Birding Varanger


The nature reserve at Nesseby is one of the best and most famous of the bird localities in Finnmark. Here there are many different biotopes that attract a wide variety of species. There is scarcely any other place in Finnmark where one can find as many species in one area. Nesseby is an excellent place to watch seabirds and waders. It is also a good locality for birds of prey, ducks and passerines. 

Best time to visit

Nesseby is a fine place for bird watching the whole year, but especially from May to September. The area is very important as a resting and feeding site, and also as a
breeding locality. Its position makes it favourable for watching bird migration.

Habitat and observation species

The vegetation is varied, with damp birch and willow scrub, hayfields, heather and bogs. The extensive mudflats and the varied coastline make the area ideal for waders. Out on the headland and around the church there are bare rocks and small sandy beaches, and in places much seaweed washed ashore. Along the fjord below road E75 there is more vegetation and a couple of fertile stream outflows. The varied coastline means that most waders thrive here. Especially Bar-tailed Godwit, Red Knot, Dunlin and Ringed Plover can be seen in flocks of hundreds during migration. Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Turnstone may be seen in smaller flocks.

Ducks, geese and gulls often gather in large flocks in the shallow water areas and at the stream outflows. Several species of birds of prey use this area as a hunting ground. The White-tailed Eagle is common here, and there are good possibilities of seeing the rare Gyr Falcon. One can often see the Short-eared Owl hunting over the hayfields.

Nesseby is one of the most exciting places in Finnmark for seabird watching. With an easterly wind the seabirds are pressed far into the Varanger fjord. When they reach the innermost parts, they must work their way out again against the wind. They then often make some circuits round the fjord off Nesseby. Outermost on the headland beyond the church one can sit on natural benches in the lee of the wind. Here the birds often pass at very close range. Gulls, Fulmars and auks as well as Gannets, skuas and divers can pass in large numbers.

The Leach’s Storm Petrel is also not uncommon to see during such conditions. The species may almost be called a speciality for the area as it is very rarely seen from other parts of Norway’s mainland. Here one can also see such unusual species as Manx Shearwater, Little Gull and Sabine’s Gull, as well as other rarer species. An example is a Softplumaged Petrel which was well documented in 2009. This was the first occurrence in Europe. With different wind conditions there are fewer seabirds to see, but in a period following strong wind from the east, there will often be some seabirds remaining in the fjord. Many birds use the fjord for foraging and resting, so it is worthwhile spending time here regardless of weather and wind. There is a small pool out on the headland where one often finds Red-necked Phalaropes and Temminck’s Stints. This also attracts many passerines and ducks.

The area on the lower side of road E75 is fine for passerines. The damp area of bogs and woodland is a good habitat for many species. Among these Bluethroat, Sedge Warbler and Red-throated Pipit breed. Ringing projects have proved that this is an area that attracts many birds during migration in late summer. One has especially good possibilities of finding Lapland Bunting, Arctic Redpoll and Yellow Wagtail in this period.

The harbour in Nesseby is a good place for finding Steller’s Eider. This has become less common in summer during recent years, but from December until mid-May there are often small flocks here. From the harbour area there is also a fine view over the fjord. Here it can be worthwhile to sit in the car and watch out for seabirds if you do not want to go out onto the headland. Immediately on the east side of the built-up area, Bergeby river runs out and forms a fine delta. Here there is a large parking place where one has a good view. Gulls make good use of this area. It is also fine for duck species and “tringa-waders”. 


The Nesseby area is easily surveyed and easy to find along road E75, 12 km from Varangerbotn. When you reach the built-up area, turn down to the church. Here there is a large parking place. It is also possible to stop along E75 in order to get an overview of the western part of the reserve.

Other information

In the nature reserve, hunting, loose dogs and open firesare forbidden the whole year.





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