The members of the Society this week were treated to an outstanding presentation by the renowned wildlife photographer Nigel Spencer. Although based in Leicestershire he spends much of his time in the Western Islands of Scotland. As well as being a wildlife photographer he is an avid climber and Munro bagger but his true love is messing about in boats. His talk titled “Journey to the Artic” was a spellbinding insight of a seven week summer trip along with others on a converted 100 foot ice breaking trawler.
Leaving from northern Norway to cruise around the Spitzbergen [Svalbard Island Archipelago] getting as close as 500 miles to the North Pole. His pictures included shots taken from the ships crows nest. There were pictures of Beluga Whales, Arctic Foxes, Seals, Walrus and of course Polar Bears. Many Arctic bird pictures were shown including various types of Skuas, Ivory Gulls, Terns, Sandpipers, Eider Ducks, Snow Buntings, Guillemots and Barnacle Geese. Also cliffs with huge breeding colonies of up to 8 million Kittiwakes. The Norwegians have turned these Islands into nature reserves which they rigorously police.
Much of the trip was spent looking for the Polar Bears which are mainly solitary and track far and wide over the pack ice. They were lucky this trip when the came across the carcase of a large whale frozen in the ice with a good number of the bears homing onto the carcase. This huge source of meat would ensure that the Polar Bears in the vicinity would be well fed and fit for the coming winter. Nigel’s presentation concluded with lots of stunning shots of the bears and their cubs in their natural habitat with a musical accompament which left the audience gasping in admiration.