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Eider ducks, seagulls, geese and snow buntings

Birds on Svalbard

The animals we saw the most of on Svalbard were birds. In particular, we saw… the Arctic tern, the long-tail skua and then common eider ducks, seagulls and buntings.

You can not go very close to these animals. If you want to take a picture of them, you need to be patient and have a good zoom lens. From the boat we could see many birds flying close to the sea, searching for fish.

On shore we saw some common eider ducks, white seagulls, barnacle geese and snow buntings.

The common eider (Somateria mollissima) was often seen at the second base camp. These birds stopped on shore to look for food but it was impossible to get close to them since they immediately flew back into water and ice to escape any danger.

The glaucous gull (Larus hyperboreus) is a beautiful bird. It is all white but for the wings which are light grey. The beak and the legs are orange.

The glaucous gull is more withdrawn than the eider duck and we did not see it a lot. It came a bit closer to us than the eider duck, ready to fly away in case of danger. Sometimes you could see it lying on a floating piece of ice.

In Ny-Alesund we saw a group of about ten to fifteen barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis). You could also see some chicks among them. They left the safe waters and walked on the moss-covered soil, crossing mud and water puddles in search of food.

They noticed our presence from afar and slowly walked away.

The snow bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) is a type of sparrow. It is completely white but for the wings. We saw it at the second base camp. It is a bit rounder than our sparrows.

He fluttered about on the shore and came closer to get the food leftovers before flying away. Taking a picture of it was not easy, since every small movement we made, scared it.

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