06-06 Fugelsongen

a flock of little auks

6th.June: Fugelsongen

Originally our plan for the afternoon was to visit Smeerenburg to see the historic remains of the blubber ovens left on the site by the whaling industry. However, due to there being a large amount of snow covering the remains and the graves of the whalers, Ali instead took us to the island Fuglesongen (meaning birdsong) to visit the little auks that are soon to be nesting there. The weather continued to be beautiful, and we had brilliant views of the little auks flying in big flocks, resting on the rocks, and even mating. These tiny seabirds breed here from June to August and spend the rest of their lives at sea. They certainly charmed us with their distinctive calls and their cute penguin like appearance. We also took a zodiac cruise to see the little auks flying from the water and some boats were lucky enough to see seals and a puffin.

The little auk or dovekie (Alle alle) is the only Atlantic auk of its size, half the size of the Atlantic puffin at 19–21 cm in length, with a 34–38 cm wingspan. The dovekie’s weight ranges from 130 to 200 g. Adult birds are black on the head, neck, back and wings, with white underparts. The bill is very short and stubby. They have a small rounded black tail. The lower face and fore neck become white in winter. The flight is direct, with fast whirring wing beats due to the short wings. These birds forage for food like other auks by swimming underwater. Little auks breed in large colonies on marine cliffsides. They nest in crevices or beneath large rocks, usually laying just a single egg. They move south in winter into northern areas of the north Atlantic. Late autumn storms may carry them south of their normal wintering areas, or into the North Sea.

Ytre Norskøya (151. Norsk-) and Fugelsongen

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