Russebukta, otherwise known as Russian’s Bay, was our first stop on day three of the expedition. The flanks of this bay, leading up the nearby mountains, is a perfect example of tundra, soggy, saturated, squishy tundra. While here we saw many reindeer and a tons of bird life!
Tundra and snow.
Through the soggy tundra!
During the summer the tundra is soggy, but in the winter it will freeze solid. These straights lines in the moss are evidence of the the past winter’s freeze.
Reindeer on Svalbard have no natural predators. As such they are pretty unbothered by our presence.
One adaptation of reindeer is a white, hollow hair the covers their bodies. This hollow hair acts somewhat like a greenhouse, helping to trap heat next to their bodies. In the Arctic, ever bit of warmth helps.
Male and female reindeer shed their antlers each year.
A pair of barnacle geese fly by.
Snow bunting are the only song bird found in this region of the Arctic.
Snow bunting egg found tucked into some grass.
Normally among birds its the males who have brighter colors and are a bit more showy. For phalaropes, however, it’s the ladies who habe a bit more pizazz. Here we see a red phalarope looking for food.
Later in the day we headed to another place on the island of Edgøya known as Diskobukta. Despite it’s name, there was no disco happening in this bay, but what we did find was truly exciting: a massive colony of black-legged kittiwake and the clever and persistent arctic fox.
Approaching the black-legged kittiwake colony.
Black-legged kittiwakes in flight.
An arctic fox surveys the base of a cliff looking for chicks or eggs that may have fallen down, providing an easy lunch.
Losing its winter coat in favor of a summer one to better blend in with its surroundings.
Here is an arctic poppy nestled between two small rocks. In the Arctic even the smallest changes in landscape can have dramatic impacts on vegetation.
One of the naturalists shows a guest a rock. See the ship in the background.
Fin whale vertebra stool.
Jaw bone of a fin whale.
That long curving piece of white? That’s a bone from a fin whale… it’s JAW BONE! Yep, fin whales really are huge growing to nearly 90 feet long.
Reindeer shed their antlers annually.