Just back from a magic trip to the High Arctic or rather Spitsbergen also know as Svalbard in Norway. We went on a 16-day sailing trip around Spitsbergen in a 100 year old sailing boat with ten (small) cabins totally 19 passengers and 5 crew.
Arctic Terns and Black-legged Kittiwake.
It has always been high on my wish-list to see polar bears in the wild, and we were not disappointed seeing a total of 15 individuals over the 16 days trip. We were fortunate enough to get close enough for photography in 4 cases.
For a period of 4 months in the summer time the sun never goes down. This is also a period where polar bears are most dangereous, as the cannot hunt after seals because of reduced ice cover. Tragically during our trip a 17 year old UK student was killed and 4 other injured by a polar bear 25 km from Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen.
lWe encountered below polar bear swimming in a big circle around the boat at 1.30 am in the morning!
The average temperatures during the trip were around 5 degrees centigrades, however, at times this felt much colder when it was windy and wet. Below is a Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta hyperborea) in summer plummage.