21- 30 July 2020
Before the few days planned in the Dovrejfell National Park, where the Muskoxen were waiting for us, we spent two days in Dombas, a small uninteresting village which is the starting point to visit the Fokstumyra nature reserve. Created in 1923 and classified as a Ramsar site, this reserve is the oldest protected area in Norway. A total of 168 bird species have been recorded at Fokstumyra, which is an impressive number for a high altitude wetland (940-960m). The site is a breeding habitat for large populations of ducks, waders and raptors. The area is also important as a stopover site in the spring and early summer for birds waiting for their mountain breeding sites to clear of snow and ice. There is a well maintained path, partly on stilts, around the reserve. Summer is not the best birding season in this reserve. Nevertheless, we saw, among others, a few Bluethroet, Black-throated loons in the distance and a Great Snipe that we raised. The most beautiful surprise was the sighting of 3 Mooses including a young one.
Our second stop, the Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park, was the highlight of the trip. It was our only opportunity to see and photograph Muskoxen and Arctic Fox. The park covers 1830 square kilometres with a wide range of natural environments, from peatlands and rivers to high plateaux and peaks of over 2200 meters. The climate there is very cold and dry, hence the possible survival of Muskoxen who need these conditions. Indeed, this animal straight out of Prehistory, is protected by a long, very insulating fleece that cannot bear summer temperatures exceeding 10 degrees. It is then easily observable in summer because it searches for the last patches of snow to stay cool… We camped for three nights in this park with idyllic landscapes and we were able to see Musk Oxen every day, but it was on the last morning, leaving the tent, that we were able to observe them closely: a group of males were feeding peacefully, some two hundred meters away! A wonderful memory that occured just as we left the camp!
As for the Arctic fox, we were not lucky enough to meet him; the opportunity to organise a trip just for him...
Concerning the birdlife, relatively rich in these mountains, luck was not so good: we were, on the one hand, too late in the season (nesting over) and, on the other hand, the strong winds and the rain did not help us to spot the Birds. However, there was an great density of Bluethroat, most of them young birds of the year, and a nice group of Rock Ptarmigan.
On our way to Runde Island in the west of the country, we spent a few days in the Valdres region, which is very popular for both summer and winter sports activities. A region a little too touristic for our taste. Valdresflye is a high plateau of tundra with all the birdlife of this kind of environment rather common beyond the polar circle. The weather was awful: uninterrupted rain for two days and two nights, cold and stormy wind. We finally switched from the tent to a chalet with a good wood fire. We still watched a few waders, birds of prey and the Horned Lark, which was well worth enduring this difficult climate. Indeed, this passerine is becoming more and more rare in Scandinavia for unknown reasons and to be able to observe it for a long time at very short distance is a real chance!
The other visited region: