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Friday, June 06, 2008

Destination: Nordkapp

From the heart of Lapland, I had a single purpose - to make it north to Nordkapp (North Cape). This is the most northerly accessible point on the European mainland.

My quest: starting point at Tampere (the lower arrow in Finland) and the goal at North Cape (top arrow)

The relentless route north, pulling at me towards Nordkapp as if a magnet

The Norwegian coast and the Arctic Ocean in view, my mission seems achievable

Sea, snow and sky combine to generate a thousand tones of grey

Dramatic winter tundra scenery

The desolate winter tundra, my GPS permitted a hike through this hostile and forbidding environment

Tundra forest: yes this is ecologically a birch forest. In the hostile tundra conditions it cannot grow more than a centimetre or two high

Finally, my quest is complete - the monument at North Cape

Nordkapp - from here there is only the icy Arctic Ocean north until the Arctic pack ice is reached. You can make out the monument at the top of the cliff

A moment of respectful silence at the memorial dedicated to those who participated in the infamous Murmansk convoys that rounded the Cape during the Second World War. My father was one of those.

My favourite fishing village, Gjesvær, (Europe's most northerly) where I stayed in an apartment operated by Roald Berg (fishing and birdwatching trips) not far from North Cape. I stayed near the third building from the right, from which I could watch White-tailed Sea Eagles through my window

A gaggle of "common" Eiders, the species from which the "eider- down" is made

A drake Steller's Eider, a rare Arctic sea duck and a "lifer" for me

Fishing trip with Roald, and the professional catches the biggest fish.....

...but Maalie catches some decent cod too

Fishing boats invariably attract a host of a seabirds. The pale gull with its wings open is the rare Arctic Glaucous Gull (you may like to compare it with an Iceland Gull I saw here). Between the wings is a Herring Gull and in the left background, with a dark back, is a Lesser Black-back Gull. In the foreground are three Fulmars of the darker northern race, often called "Blue" Fulmars.

The Fulmar, the Shetland name is Maalie, my bird. The tubular structure on the top of the bill distinguishes it from the gulls. It is an adaptation for excreting salt

Maalie with a maalie. During a feeding frenzy when fish guts were thrown overboard I was able to grab one. I still have the scars to prove it.

The crowing glory of my pre-Litha visit to the Arctic, a glimpse of the midnight sun at Veranger Fjord, near North Cape


Blogger lorenzothellama said...

The photos are soooo beautiful.
Did you eat the cod?
Where did the maalie peck you?

10:10 am  
Blogger simon said...

brilliant brilliant brilliant!!!

Makes me want to buy an airfare and get there 100%!!!!

8:07 am  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

The fishing village looks fabulous. You are always given a warm welcome wherever you go.
I wouldn't fancy all that snow in June, it's lovely to look outside the window and see the greenery, I would miss that.

8:21 am  
Blogger CrazyCath said...

Wonderful shots MAalie. I knew I had heard your name before - now I know. You are a gull! lol

That is a fascinating land - a birch forest (could be) 1cm high? The scenery is magnificent. And of course, I love the last picture. I love sun shots - any time of day. The midnight sun fascinates me.

In answer to your question - yes it is St. Annes near Blackpool. I am not far from St. Annes, Blackpool or Preston. A small village on the Fylde (but not the coast.)

Thanks for your comment at mine (eventually!!!) Glad you're having a good time.

11:37 am  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

Yes, the photos are very lovely - if very grey! I am so very jealous of the fishing! To much puppy care and writing here to even think of that!

5:18 pm  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Nice. And cold, too. But looks like you enjoyed it.

I did wonder what a maalie was, and now I know.

1:46 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the little birches - maybe there's a market for them in Japan.


5:42 am  

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