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List of species seen

 Pink-footed Goose 

1 on tundra of Edgeøya; Two groups of 2 & 3 flying over Bellsund in the morning, and 3 in the afternoon

Brent Goose

This is the least common of the three breeding geese on Svalbard, and we only saw 3 on Storøya, at the point where the Polar Bear subsequently appeared after our departure

Barnacle Goose

Group of ~30 North of Longyearbyen, perhaps ~80 on lagoons next to the airport, and ~12 grazing in the centre of town; ~4 small family groups Smeereburgodden; Two groups of 6 & 16 flying over Bellsund, and a single later from the glacier in the same fjord

Eurasian Wigeon 

1 female on the inlet at Longyearbyen

Common Eider

No full plumaged males were seen – all birds were dark, which seemed to indicate eclipse plumage in any males present. ~50 on the shoreline at Longyearbyen; Quite common West of Spitsbergen; ~30 birds, some with ducklings, at Lågøya; 3 flew past the beach at Storøya; 2x2 flew past ship at Barentsøya;~12 with young on the sea from Bellsund

Long-tailed Duck 

2 flew over ship at Barentsøya; ~25 in small groups on small lakes on Edgeøya

Red-throated Diver

All birds seen were still in full breeding plumage - 1 on lagoon, and 2 overhead at Smeereburgodden; 4 overhead at Kvitøya; 2 on lagoon and 2 overhead on Storøya; ~4 on lagoons at Russebukta; 1 flew from the head of Bellsund


This was THE common bird seen throughout, seen from the southern tip of Svalbard, to the ice floes of the North-west, and also in the fjords


All birds in non breeding plumage - 3+3 at Longyearbyen; Group of 5 on Lågøya


2 on lagoon at Storøya

Purple Sandpiper

Quite easily the most common wader seen, with all birds in non breeding or mainly non breeding plumage - Small numbers along shore at Longyearbyen; ~20 Lågøya; 2 feeding at stream edge at Barentsøya; 1 flew around the ship in Hornshund; ~8 on the shoreline at Bellsund


3 non breeding plumaged birds with Purple Sandpipers on open mud at Longyearbyen

Black-legged Kittiwake

Behind Fulmatr, this was the second most regular bird seen during the voyage - Small numbers amongst Fulmars at sea following boat; Common West of Spitsbergen and off Smeereburgodden; Reasonably common in the pack ice; Small numbers at Lågøya; Colony of nesting birds in at the head of Innvika, Duvefjorden; Regular Kvitøya & Storøya; Common Bråsvellbreen, with some perched on icebergs; many followed feeding Humpback Whales on way to Alkefjellet; Small colonies heard in the low cloud on the rocks above Bellsund

Ivory Gull

Perhaps personally the most sought after of the potential gull species which could be seen. The 2 at the Polar Bear carcass in the pack ice were almost predictable, with the ice watched for some time after the bear had departed for these typical scavengers. In addition, 1 flew past ship on way to Innvika, Duvefjorden, and 1 later past the iceberg; 3 birds flew over the zodiac and landed on an iceberg in Hornshund, with 2 single sightings early on; 1 flying towards glacier at head of Bellsund

Common Gull 

1 bird on the sea at Longyearbyen

Great Black-backed Gull 

1 en route to Smeereburgodden

Glaucous Gull

This was the only commonly seen large gull throughout - Fairly common around Longyearbyen; Fairly common West of Spitsbergen; 1 at the Polar Bear kill within the pack ice; A few birds flying around Lågøya; 1 next to Walrus on Phippsøya Island; 1 chased juvenile Kittiwake from the colony at Innvika, Duvefjorden; 2 over beach at Kvitøya, 2 over Storøya; Few birds amongst the auks at Alkefjellet; 1 at Black Guillemot colony, Barentsøya; 1 at Edgeøya; 1 over ice at Hornshund; ~5 on Bellsund

Arctic Tern 

Very common around Longyearbyen, where there were many breeding birds with chicks; Common West of Spitsbergen; 2 birds near to the pack ice; Common and nesting on Lågøya; 2 reasonably large colonies at Storøya; 2 on beach harassing Arctic Skua on Edgeøya; Few in Hornshund

Great Skua

2 on rocks just offshore at Smeereburgodden; 2 over the boat as we left Storøya

Pomarine Skua

All birds were light phase with full spoons - 3 over sea at Kvitøya, 1 over sea at Storøya

Arctic Skua

All adults were light phase - Groups of 3 and 5 flew over Longyearbyen in South-easterly direction; 3 on Smeereburgodden, with 2 separate birds over Smeereburgodden; 2 on ice floe in the pack ice; 3 over Lågøya; 2 pairs harassing terns Storøya; Pair on tundra at Barentsøya; 1 being harassed by 2 Arctic Terns on Edgeøya, with 2 over; 1 in Hornshund; Pair with single well grown chick on Bellsund, and 1 chasing a Kittiwake further up the fjord

Little Auk 

Disappointingly, the potential colonies which we could have visited had all departed by the time we arrived (a sign in Longyearbyen even seemed to indicate the presence of one up the valley towards the glacier) - Group of 3 flying and 1 on sea off Smeereburgodden; Small groups of 1-6 swimming or flying in the pack ice; Groups of ~8 and ~12 flying around Innvika, Duvefjorden

Brünnich's Guillemot

2 flying in front of the ship on the edge of the pack ice were the only birds we saw until we reached the colony at Alkefjellet. We were lucky that the colony was still mainly present here, despite there being estimates of 60000 pairs at its height. The cliff faces still looked full of birds, as did the air around us, and even decent numbers on the sea

Black Guillemot

These were seen regularly, usually in small numbers. Some birds on the sea could be coaxed closer by twiddling fingers next to the water – strange but it seemed to work! ~10 on the sea and flying over at Longyearbyen; Common West of Spitsbergen; Occasional near to the pack ice, including a pair of juveniles              ~10 around Phippsøya Island; Regular on journey at and within Innvika, Duvefjorden; 3 over seas at Storøya; 3 flew past zodiac at Bråsvellbreen; few birds at Alkefjellet; ~20 birds seen at cliff colony, Barentsøya; 3 past beach on Edgeøya; Small numbers in Hornshund, including 2 juveniles; A few birds off Bellsund

Atlantic Puffin

1 on sea as boat left Longyearbyen; group of 3, and ~ 6 singles West of Spitsbergen, 2 off Smeereburgodden; 2 just South of the pack ice 

Snow Bunting

This is the only passerine regularly seen here. Perhaps the easiest place to see them is in Longyearbyen, where they are quite mobile - 2 single birds and group of 3 (including male) shoreline at Longyearbyen; 2 on beach at Edgeøya; ~4 in the boulders at Bellsund in the morning, and 1 in the afternoon



Arctic Fox

The first was a leucistic variant patrolling the grassy slopes below the Brünich’s Guillemot colony at Alkefjellet; 1-2 seen x3 from Black Guillemot cliffs to lower slopes above tundra at Barentsøya

Polar Bear  

This was likely to be the main reason for most of the passengers on the ship coming on this voyage, and they most certainly didn’t disappoint. The likelihood of seeing them is increased further North, and this is where we saw all of ours. We were also fortunate to see some uncommon to outright rare observations, including surplus killing of seals, an attempt on a group of Walruses, a 3 hour long visual of our first bear, and a swimming bear between the ship and our shore landing area - 2 separate individuals, at Smeereburgodden; 1 made two kills in the pack ice; 3 (2 together) on Phippsøya Island; 2 on beach at Kvitøya; 1 (not seen by myself) at Storøya, rounding the corner of the shingle beach as the last of the zodiacs was boarded


Many haul outs are known, and we visited a few of them. All had at least some animals present, and all allowed close approach of the crowd - 1 on rock and pair in water at Smeereburgodden; Two groups totalling ~60 Lågøya haul out; ~50 on Phippsøya Island; ~200 Kvitøya, 2 haulouts of ~ 60 at Storøya

Hooded Seal  

Immature on ice in the pack ice 

Bearded Seal

1 behind ship in water at Smeereburgodden; 2-3 near to zodiac at Bråsvellbreen; 2 on ice in second channel at Hornshund, and a third as we left this channel later; 1 off the landing site in the afternoon at Bellsund

Harp Seal

Large group of ~2000, with smaller groups of 2-8 in the pack ice

Common Seal

1 on rock at Smeereburgodden


These are very easy to approach, with some groups in the past having been reported as walking through watching tourists - 2 in the distance while walking on Smeereburgodden; 9 on tundra walk, Barentsøya; ~15 on tundra, Edgeøya, some with calves; 9 on the moss at Bellsund

Humpback Whale 

At least 8 feeding on the channel towards Alkefjellet. This group displayed many behaviour patterns of interest, including breaching, bubble fishing, and also smacking the water with flippers



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