first landing in Engelskbuk­ta, only to see a polar bear coming out of the water exact­ly whe­re we wan­ted to go – what an ama­zing start to the day and the trip!

Under sails, we con­tin­ued nor­thwards, alt­hough the swell did not exact­ly make this pas­sa­ge the grea­test bit of sai­ling fun ever. So ever­y­bo­dy quite enjoy­ed tou­ch­ing solid ground later that day in Bjørn­ham­na.

Gal­lery – Lon­gye­ar­by­en to Smee­ren­burg­fjord – 31st May / 01st June 2024

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

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