The team at Aurora Holidays is always on the look out for new and exciting activities we can add to our programme to make your stay in Utsjoki even more special.
This month we took a day trip to Hornøya, a small island in Northern Norway to check out if this is something we could offer to you as a day trip. Every summer approximately 80000 sea birds, like puffins, shags and seagulls come to Hornøya to breed.
The island is just a short, 10-minute boat ride from the town of Vardø in Northern Norway. The boat ride itself already offers plenty of opportunities to spot local marine wildlife, such as jellyfish, seals and sometimes even dolphins.
Birdwatching in Hornøya
Once you arrive at the island you can navigate the paths with plenty of time to observe the birds and take pictures. Unfortunately only one part of the island is currently accessible, which means that it is not possible to visit the lighthouse. Even with limited access the island offers plenty of spots for bird watching.
These are the sea birds that you are likely to see at Hornøya during the summer. Keep in mind that this is by no means a guarantee that all of these species will be there at your time of visit and of course it is possible that you spot birds that are not listed here:
The Atlantic Puffin is a seabird that spends the winter out on the open ocean and returns to the shore in late spring to breed. The Atlantic Puffin typically breeds on islands in the Northern Atlantic, rather than on the mainland to reduce the risk of predators.
The puffin’s diet consists of various types of fish and thanks to the uniquely shaped beak it can carry multiple fish at once. With a little luck you will be able to observe the Atlantic Puffin fish and feed the young ones.
The European Shag (or Common Shag) is part of the Cormorant family. The European Shag looks similar to the Great Cormorant, but it is smaller and slimmer in build and can rarely be found inland.
Hornøya has a quite a few breeding pairs nesting in various places across the island, so if you visit during summer you might not only get to see the adult birds, but the young ones too.
The Razorbill is a North Atlantic seabird with an estimated current population of less than 1,000,000 breeding pairs.
The Razorbill lives and breeds in colonies and chooses only one partner for life. The females lay one egg per year and both parents will take turns incubating the egg and later foraging for food.
While it is estimated that 60 – 70% of the total global population of Razorbills breeds in Iceland, you may be able to spot a few breeding pairs amongst other auks in Hornøya.
The common murre or common guillemot is a large auk, that like most of the other seabirds on Hornøya spends most of the year at sea. The common murre can be found in low-Arctic and boreal water of the North Atlantic and North Pacific Ocean.
They breed in large colonies on rocky cliffs like the ones on Hornøya. The common murre flies incredibly fast, shooting down from its breeding ground towards the sea. So watch out for the common murre during your visit as it might come shooting past your head.
A visit to the island is a fantastic day trip for nature lovers, bird watchers and wildlife photographers as you have the chance to observe puffins, as well as many bird and marine wildlife species.
If you’re interested in visiting Hornøya while you’re in Utsjoki, feel free to get in touch and we will arrange a visit for you! Hornøya can be visited also in the spring, which is also excellent time for birdwatching. Or you can join a birding trip to Varanger fjord in Norway and during the day you have a possibility to visit several birdwatching spots and when the luck is on our side, we can see sandpipers, eiders or even eagles!
Text & Photos by Maria Berz