Friday Photo #481 – Spring Oystercatchers

Photo: Oystercatcher pair on coastal rock with snowy Justadtind in the background on the first day of spring, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. March 20, 2022. 17:25

Last Sunday was the vernal/spring equinox, marking the astronomical start of Spring here in the north. Though even after an unusually mild March, snow is once again falling today – so ‘green spring’ is still a ways a way up here. Yet there’s always one sign every year that winter will be ending eventually and that is the arrival of the Oystercatchers along Lofoten’s coastline.

This year, my first sighting was on Sunday the 13th, as I was driving towards Reine. I tried to get near some at Yttesand beach, but as I was slowly approaching, someone flew a drone overhead and scared them off… Though I’m not overly interested in bird photography, its more so that I have a record of when certain events occur each year. But I’d still like a nice photo is possible.

For this image, was on my second attempt I just took a walk down to the coastline from my house, from where I can hear them chirping away all day. At this time of year, before they have nested and laid eggs in the coastal grasses and fields, they are quite skittish and move off quickly. So giving up on the plan of getting very close, I tried to use a bit more of the landscape in the scene. In this case, the distant (and stilly snowy) mountain of Justadtind.

These two were well placed on the top of the rock, allowing me to slowly move around and change up the background a bit. Soon though, a 3rd oystercatcher arrived, to the annoyance of these two, and sent them off to defend their rock from the newcomer.

Head over to my Instagram account for (almost) daily postings of the local conditions here on Lofoten: @distant.north

Camera Info:
Nikon D850
Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6
ISO 640
f 5.6
1/1600 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #480 – A Rock On The Road

Photo: A (very large) rock on the road near Storsandnes beach, Flakstadøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. March 16, 2022. 09:39

The unusually warm temperatures since the beginning of March have begun to thaw out the frozen mountains of winter. But as the sun comes out and the temperatures go up, ice and rocks come down. This particularly large one fell on my road on Wednesday morning – also cutting the internet cable to my village in the process. It’s big enough that they’re going to have to get out the heavy machinery to move it, or perhaps even blast it apart.

As of Thursday, the 815 was also closed near Valberg, on the southern side of Vestvågøy, due to another rock fall. And with heavy rain and wind due all weekend, more rocks will likely be falling from the mountains of Lofoten. To paraphrase one of the guys from the Norwegian road agency about the rockfall on Lofoten: the roads (of Lofoten) won’t be safe until Lofoten is as flat as Denmark…

With that in mind, the road signage on Lofoten, and Norway in general, is quite understated. You can see in this picture that quite appropriately placed rockfall sign just beyond the boulder. While this rock is on the bigger side, rocks large enough to smash through the roof of a car fall along this road on a monthly basis, more or less all year long.

Yet, it is just a few of these tiny signs to warn you of the quite substantial rockfall danger of Myrlandsviein. And these tiny road signs do little to stop the dozen or so tourists in vans and motorhomes camping on the the road each night throughout the summer. Perhaps if they knew the reality of what waits in the mountains above them, they would choose a safer spot to sleep for the night?

Considering how much emphasis Norway puts on road safety, it seems strange that consistent rockfall in a highly touristed area only receives a small notice.

Which brings me to my next point. From a Norwegian perspective, small signs like these do mean something! And yet, I think this translation is lost among the continental European visitors whose countries are often covered in an endless amount of signs that they become subconsciously ignored. If the road was dangerous, it should surely have more than a small sign, right? Not in Norway…

Head over to my Instagram account for (almost) daily postings of the local conditions here on Lofoten: @distant.north

Camera Info:
Nikon Z7 II
Nikon 24-200 f4/6.3
ISO 100
f 10
1/1000 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #479 – Frozen Sand

Photo: Winter storm waves flow over frozen sand at Unstad beach, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 23, 2022. 15:52

During winter cold spells or after heavy snow of the beaches the sand often freezes into a hard, sandy ice. During calm periods, this mostly just stays as a frozen layer on the beach, with the waves gently washing over the beach. But when the waves pick up during winter storms, they often ‘chip’ away at the frozen layer of sand, sometimes forming interesting shapes and lines along the tideline.

This was one of those days at Unstad beach. The waves were big, 4m+, and washing high up the beach. The incoming tide would slowly break away the frozen layer of sand, eventually creating a sharp line across the beach. The bigger waves would break off large chunks of the frozen ice-sand and wash them higher up the beach – and often crashing into my tripod legs, making that series of out of focus from the movement. But as the water flowed back out, there were moments when the tripod remained still and the images sharp.

Even with boot on, it was a wet foot afternoon, as it was better to stay as close to the action as possible. There were a few other compositions I made some attempts at, but those were even closer to the waves, and I spent most my time running back up the beach before I could make a decent composition.

Head over to my Instagram account for (almost) daily postings of the local conditions here on Lofoten: @distant.north

Camera Info:
Nikon Z7 II
Nikon 14-30mm f/4
ISO 100
f 11
0.6 second
WB Daylight

Friday Photo #478 – Storm Chaos

Photo: Traffic jam and car stuck in snowdrift on E10 near Eggum in snow blizzard conditions, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. February 26, 2022. 15:10

In last week’s post I wrote about the coming warm weather due on the weekend. The rain eventually did arrive Saturday night, but not before enveloping Lofoten in a heavy blizzard throughout the afternoon causing chaos along the roadways throughout the islands. By Sunday morning, Lofoten was split in two, with several avalanches closing the E10 on Flakstadøy, and avalanche in Reine, and several of the side roads closed as well. This left tourists and other locals stuck in various locations across the islands.

I myself, ended up stuck in Leknes for Saturday and Sunday nights, with my road closed already since Thursday due to avalanches. I thought about walking home of Friday, but decided against it due to weather and the high avalanche risk. When I finally made it home, I could see several areas where my road had been covered.

But the real chaos of Saturday was on the E10 between Leknes and Solvær, which, when the storm hit in early afternoon caused traffic to come to a halt. I heard stories of people taking 6+ hours to make the normally 1-ish hour drive between the two cities. I was heading towards Svolvær from Leknes when I got stuck in traffic near Eggum, with several cars in the opposite direction stuck in heavy snow drifts on the road, or off the road completely.

Shortly after, I turned around to head back to Leknes as I could the weather was obviously too severe for driving. And even on the way back towards Leknes, the car ahead of me got stuck in a drift, but I was able to help push them out, so we could continue on.

The storm was forecast to be warm and rain, so I think a lot of people were caught out, not expecting the blizzard that hit. It was the worst driving conditions I can remember for years, perhaps even back to the hurricane in winter 2015.

In one of the times I was at a standstill, I managed to get a couple Iphone shots out the window of the chaos around me. But it doesn’t come anywhere near close to showing how bad conditions were and how poor the visibility was…

Head over to my Instagram account for (almost) daily postings of the local conditions here on Lofoten: @distant.north

Camera Info: