Vast knowledge of the birds and sites in Varanger
Varanger Peninsula in Northern Norway is a sanctuary for arctic birds. It is a versatile photography destination all year round. We at Finnature have a vast knowledge of the birds and sites in Varanger. In fact, we have visited here for birdwatching and photography tours already for over 20 years! Best times for bird photography in Northern Norway are the early spring in February-April and the breeding season in May-June-July.
Handsome King Eiders and Steller’s Eiders, Common Eiders and Long-tailed Ducks overwinter in the sheltered harbors of Varanger Peninsula. Of these, King Eiders and Steller’s Eiders do not breed in the area. Rather, they move east to Russian tundra for breeding in spring. Winter months from February to April, when these birds are overwintering in the coasts of Varanger Peninsula, are the best time to photograph them.
Our local partner has set up superb floating photography hides in one of the sheltered fjords in Varanger. This place is a must for any keen bird photographer! Eiders and Long-tailed Ducks come at close range and offer lots of action and subtle colors for photography.
Highlands of Varanger Peninsula is a harsh environment for any wildlife. Indeed, endless winds and exposure to elements means a need for special adaptations for any inhabitants. Yet, the barren tundra is full of birds!
Bluethroat, Arctic Redpoll and Willow Grouse occupy the river valleys while Lapland Bunting, Red-throated Pipit, Shore Lark and Long-tailed Skua are found on the hillsides. The landscape is vast and wide. The most adapted are the Rock Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting and Dotterel which choose to stay on the barren hilltops. Elsewhere, the roadside lakes provide excellent photography with Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Red-necked Phalarope, Greater Scaup and Long-tailed Ducks. Temminck’s Stint shows off its butterfly display flight along the roads.
The arctic is a truly amazing photography destination!
Puffins and other Arctic Seabirds
The Atlantic Puffin is a most strange bird – its appearance among birds is unique! This small stocky auk has a colorful beak and a dapper black-and-white style that can charm any photographer.
Hornøya island off Varanger Peninsula is the most accessible seabird colony in Norway. Common Guillemot is a numerous breeder here, with prominent numbers of Puffins, Brünnich’s Guillemots, Razorbills, European Shags and Black-legged Kittiwakes nesting as well. Gyr Falcons and White-tailed Eagles patrol over the island regularly, causing panic among the masses of alcids. Days are never the same at Hornøya!
Seabirds return from their wintering areas to Hornøya after mid-March. This is an excellent time for photography with lots of action. The desired target is Puffin fights on snow. Birds stay on the island until late July when the chicks leave the nesting cliffs. The island turns silent as the birds move out to the sea.
Varanger Peninsula provides a long and variable season for any photographer. Check for inspiring photos about photo opportunities at our Flickr gallery for wintery Varanger.