The northernmost county in Norway, Finnmark, is a popular area for bird enthusiasts. Only the toughest and rugged birds are nesting and wintering there.
– Finnmark is a favored area for all bird lovers. Many birds you do not see farther south nest here, and people from all over the world come to see these unique birds, says Robert Barrett, professor at the Norwegian Arctic University in Tromsø to NRK.
Birds are very adaptable and has roots dating back to the dinosaurs.
Until 2002, 464 bird species has been observed in Norway. The diversity is greater in southern areas, but there are unique bird species on every continent, including in the Arctic and Antarctic.
– Birds can adapt to the most incredible conditions. In the Arctic, we have the toughest species. These are birds that go “south” to Finnmark to nest, says birdwatcher Tormod Amundsen, who has moved to the Varanger peninsula to work with bird watching.
Amundsen believe nearly 7000 birdwatchers are visiting Varanger each year – more than half the total population of the peninsula.
These are among the rarest birds:
It is among the rarest ducks in the world and are found only in the Arctic. Most nests on the Siberian tundra in the summer and winters in the Varanger Fjord. It is their “holiday in the sun”. Around four thousand Steller’s eiders arrive Finnmark each winter in dense flocks out at sea.
Between 70,000 and 100,000 King Eiders migrate to the northern Norwegian Riviera in the winter. Flocks have been seen as far south as Vesterålen. In the outer Varanger Fjord, one can see herds with over 10 000 birds. Like the Steller’s eiders, King Eider is one of the most spectacular species birdwatchers want to experience.
Snow bunting is the northernmost passerine bird in the world and is characterized by its black and white plumage. The species is common in Scandinavia, Greenland, Svalbard, North America and the Arctic parts of Russia. Snow buntings protect themselves against extreme weather by digging into the snow like grouse.
Thick-billed Murre, or Brünnich´s Guillemot, is an Arctic species that on mainland Norway only breed in very small numbers in a few colonies in Finnmark. A few years ago, it was placed on the Red List of threatened species. The mainland breeding population is less than 100 pairs, but the population of Jan Mayen, Bjørnøya and Spitsbergen is estimated at approximately 700,000 couples.
The Snowy Owl is very rare and relies primarily on lemmings and other small rodents for food during the breeding season. One of the greatest threats to the snowy owl is fauna crime. It has been close to extinction in Europe due to taxidermy. The largest populations are located in Siberia and Alaska.
Text modified by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews