Birding Varanger


These are among the most important bird localities in Varanger. Here one finds large breeding populations of waders, divers, passerines, dabbling ducks and seabirds. Along the coast large numbers of waders, gulls and diving ducks gather. Birds of prey hunt regularly in these areas. Here there are long sandy beaches with several outflows of rivers and streams. Extensive bogs stretch far in over the moors. A wide harbour surrounds the outflow of the river Storelv. On the west side of the breakwater lie Sandbukta and Smelror. Around Smelror there is some agriculture and scattered habitation. The extensive bogs along the coast, the cultivated areas and the nutrient-rich coast, together create a great species diversity. These areas are easily accessible and surveyable from the road. Use some time here, look out over the bogs and walk along the beaches and tracks.

Best time to visit

The coast can be exciting throughout the year, but the period May to August is especially fine.

Habitat and observation species

The extensive bogs have many small lakes and pools. There is great variation in the water content of the bogs, and this creates many different habitats which suit many species. There is a particularly dense population of breeding Red-throated Diver, Arctic Skua and Red-necked Phalarope. Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Golden Plover and Common Snipe also breed here.

This is also true of the Ruff, and from late May to mid-June one can experience the breeding display of the Ruffs. This is also a good area for nesting ducks such as Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Pintail, Wigeon and Teal. The bogs are also much used by Bean Geese and Whooper Swans. Nearer the coast, the terrain is drier and there is
more vegetation in the form of willow scrub. here there are good numbers of Red-throated Pipit, Lapland Longspur, Bluethroat and Ringed Plover. In the driest areas one finds Shorelark and the locally scarce Skylark.

The coastal fields and sand dunes dominate down near the shore, and in this area several pairs of Temminck`s Stint nest. Many wader species use the shore during migration. In addition to the species already mentioned, one can often see Spotted Redshank, Sanderling, Little Stint and Turnstone.

The harbour area is a good place to see Stellar`s Eider in the period January to May. Between the mainland and Vardø lies Bussesundet. This is a very nutrient-rich area, and from February until mid-April there gather thousands of King Eider, Common Eider and Longtailed Duck. In summer Smelror is a fine place to find
King Eider. Tjuvholmen near Smelror is a good nesting site for Black Guillemot, Cormorant and gulls. The gulls use the river outflows as a site to wash, and several thousand Kittiwakes and big gulls can gather. The Glaucous Gull may be seen throughout the year, and other rare species may also occur here, such as Ross`s Gull of which there are at least two observations! The White-tailed Eagle is commonly seen along the coast, while the Rough-legged Buzzard is often seen over the bogs and moors. One may also meet with Gyr Falcon, Peregrine and Merlin.

On rare occasions a Snowy Owl may visit these fine areas. The Short-eared Owl can often be seen hunting from evening until early morning. The fields around Smelror and the airfield are good places to see this attractive species. From the observation hide placed up on the height overlooking the bogs, there are fine possibilities of bird watching. Spend some time looking over the bogs with a telescope. On the opposite side of the road out towards Blodskyttsodden there is a more barren mountain landscape. Here the Snow Bunting nests on the highest peaks.


Turn off from road E75 immediately before the undersea tunnel to Vardø and onto road 341 towards Hamningberg. The road follows the coast, and it i worthwhile stopping at the bridge over Storelva. One should drive out to the western breakwater, around the gravel roads on the inner side of the road, and then down to Smelror. The road is closed in winter at Smelror, but usually opens in early May. Further information In large parts of Barvikmyra and Blodskyttsodden entry is forbidden in the breeding season from 15th May until 31st July. Use of firearms and release of dogs is forbidden throughout the nature reserve from 15th May until 30th September. Show extra respect for the wildlife also outside the boundaries of the nature reserve.





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