In the Kandalaksha Nature Reserve

In June Nature Reserve’s scientists count all birds that nest on the islands. This is long and hard work. The Nature Reserve includes over 500 islands, some of them with over 100 nests of sea birds! Each island needs to be thoroughly inspected, with each nest found, each egg measured and its developmenet assessed, and rings put on all birds, young or mature, that can be caught. Although hard, this is very happy work. So many interesting and beautiful things can be seen in these June days. I’m happy to be participating in this work on Kandalaksha Nature Reserve’s islands for my 35th year now. Here are some photo shots to give an idea how it is to work on these islands:

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We haven’t yet made it to the reserve’s islands when we encountered white swans in the mouth of the river.

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On our way we’ve checked artificial nests that Nature Reserve’s employees have hung up on the islands for ducks. One of them a family of Boreal owl.

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Below is a nest of the Arctic tern.

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Arctic tern is the world’s absolute champion on the distance it migrates. Every year this small bird travels from Arctic to Antarctic region, coverting up to 20 th. km.

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The tern’s eggs are tiny but each one needs to be measured.

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Although birds make up the majority of the Reserve’s population, there are more than birds on the islands. Here is a hare we’ve spooked.

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This large seal is also called “hare” – sea hare. It was sunbathing on rocks on the island shore.35

The main “hero” of the Kandalaksha Nature Reserve is the Common Eider. The Reserve have been set up over 80 years ago to protect this species.

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At this time female Eiders are sitting on eggs. They let humans approach very closely in hope of not getting noticed because the only protection the Eider has on land is its protective colouring.

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We try capturing the Eider to put a ring on it. A big net on a long handle is used for that, and we are far from being successful each and every time..

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But sometimes we get them.

Then they get a ring on their leg. Ringing helps studying their lives: how long they live, where they spend winters etc.

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Once ringed the Eider is let go.

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All the eggs in the nest are measured, and the degree of development is assessed.

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In this nest a baby Eider is starting to come out. Sometimes this process happens before our eyes.

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Eiders we’ve scared off their nests are waiting on the rocks for us to leave. Once we do they come back to their nests.

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In the middle of June eggs of all bird species are intensely hatching. The young ones, like this Oystercatcher baby, remain in the nest.

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These are herring gull’s babies.

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And here the herring gull has grown enough to run away from us, together with its parents, to the rock by the shore.

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The small ones will not usually run away but stay put in the grass or between rocks. We find them, put rings on, and put them back to where their parents will find them.

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We also measure the length of their heads, which helps in estimating their age.

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Occasionally we manage to take our eyes off the birds and look at the surrounding beaty.99

This is Rhodiola rosea, or Golden root in bloom. Sometimes this plant is calle the Ginseng of the north. Its tincture is said to have many medicinal properties. Don’t know, as I haven’t personally tried it. The Golden root is a protected species, listed in the Murmansk Region Book of Rare and Endangered Species.

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But we can’t look around for long. We need to get done and leave the island to allow the birds to come back to their nests, or else the eggs will cool off and die. See the number of birds there on the island?

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Even if we humans treat baby birds with extreme care we will never be able to replace the parents.

120Saying good bye to this island and moving on to the next one..

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