This is what we went to Norway for!
Although I’m so happy to be back in Scotland, I can’t help missing Norway. Obviously the humpback whales and orcas were the highlight, but the northern lights, eagles, sunsets and even the cold were all so special too. There are already whispers about going again in 2021, but for now I’m still reminiscing over the incredible sightings I had during my trip this month.
If you’d asked me a month ago if I thought I’d be this close to wild orcas, I’d have replied with a straight no way. But somehow this is what happened. Within ten minutes of leaving the harbour we were surrounded by orcas. We kept our distance of course, but there’s no rule against orcas approaching boats and that’s exactly what they did. A pod of males, females and even calves cruised tightly alongside us. As much as I was itching to take photos of the entire encounter, I forced myself to glance over my camera too because I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing.
It’s the word every whale watcher wants to hear. On our fourth day on the boat one of our group screamed and pointed. I ducked below the cabin and glanced through the window to see a white splash as large as a circus top. Humpback whales often breach more than once so I darted around to the other side of the boat and lifted my camera, finger poised on the shutter. Seconds later the whale leapt again, flipping in mid-air from its front onto its back. I shrieked into my viewfinder as water streamed off the whale’s huge pectoral fins. The sound of the whale hitting the water was like a thunderclap. Seeing a forty ton animal erupting into the air like that left me with my jaw on the floor!
This is a moment that will stay with me for a very long time. On one of the calmer days we found this beautiful pod of orcas. As well as males with large triangular dorsal fins and slightly smaller females there were also some calves breaking the surface for air. Making sure we kept our distance, we drove the boat slowly alongside the orcas, which were framed by stunning snowy mountains. After a while they dived and disappeared, leaving us spellbound in their wake!
What a bird! Known as the “flying barn door”, white tailed eagles are the largest bird of prey in the UK. In the early 20th century they were hunted to extinction but were reintroduced from Norway in the 1970s. Now these huge birds can be found from the Isle of Mull to the Isle of Wight and are doing well in Britain. I’ve seen them a few times in Scotland but at a distance – in Norway they came so close that they soared right over my head!
I had an absolute blast in Norway with the best group of people! Nothing like being housebound in quarantine together for ten days and all going for a Covid test to break the ice. It was a trip of a lifetime for me and although I’m pleased to be home and looking forward to my first Christmas by the sea, being back in “the real world” has made Norway seem like a distant dream.