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Species and status list Artsoversikt på norsk
Migrant dates Trekkfugl ankomstdatoer
Visible Migration
Detailed Species accounts

Gullfjellet is the highest mountain in Bergen kommune, Hordaland, Norway; the summit is some 987 m.o.s.l. In addition to a variety of mountain birds visible migration can be observed, especially during the autumn. During the weekends or periods with nice weather the place can get crowded so an early start is to be recommended.

Gullfjell is ideal for winter sports such as cross-country skiing, snowboarding and ice climbing and in the summer the lake by the car park is a popular place to swim. In season hunting is popular with Rock Ptarmigan, Black Grouse and Hare the target species.

View of summit from Svartevatn

It is an ideal location to pick up a number of special alpine species very close to the city of Bergen; in addition to the birds the walking and scenery is breathtaking. The weather can be far from pleasant at times - Gullfjell is one of the wettest places in Norway with 3155mm of rain a year! During the winter skis can be a great help in getting around, although snow cover is very variable below 600m. I use cross country skis - "fjellski", although at my standard of skiing taking my telescope with me is not an option yet....

Gullfjell was my local patch for around six years. Although not noted for its ability to attract rarities a number of excellent species have been recorded here - Hawk Owl, Pine Grosbeak, Gyr Falcon and Great Grey Shrike to name some of them. One has to work very hard to find the birds at times, especially in winter. It is a case of quality rather than quantity here - and at least if one is out in the the field there is always the chance that something will turn up.

White-throated Dipper - Fossekall - Cinclus cinclus
Dipper on a wet and grey day on Gullfjell, 25 April 2007

The speciality birds on Gullfjell are Rock Ptarmigan, Rough-legged Buzzard, White-throated Dipper, Ring Ousel, Common Raven and Snow Bunting. In spring Dotterel are a regular visitor - occasionally hanging on to breed when there is a lot of snow on their usual breeding grounds.

Male Dotterel, Gullfjllet, near Bergen, Norway
Male Dotterel, Gullfjellet, July 2015

Ptarmigan / Fjellrype, June 2006. Photo: Terje Hansen

Ptarmigan pair
Ptarmigan pair, Gullfjell, April 2015

It is also one of the best places to connect with Golden Eagle in the Bergen area - although this tends to be largely in winter. Waxwing are another reasonably regular winter visitor.

In addtion to these species Black Grouse are a common breeder on the lower slopes and can, with a little effort, be seen all year round. Dotterel is a regular visitor in mid May, although if the snow melt is early they tend not to show.

Dotterel Golden Plover
Dotterel /boltit on Austrerinden in thick fog, 17 May 2005
Taken using binoculars as telephoto lens - "digibinning"
Golden Plover / Heilo on Austrerinden in thick fog, May 2005. Taken using binoculars as telephoto lens - "digibinning"

Other common breeding birds include Northern Wheatear, Whinchat, Common Sandpiper and Meadow Pipit. Tree Pipit breed in small numbers most years.

Female Whinchat Common Sandpiper
Female Whinchat / Buskskvett, Gullfjell, June 2003 Common Sandpiper / Strandsnipe, June 2006

There are countless different walks in this area in a variety of terrain, even on busy days when the main path up to the "Redningshytta" is busy there are plenty of other trails to choose once one is familiar with the area. My usual winter walk is immediately to the left of the parking lot - "Ormarinden", I trudge up there and thrash through the juniper bushes on the slopes, going down towards the woods around "Svartevatnet". Spring through to autumn I tend to go up to "Redningsytta" and then further, usually over Austrerinden and back down towards the car park - a three hour trip allowing for a few birding stops.

Rough-legged Buzzard
Rough-legged Buzzard fjellvåk, one of the characteristic species on Gullfjell, 12 May 2007

Typical view of Rough-legged Buzzard
Typical view of Rough-legged Buzzard soaring over the hillsides, May 2007

Visible migration can be very impressive at times, with thousands of thrushes and finches on good days in the autumn. I tend to watch from just above "Redningshytten" where it seems birds are either funnelled or follow the north - south orientation of the valley. Ring Ousel can pass in high numbers - the record flock numbering over 40 individuals! I have even experienced this species, along with other thrushes landing on my boots, head and scope at times. A variety of broad front diurnal species pass here. Sometimes many thousand Redwing and Fieldfare are grounded and the slopes are full of thrushes feeding in the juniper bushes. See the visible migration pages for more details.

One tip for winter birding during spells of cold and sunny weather is to use sunglasses - hours of tramping through the snow in bright sunlight can induce snow blindness, most unpleasant as I found out to my cost.

Location of Gullfjell
Location of Gullfjell relative to Bergen (almost due east). Picture from Google Earth

Winter trees
Hawk Owl, Great Grey Shrike and Pine Grosbeak have been seen in these trees!

The new dam at Svartevatnet, April 2015
The new dam at Svartevatnet, April 2015

Svartevatnet, April 2015
Svartevatnet, April 2015 - still largely frozen

Male Ring Ousel
Male Ring Ousel

Gullfjell "Golden Eagle" valley
View towards Austrerinden, Gullfjell, June 2003 View of "Black Grouse" valley on Gullfjell, February 2006

Links to Gullfjell
Hiking & Skiing in Gullfjell
Nedbør / rainfall in Gullfjell
Gullfjellets venner Gullfjellets venner (facebook group)

Redningshytten, Gullfjell

Views of Redningshytten, Gullfjell

Redningshytten, Gullfjell

Avalanche during spring snowmelt - taken from Redningshytten

Kurlatjern, Gullfjell, April 2015
Kurlatjern, April 2018

Traces of rodents, Gullfjell, April 2020
Traces of rodents, Gullfjell, April 2018
Always fascinating to see where the rodents have been busy under the snow - and with so many of the upland birds dependent on how good a rodent year it is this is a great sight to see in the spring....

2.1156221171121E+232visits to this side since September 17, 2005.
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