Welcome to Rob's Journeys Web Site

Russian Far East - 2010

The Cruise on the

Spirit of Enderby

5th to 14th of July 2010

 

Trip notes and photographs.

The notes are brief with some photographs of the trip but the main wild life photographs are on other pages and you will need to follow the following links. 

 

Animals of Russian Far East

Birds of the Russian Far East

Flowers of the Russian far East

 

First trip was with The Lost World  www.travelkamchatka.com

The cruise was with Heritage Expeditions  www.heritage-expeditions.com

 

For the original Flikr page please link to Russian Far East.

 

 IMG_6355

IMG_6407

Kamchatka-0870

 

 

July 5th

We set sail in the afternoon from Petropavlovsk travelling down the east coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula.  The weather quickly deteriorates as we are on the fringe of a bad storm.  Only a third of the passengers manage to arrive for Dinner and most go to their beds early. 

Brünnich’s guillemot

Uria lomvia

Slaty-backed gull

Larus schistisagus

Brnnich's Guillemot

Uria lomvia

Sperm whale

Physeter macrocephalus

Laysan albatross

Phoebastria immutabilis

Laysan albatross

Phoebastria immutabilis

Red-faced Cormorant

Phalacrocorax urile

Northern Fulmar

Fulmarus glacialis

 

 

July 6th

After a very rough night we woke to see the coast of Paramushir Island.  It is too rough to land and so we travel south through the Kuril Islands to try to avoid too much of the rough seas.  The day is spent resting after a bad night and attending lectures about the wild life and people of the region.

Slaty-backed gull

Larus schistisagus

Slaty-backed gull

Larus schistisagus

 

 

July 7th

Wake up it is 6.15 am!  The ship is rolling heavily in the swell near Matua Island.  After our breakfast and briefing we get into the zodiacs and immediately Adam spots some Orcas so we travel off shore to get a good view. Returning we land on Toporkovyy Island.  Northern Fulmars, Tufted Puffins and Crested Auklets all nest in large numbers on the island.  Once ashore we scramble across the slippery rocks and up onto the island.  We make a short climb and then have to cross numerous trenches dug by the Japanese during the war.  The Pigeon Guillemots and Slaty-backed Gulls also nest here and are very vocal with some dive bombing by the gulls if we get too near their nests.  There are good opportunities to see the birds on their nests and to appreciate the many wild flowers to be seen.  After four hours ashore we manage , with some difficulty, to board the ship once more and to sail for Yankicha Island.

Spirit of Enderby

 

Orca

Orcinus orca

 

 

Orca

Orcinus orca

Crested auklet

Aethia cristatella

Orca

Orcinus orca

Crested auklet

Aethia cristatella

Tufted puffin

Fratercula cirrhata

Crested auklet

Aethia cristatella

Pigeon guillemot

Cepphus columba

Tufted puffin

Fratercula cirrhata

Pigeon guillemot

Cepphus columba

Japanese War Trench

 

Common Raven's nest

Corvus corax

Northern Fulmar

Fulmarus glacialis

 

 

 

 

 

 

We arrive at Yankicha Island in better weather but by the time the zodiacs were in the water the swell and tides made loading them difficult.  The aim was to enter the caldera but the big swell and low tide means crossing the bar was too dangerous.  So we drive (in the zodiacs!) to the other side of the island where thousands of Crested and Whiskered Auklets assemble before roosting.  This is an amazing spectacle and we sit in the zodiacs and watch them with some Fork-tailed Storm Petrels skiming the surface of the sea. On the rock ledges there are Brunnich's Guillemots and Black-legged Kittiwakes nesting with several Northern Fur Seals swimming amongst the kelp.  By this time as dusk approaches and we are becoming chilled we return to the ship for some warmth and good food.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fork-tailed storm petrel

Oceanodroma furcata

Fork-tailed storm petrels

Oceanodroma furcata

Northern fur seal

Callorhinus ursinus

 

Crested and Whiskered

Auklets Aethia cristatella

and Aethia pygmaea

 

 

July 8th

Another early wake-up as we prepare to land on Simushir Island, our most southerly island of the Kurils.  We land in Broutonia Bay where the Russians had a military base but which is now deserted.  Some of the group are very interested in the old buildings whilst others search for the wildlife.  We see the Pine-grosbeak, Eurasian Bullfinch, Arctic Warbler, Middendorff's Warbler, Spotted Nutcracker amongst others.  There were also many wild flowers some of which could not be identified.

Eurasian Bullfinch

Pyrrhula pyrrhula

griseiventris

Arctic warbler

Phylloscopus borealis

 

Arctic warbler

Phylloscopus borealis

 

Spotted nutcracker

Nucifraga caryocatactes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orchid 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We return to the ship and start our journey north passing the island of Ketoy with it's volcano.  As we sail past Ostrov Raykoke we are surrounded by thousands of Northern Fulmars with Dahl's Porpoise playing in the bow wave whilst a Steller's Sea Lion Colony is seen on the shore.

Ostrov Raykoke

 

Northern Fulmars

Fulmarus glacialis

Steller Sea Lions

Eumetopias jubatus

July 9th

To-day we arrive at Onekotan Island and land in Nemo Bay.  This is our first opportunity for a long walk and we set off through the multitude of flowers to Black Lake in good weather.  The island is covered in Siberian Stone Pine and Dwarf Birch.  The trees only reach a height of about one metre and around them grow many wildflowers such as Narcissus Anemone, Goldish Rhododendron and the orchid Keyflower.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dwarf Birch

Betula nana

Narcissus Anemone

Anemone narcissiflora

Kamchatka Trillium

Trillium camschatcense

Wedgeleaf Primrose

Primula cuneifolia

Keyflower Orchid

Dactylorhiza aristata

Weasel's-snout

Misopates sp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 10th

This morning we arrive at Bukhta Russkaya.  It is a beautiful morning and after an hours wait while the border guards give us permission to land we land on the beach and go in hunt for Bears.  We find only fresh foot prints.  There are fields of Yellow Lupine-like Goldenbanner a few birds but no bears.

We return to the ship for lunch on the fore deck while we motor slowly down the fiord.  After lunch we board the zodiacs once more and travel along the coast.  Immediately we spot a pod of Orcas and our patience is rewarded by some excellent sightings.  Further along the coast we find Steller's sea lions hauled out on the rocks while some of the young males play around the zodiacs.  Steller's Sea Eagles are seen nesting on the cliff tops.  We then depart for Olga Bay further north along the coast near the Valley of the Geysers.

Sea Otter

Enhydra lutris

Spotted Seal

Phoca largha

Sea Otter

Enhydra lutris

Bear Footprints

 

 

 

Yellow Lupins

for cattle feed

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orca

Orcinus orca

Orca

Orcinus orca

Orca

Orcinus orca

Orca

Orcinus orca

Steller's Sea Eagle nest

Haliaeetus pelagicus

 

 

Steller Sea Lion

Eumetopias jubatus

Steller Sea Lion

Eumetopias jubatus

Steller Sea Lion

Eumetopias jubatus

July 11th

By 0700 we are in the zodiacs and looking at Grey Whales foraging in the shallows of Olga Bay.  After getting some good photos we land and start our walk along the beach.  The view from the beach of the Kronotzky Volcano (3528m)is stunning.  Soon we spot a Red Fox feeding on a dead sea otter.  There are sea birds off shore, waders and Ravens nesting in the cliffs but then we spot A BEAR!  The Kamchatkan subspecies of brown bear is the second largest in the world.  It is sleeping on the beach until it sees us, then it finally decides it had better move and climbs up a gulley out of sight.  Further along the beach is a lone Kamchatka reindeer. We return to the ship after looking at Largha seals and more Grey Whales.  Is it really six hours since we left the ship?  Yes our stomachs reply!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gray Whale

 Eschrichtius robustus

Gray Whale

 Eschrichtius robustus

Gray Whale

 Eschrichtius robustus

Red-necked Grebe

Podiceps grisegena

Red-breasted Merganser

Mergus serrator

 

 

Kamchatka Reindeer

Rangifer tarandus phylarchus

Red Fox

Vulpes vulpes

Kamchatka Reindeer

Rangifer tarandus phylarchus

Kamchatka Brown Bear

Ursus arctos beringianus

Kamchatka Brown Bear

Ursus arctos beringianus

Kamchatka Brown Bear

Ursus arctos beringianus

Steller's Sea Eagle

Haliaeetus pelagicus

Far Eastern Curlew

Numenius madagascariensis

Steller's Sea Eagle

Haliaeetus pelagicus

Common Raven

Corvus corax

 

 

 

 

Then we set sail across the ocean to the Commander Islands.

July 12th

We arrive in the morning off shore from the small and only town on the Commander Islands:- Nikolskye on Bering Island.  As we walk to the Museum there are hundreds of Rock Sandpipers feeding along the shore.  The museum naturally has as its focus the life of Commander Bering.  There is also the skeleton of the extinct Steller's Sea Cow, named after Bering's naturalist Steller. During our free time some visit the studio of a local artist while others wander in search of birds and animals.  I managed to find an arctic fox and some Mongolian Plovers one of which insisted on providing me with the 'broken wing syndrome' to lure me away from her young.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steller's Sea Cow

Hydrodamalis gigas

Now extinct

Arctic fox

Vulpes lagopus

Arctic fox

Vulpes lagopus

Lapland Longspur

Calcarius lapponicus

Glaucous-winged Gull

Larus glaucescens

Lapland Longspur

Calcarius lapponicus

Weasel's-snout

Misopates sp.

Lesser Sand Plover

Charadrius mongolus

Lesser Sand Plover

Charadrius mongolus

Rock Sandpiper

Calidris ptilocnemis

 

 

Rock Sandpiper

Calidris ptilocnemis

After lunch back on board we sailed to the north cape of the island to visit a Northern Fur Seal Colony.  Walking to the view point we passed many new and interesting plants.  There are about 1500 males, 5000 females and many young pups.  It is fascinating watching them as there are many confrontations between the large males as they compete to mate with the females.  Soon it is time to return to the zodiacs and to speed across the bay to Ariy Kamen a small rocky off shore Island.  The crossing is very choppy but with some excellent navigation we arrive to find the rocky ledges covered with thousands of breeding birds.  On the narrow ledges are Black-legged and Red-legged Kittiwakes while the Common Guillemots use the wider ledges with some Red-faced Cormorants.  On the grassy cliff tops there are Tufted Puffins and a few Crested Auklets.  In some of the rock crevices there were a few Horned Puffins. 

 

 

Kamchatka Thistle

Cirsium kamtschaticum

White False Hellebore

Veratrum viride

Northern Fur Seal

Callorhinus ursinus

Northern Fur Seal

Callorhinus ursinus

Northern Fur Seal

Callorhinus ursinus

 

 

 

 

Northern Fulmar

Fulmarus glacialis

Black-legged Kittiwake

Rissa tridactyla

Black-legged Kittiwake

Rissa tridactyla

 

 

Common Guillemot

Uria aalge

Glaucous-winged Gull

Larus glaucescens

Glaucous-winged Gull

Larus glaucescens

Red-faced Cormorant

Phalacrocorax urile

Red-legged Kittiwake

Rissa brevirostris

Horned Puffin

Fratercula corniculata

Red-legged Kittiwake

Rissa brevirostris

Red-legged Kittiwake

Rissa brevirostris

Red-legged Kittiwake

Rissa brevirostris

Red-legged Kittiwake

Rissa brevirostris

Common Guillemot

Uria aalge

Tufted Puffin

Fratercula cirrhata

July 13th

During the night we sail around to the south eastern side of Bering Island and land the zodiacs in Commander Bay.  On the hillside covered in wild flowers are the graves of some of the men from the Bering Expedition including that of Vitus Bering.  It is a beautiful location with some lovely insectivorous plants called Yatabe Lady's Slipper.

Bering's Grave

 

 

Spotted lady slipper

Cypripedium guttatum

subsp. yatabeanum

Graves of crew

 

Spotted lady slipper

Cypripedium guttatum

subsp. yatabeanum

Kamchatka Rhododendron

Rhododendron

camtschaticum

 

 

 

We set sail once more and on our way back to Kamchatka we are fortunate to come across a a large number of Humpback Whales.

Humpback Whale

Megaptera novaeangliae

Humpback Whale

Megaptera novaeangliae

 

 

Humpback Whale

Megaptera novaeangliae

Humpback Whale

Megaptera novaeangliae

Humpback Whale

Megaptera novaeangliae

Laysan Albatross

Phoebastria immutabilis

Laysan Albatross

Phoebastria immutabilis

Laysan Albatross

Phoebastria immutabilis

Common Guillemot

Uria aalge

 

 

 

 

July 14th

We arrive back to the Kamchatka coast off the Zhubanova River estuary where the ship is rolling heavily.  We wait hoping to be able to have a zodiac cruise up the river but the weather deteriorates further as the waves are bigger and it is becoming foggy and our excursion is called off.  So we have to be content with attending some more excellent lectures given by some of the crew.

 

July 15th

Sadly it is time to say our goodbyes to the friends we have made amongst the crew and passengers and make our way to the airport to sit and wait for our flights.

More photos may be seen by going to one of the links below.

These other pages are not completed unless coloured blue.

Mammals   

Birds

Flowers

 

First trip was with The Lost World  www.travelkamchatka.com

The cruise was with Heritage Expeditions  www.heritage-expeditions.com