Helgeland is blessed with vast wilderness areas and many types of landscapes, which provide highly varied ecosystems that attract many different bird species. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel far between the wonderful opportunities for birdwatching. The birds you see may include the puffin, cormorant, sea eagle, terns, eider duck and barnacle goose, the Northern gannet and eagle-owl, the hawk-owl, peregrine falcon and Northern goshawk – and many other species.
You don’t have to make a special effort. On your travels through Helgeland, you are likely to see many of these bird species. The cormorant often stands on an offshore rock, drying its wings after diving for fish. You might hear noisy flocks of oystercatchers flying in formation, before seeing the Arctic tern take a flying plunge into the water and emerge with a catch of small fish. Then eider duck families may glide past you on the water like a large armada. In Helgeland, this is all just part of the natural scenery.
But for avid birdwatchers who yearn for exotic adventures, there are ways to get closer to some of the most exciting birds.
Puffin colonies – and “Puffin Day”
The island of Lovund hosts a huge puffin colony, which can count up to 300,000 birds! They nest on rocky slopes, and throughout the summer you will see the adult birds working hard, returning with fish caught at sea to feed their young. The puffin has an almost clown-like appearance and is sometimes called a “sea parrot”, due to its colourful beak, which is especially bright during the breeding season. They are excellent divers, catching fish underwater, which they bring back to their hungry chicks.
Avian enthusiasts should mark 14 April on their calendars, because it is a very special day. That’s the day the puffins arrive from afar in large numbers – and it’s an unforgettable sight! Lovund Hotel has a special event for guests that day, celebrating the arrival of the puffin. If you miss that, don’t worry; the puffin nest on Lovund from April to August.
Sea eagle safari – a close encounter with our largest bird of prey!
The sea-eagle is a striking contrast to the puffin. Some people find the puffin comical, but the white-tailed sea eagle is majestic and exudes an aura of strength. You will notice its supreme self-confidence if given the chance to see this mighty bird of prey up close. And the best opportunity to experience that is to take the sea eagle safari offered by Visit Nesna.
The Helgeland coast has a large population of sea eagles, and the impressive birds can be seen here year round. Visit Nesna offers safaris daily during the summer, and by request the rest of the year. Naturally the excursions depend on weather conditions, especially during the winter.
The amazing avian diversity of Vega and Støtt
The island of Vega, its surrounding archipelago, and the islands around the Støtt Old Trading Post are especially rich bird areas.
In the far north of Helgeland, on Støtt and the nearby islands, you can observe up to 200 different bird species. These include exciting seabirds such as the Northern gannet, the Arctic fulmar, two types of storm petrel, and birds of prey such as the rough-legged hawk and the sea eagle. The amazingly varied birdlife in the area reflects the landscape variations. As a result, you can observe seabirds, birds that favour the high mountains, birds that thrive near farmland, forest birds and shorebirds within the same area.
On the island of Vega, in the far south of Helgeland, over 230 bird species have been observed, of which around 110 are known to nest on the island. Vega has especially large populations of sea eagles, cormorant, eider duck, king eider, wigeon, tufted duck, and other ducks, to name just a few.