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Other animals in Øygarden


Marine mammals

The commonest sea mammals are Porpoises, these can be seen in good numbers both in the open sea and in the fjords; they are  especially obvious in calm weather. Other cetacea are less regular, Pilot Whales and Orcas are sometimes seen in Hjeltefjord amd occasionally at Skogsøy - both species seem less regular on the west side of the islands. Minke whale can be seen but this is a rare occurrence.

Grey Seals are resident in small numbers but keep themselves far from the mainland for the most part although they do occasionally come close to shore. Common Seal can also be seen but are much less numerous than the Grey Seals..

Porpoise, Skogsøy, May 2008
Porpoise is the commonest cetacean to be seen in Øygarden

Minke Whale
Orcas, April 2010
Minke Whale, Skogsøy, June 2010 Orcas / Spekkhoggere, Skogsøy, April 2010

Orcas are a regular enough sighting in Øygarden, although for my part they are usually distant views in a telescope off Skogsøy where they are commonest in the spring between February and April as they follow the Herring up the coast. Sometimes they come a lot closer in and can be seen in the fjord down the east side of Øygarden. On one such early morning in late May 2018 we found ourselves surrounded by pods of Orcas - an estimated 30 animals in total. It was so calm it was the sound of their breathing that helped us spot them, some of them were larger than the small boat we were in and they came past far too close for my 400mm telephoto lens. What an incredible experience and yet another reminder of why I live where I do!

Orca, Øygarden, May 2018

Orca, Øygarden, May 2018

Orca, Øygarden, May 2018

Orca, Øygarden, May 2018

Orca, Øygarden, May 2018

Orca, Øygarden, May 2018

Orca, Øygarden, May 2018

Orca, Øygarden, May 2018

Orca, Øygarden, May 2018

Orca, Øygarden, May 2018
Orca, Øygarden, May 2018
Parts of the Sture oil terminal are visible in the background here

This is the book I use when identifiying cetaceans and other marine mammals

Otter are very common and numbers seem to have increased since around 2007. As the Otter numbers have increased the amount of Mink in the area has decreased significantly. Otters can be seen all year round but I tend to see them most during the winter months - possibly more due to where I tend to go birding than anything else. However, they do tend to be more nocturnal during the summer months and one can see and hear them late at night. 

Otter with ribbon fish, Nautnes, November 2019

Above and below: Otter with Butterfish, Nautnes, November 2019
These images were taken in my garden!

Otter with ribbon fish, Nautnes, November 2019

Otter with freshly caught wrasse
Otter with freshly caught wrasse, Skogsøy, May 2007

Otters near Svellingen
(Above and below) Otters being harassed by Hooded Crows  near Svellingen, January 2008

Otter with wrasse

Otter diving, Herdlevær, Øygarden
Otter diving into the kelp, Herdlevær, Øygarden, June 2016

Common Seal
Common Seal, Øygarden, August 2010

Common Seal
Cropped from image above

Grey Seal, Herdlevær, March 2020
Grey Seal, Herdlevær, March 2020

Grey Seal, Herdlevær, March 2020
Grey Seal, Herdlevær, March 2020

Grey Seal, Herdlevær, March 2020
Grey Seal at Herdlevær, March 2020
This looks like a younger one or a female. Perhaps both:)

Grey Seal, Øygarden, July 2018
Grey Seal, Øygarden, July 2018
Grey Seal, Øygarden, July 2018
Grey Seal, Øygarden, July 2018

Atlantic Grey Seal
Grey Seal / havert, Øygarden, May 2009

Atlantic Grey Seal
Grey Seal with Cod, Alvheim, February 2008

Grey Seal, havert, Øygarden, June 2020
Female/juvenile Grey Seal (havert), Øygarden, June 2020
Small numbers of these animals are present all year round and most commonly seen from boats.
This guy did not seem to be too excited about sharing a rock with the first ever Mediterranean Gull for the area!

Land mammals

Red Deer are common in Øygarden and are most often seen around dawn and dusk, sometimes these animals swim over from the mainland - even to smaller islands such as Hernar (for example in May 2011). Rodents of several species seem to be quite common, lack of prey should not be the reason behind the abscence of breeding raptors  such as Kestrel.

Weasel, Solberg, May 2007
Weasel / snømus, Solberg, May 2007

Red Deer at dawn
Vole, May 2006
Deer / Hjort, Breivik, May 2006 Vole sp / markmus Microtus agrestis, a common rodent in Øygarden

Red Deer at dawn
Red Deer, May 2010

Common Shrew, March 2007
Toads are a common sight on summer nights... Shrew sp, liten spissmus Sorex minutus, Tjeldstø

Mink are numerous throughout Øygarden and are often seen swimming over channels and along the shorelines as they hunt fish and crabs. Otter are seen less frequently but there are several families in the area - often they are heard before they are seen - their piping contact call can sound rather bird-like. Unfortunately they are regularly found drowned in fishing gear; despite this the number of Otters seem to have been increasing since approximately 2007.

Mink hunting in the nature reserve at Tjeldstø
With the exception of human activity this is probably the biggest threat to many ground nesting birds in Øygarden
This one was hunting in the nature reserve at Tjeldstø, July 2020
I really should be equipped with something more deadly than a camera!
Otter, Febraury 2010 Mink, Nautnes, April 2014
Otter / Oter, Hjelme Vest, February 2010 Mink, Nautnes, April 2014

Mink swimming
Mink are often seen swimming in Øygarden

Mink or Otter skull?
Interesting skull found on the shore at Svellingen, January 2007

Most of the pictures on this page were taken with a DSLR fitted with a 400mm telephoto lens. Some have been taken using digiscoping techniques and others using a compact superzoom camera. For more about cameras and nature photography see the articles page.

Butterflies and moths
A variety of butterflies and moths have been recorded in Øygarden. More information about lepidoptera in Øygarden can be found on the following link:

Emperor Moth Caterpillar
Emperor Moth caterpillar

Painted Lady, Nautnes, September 2019

Painted Lady butterfly - this species is a migrant that periodically reaches Øygarden in large numbers

Link to Butterflies and moths of Øygarden

Many thanks to Alf Tore Mjøs for Norwegian and scientific names for some of these animals

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