Hernar is an island at the northern end of Øygarden and is
only reachable by boat. A regular boat service operates from
Hellesøy to Hernar and other islands in the group. The
island is Øygardens answer to Fair Isle or Utsira and has
only recently started to receive attention from birders. There is
little coverage even during peak migration times - the island is
visited less than once a week for the vast majority of the time. Based
on my own oberservations and reports from some of the residents there
must be a vast amount of stuff that gets missed.
In May 2011 Hernar showed its potential and was in the limelight for a
few days as it hosted the first documented Crag Martin for Norway. The
normally quiet island was then invaded by twitchers for the first
If there were to be any regular ringing in Øygarden this
would be the place I would hope nets could be set up....
Hernar is probably THE best place in Øygarden for migrant
passerines and rarities. Statistically it produces more good birds per
visit than anywhere else. This is probably due to a number of reasons -
Hernar is an island, there is relatively little disturbance and there
are some good habitats. Another reason is probably that once on the
island one is stuck there until the boat goes - meaning that once can
really cover the available habitat well.
that really put Hernar on the map - Norway's first Crag
/Klippesvale, 06 May 2011
Østsanger, Hernar, 26 August 2009
turn up in varying numbers each autumn
The number of
seen in a day spent birding on the island is usually around 40, almost
irrespective of the time of year.
Although rarities and
migrants are the main reason to visit Hernar the island has other birds
too. White-tailed Eagle and most of the other species seen in
Øygarden can also be seen here. It is by far the best place
for Twite which breed in good numbers and large flocks build up during
Regular migrants include Water Rail (present for the majority of the
autumn between at least September to November) and Grey-headed
Woodpecker (largely in October).
Hernar, October 2009
of Hernar showing most of the habitated area
The best garden on the island.....
Summer fields, June 2020
the winter months
species such as Woodcock, Snipe and thrushes can be found here as they
try and move away from harsher conditions further inland. Autumn and
winter is also the best time to see Black Grouse on the island.
In the spring species such as Icterine Warbler can turn up.
Warbler / hauksanger, Hernar, 02 October 2009
Rosefinch / Rosenfink, Hernar, 16 September 2009
Shrike / Tornskate, Hernar, 03 September 2009
Great Grey Shrike / Varsler, October 2008
Express arrives at Hernar on a blustery October day - since replaced
with "Tornerose" and will soon change again....
(Click on picture for boat timetable)
boat to the island leaves from Hellesøy which is a birding
destination in its own right - well worth checking if there is enough
time and/or light available. In April 2009 whilst standing on the deck
of the Fjord Express waiting for it to depart this Great Egret came
flying over....I have since been informed that this superb bird was
seen on Hernar by some of the residents on a number of occasions.
The commonest species of
warbler in the autumn tend to be Blackcap and
Chiff-chaff, with smaller numbers of Lesser Whitethroat and Garden
Warblers being seen. Often these species can be seen out of context
foraging on the ground rather than in bushes and trees which are in
short supply on the island.
Warbler, Hernar, October 2008
are a common resident
Eagle are a very common sight at Hernar
are often seen here, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine and White-tailed Eagle are
the most common. Goshawk, Kestrel and Merlin are all regular visitors
Twite / bergirisk
common breeder and passage migrant on the ilsand
Snipe/kvartbekkasin are regular in small numbers on Hernar
heath and boggy areas on the eastern side of the island often hold few
birds, but if
there is time are still worth checking as something is usually seen in
view from Hernar, November 2009
For more views of Øygarden click here
garden on Hernar
Migrant Wryneck, Hernar, September 2019
Hernar, October 2009
Tit / Blåmeis foraging on the heaths on the east of the
island, October 2008
a possibility in October
regular in the autumn
A selection of the
rarities seen at Hernar is given below:
(Needs something of an update now!!)