Birding Varanger


The way westwards from Kongsfjorden is spectacular. Here the road winds its way along the coast, through rugged landscape and fine delta areas. The whole coast is excellent for observing migrating and resting seabirds, divers and ducks. Here there are exciting areas for birds of prey and passerines. The harbour in Berlevåg is especially fine for gulls and ducks. There are also a couple of good localities for waders. Berlevåg lies at the north-western part of the Varanger peninsula, and borders on the large and resourcerich Barents Sea. Both marine and high-alpine species thrive here in close proximity to each other.

The best time to visit

Along the coast there are interesting areas throughout the year. The period from April to August is particularly good.

Habitat and observation species

The vegetation in the areas around Berlevåg and Kjølnes is sparse. Only along the rivers and in the delta areas are there any small birches and willow scrub. The coast is varied, from cliffs to beaches of stone and sand. Along the road one passes several good bird localities, and there are many places to stop. It can be rewarding to carefully study the fjords and the sea, and to investigate the deltas and the harbour area in Berlevåg. Kjølnes lighthouse is one of the best places to see seabirds in Finnmark, and can be compared to the more famous Slettnes lighthouse. Here one can stand in the lee of the lighthouse or watch birds from the car if the weather is bad. During migration in May one can see hundreds of Pomarine Skuas and Yellow-billed Divers, as well as large numbers of Fulmars, Arctic Skuas, Kittiwakes and auks. All four species of divers and skuas may be found here. The birds often pass by close to land. 

Along the whole coast one can see large flocks of Common Scoters, Long-tailed Ducks and Common Eiders, as well as several other duck species. Risfjorden and Sandfjorden are particularly favourable localities. Here the birds often lie near land and in calmer water than out at sea. It is usual to see the White-tailed Eagle along this whole stretch of road, and it often sits right beside the road. There are also good possibilities of seeing Rough-legged Buzzard and Gyr Falcon.  It is possible to find otters along the coast. They can most often be seen at night. By studying the sea one can observe several species of mammals. Common and grey seals are relatively common. Whales such as porpoise and killer whale can also be seen when one searches for seabirds out on the sea. In summer one can have the good fortune to see flocks of white whales. These often come very close to land and are a fantastic sight!

The busy fishing harbour in Berlevåg attracts many birds. This place is a paradise for gull enthusiasts. Here there are almost always large numbers to be seen. Glaucous and Iceland Gulls are not uncommon here, also in summer. From September to April these are quite common, and the Glaucous Gull especially can appear in large numbers. The long breakwater around Berlevåg forms a calm and nutritious environment. Flocks of Steller’s Eiders and King Eiders overwinter here. In recent years the Steller’s Eider has become scarce in summer, but it is quite possible to find the King Eider in summer. Immediately before entering the town one drives over the outflow of a river, and here the gulls gather to wash themselves in fresh water.

This spot also attracts some ducks and waders. Around the airport and Skånsvika there are good localities. Here there are open areas of farmland and coastal fields. Among the breeding birds here are Redthroated Pipit, Lapland Bunting, Twite, Shorelark and the locally scarce Skylark. In spring and autumn one can see large flocks of Snow Buntings. In the small pools between the road and the sea one can find Red-necked Phalaropes and various dabbling ducks. The beach innermost in Skånsvika is a favourable place for gulls and waders. The Purple Sandpiper can be seen here in mid-summer, and from August until June the species is common along the whole coastline. The road continues into Skånvikdalen down to Store Molvik. The valley floor is quite fertile with willow scrub and small wetlands. The Common Snipe can be seen displaying, and one can find the Willow Ptarmigan by the road. Store Molvik lies down by the fjord. Here there are small trees and a river outflow that forms a small lake.


At the road junction on Båtsfjordfjellet one turns left along road nr 890 towards Berlevåg. After passing Kongsfjord, it is about 30 km further to Berlevåg. The road first follows Risfjorden and then Sandfjorden. Five kilometres before Berlevåg lies Kjølnes lighthouse. One can also reach Berlevåg by plane or by boat (Hurtigruta). Here there are cafés and overnight accommodation.





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Brand: Visit Varanger
Company: Greater Arctic Moment AS
Address: The Icehouse
Ørtangen 10A, NO-9800 Vadsø
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