Birdwatching in Øygarden

For people in Bergen, the distance to good birding localities is very short. One example is Øygarden, a very exciting island group north-west of Bergen. Both the location and the landscape are reasons why this area perfect for birdwatching.

The islands are lined up in a row, creating a good directing line for the migrating birds. For the most part, the landscape is made up of coastal rock slopes, hillocks, heathland, coniferous forest, and some wetland. The area constantly attracts rarities. Naturally, these may be found at the traditional viewpoints but also by being attentive to movements in the grazing lands, bushes, trees, gardens, and plantations. The activity is more noticeable, of course, during migration periods, but birdlife is rich all year round. In the winter, for example, you could find ducks, grebes, Common Loons, Purple Sandpipers, Peregrine Falcons, and White-tailed Eagles in the area.

Further down on this page, you will find a short description on some of the birding localities in Øygarden.


Map over Hellesøyna and Seløyna

2Hjelme, west
3Hjelme, east

Hellesøy, officially named Hellesøyna, is the outermost of the Øygarden islands with mainland connection. Here, you can enjoy the beautiful nature environment and the rich birdlife. Some examples of rare birds that have been seen here are Yellow-billed Loon, Pomarine Skua, Glaucous Gull, Dusky Warbler, Carrion Crow, Rosy Starling, White-winged Crossbill, and Little Bunting.
From Hellesøy, an option is to take a ferry to Herna, a small island rarity hotspot without mainland connection.

Map over Nautnes and Tjeldstø

3Bird hide, Tjeldstø nature reserve
4Bus shelter at Husvatnet

Tjeldstø in Alvøyna contains a frequently visited wetland area, whereas you will find the only two bird hides in Øygarden—one of them is, believe it or not, a bus shelter.

Heathland, small waters, and moors dominate this landscape, giving grounds for a rich birdlife all year round. Some of the most common breeding species are Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Eurasian Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Eurasian Curlew, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Redshank, Common Snipe, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, and Arctic Tern. In the migration periods, you will find a variety of ducks and waders here, among other birds, and in the winter, Tjeldstø is one of Hordaland province’s most important places for Whooper Swans. And as long as the water is open, many ducks and geese can be seen in the winter as well.

Tjeldstø has been visited by some rare guests. Some examples are Tundra Swan, Bar-headed Goose, Green-winged Teal, Great Egret, Corn Crake, Spotted Crake, Pectoral Sandpiper, Little Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Australasian Pipit, American Pipit, Citrine Wagtail, Barred Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Lesser Grey Shrike, Carrion Crow, White-winged Crossbill, and Pine Grosbeak.

Map over Herdlevær, Skogsøyna, and Ona


Herdlevær is located just north of Skogsøy. What makes Herdlevær interesting is the potential of migrating mega rarities. The bushes, trees, pastures, and garden plants attract an exciting mix of passerines, particularly in the autumn. This potential can tempt you to forget private property regulations, but remember to show consideration for the few residents in this island.

Black-browed Albatross, Little Gull, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, European Turtle Dove, Australasian Pipit, Olive-backed Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Citrine Wagtail, Siberian Accentor, Black Redstart, Siberian Stonechat, Savi’s Warbler, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Barred Warbler, Greenish Warbler, Pallas’s Leaf Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher, Red-tailed Shrike, Carrion Crow, Rosy Starling, Hoary Redpoll, White-winged Crossbill, Little Bunting, and Black-headed Bunting are some of the species that have showed up one or more times.

In Skogsøy, you will find many of the same breeding species as in the other islands in Øygarden, for example Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, White Wagtail, Dunnock, Eurasian Wren, European Robin, Eurasian Blackbird, Redwing, Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Common Raven, Lesser Redpoll, and Eurasian Linnet. Additionally, Skogsøy points outwards from the coastline and is a perfect place for seabird watching. With onshore wind and wet and windy weather, this place can offer a really memorable experience when it comes to Northern Gannets, loons, auks, petrels, shearwaters, skuas, jaegers, and other exciting birds.
May and June are the best months to go seabird watching, but you could start the season earlier if you want. The conditions for seabird watching in the late summer or in the autumn are at times pretty good.
Many European Storm Petrels have been ringed in Skogsøy.

Ona, not to be mistaken for the island Ona outside of Molde, is a great place for birdwatchers to stop by. For example, it is perfectly located if you are heading out to Skogsøy and Herdlevær, and the potential of finding rarities is absolutely present. Rare species like Egyptian Goose, Red-footed Falcon, Iceland Gull, European Turtle Dove, Australasian Pipit, Red-throated Pipit, Black Redstart, Barred Warbler, Yellow-browed Warbler, Carrion Crow, White-winged Crossbill, Trumpeter Finch, and Little Bunting have all been seen here.

Helpful Information

Biotope:Coastal landscape with smooth, coastal rock slopes and some wetlands.
Best time to visit: All year but with greatest activity during migration periods.
Bird towers: Bird hide in Tjeldstø.
Terrain:Slightly hilly.
Local association: NOF Bergen lokallag.
Shoes: Water proof hiking shoes.
Food: Recommended.
Clothes: Wind proof hiking wear. Oftentimes a good idea to bring warm clothes and rainwear as well.
Binoculars: Essential.
Telescope: Recommended.



Did you know…

… that the period from the 10th through the 31st of May, 2015, a total of 142 Pomarine Skuas were registered migrating past Skogsøy?

… that the Yellow-billed Loon are seen several times every year in and around Øygarden—sometimes in two-digit numbers on the same day?

… that many hundred European Storm Petrels have been ringed in Skogsøy and Herdlevær?

Bird Species Seen in the Area

Some of the Birds in Øygarden

Key Map
Helpful Links
(also in english)