Skogsøy is probably the best
place to seawatch in Hordaland. In 2006 I did what many seawatchers
dream of doing and went out there every single day for three months to
cover the spring migration. See link below for further details.
are one of the staple birds at Skogsøy and can be seen there all
The welcoming committee - Ravens often keep seawatchers company at
Here an adult with a recently fledged youngster, July 2017
Rock Pipit breed out at the lookout point and can be seen there all
Here an adult collecting bugs for its young, July 2017
on the picture to go to the species accounts
on the Great Northern Diver to go to downloads page
is situated a little under
Bergen on the west coast of Norway, after parking the car the walk to
the lookout point takes approximately three quarters of an hour
(although if one is fit and doesn't bird en
then half an hour is quite possible). The walk out can be very wet
underfoot, and the rocks can be slippy so good waterproof footwear is
A visit to Skogsøy is often combined with a look at the
a locality which is better suited to passerines than Skogsøy
itself. These two localities compliment each other and can make for an
excellent days birding.
Kollsnes gas processing plant viewed from the path en route
Along with the rest of Øygarden, Skogsøy is
underwatched and for the majority of the time one has the place to
oneself - and when it comes to seawatching this is not always an
advantage. Attempting to cover the passage at all ranges and altitudes
inevitably means that some birds are missed - espeically on days when a
variety of species are passing, some very close, others further out,
some overhead and yet others behind the observation point.
morning view from the "car park"
of look out point from the south
view of Skogsøy seawatching site. Picture from taken from Google Earth.
One must use the
rocks as shelter
as there is no seawatching hide -
there is somewhere to sit for almost any wind direction; a seat of some
sort is highly recommended - the extra weight is well worth the effort
during a protracted seawatch. As with any seawatching site wind-chill
is almost always a problem; sitting still for hours on end, especially
during high winds with rain can become pretty uncomfortable. Tactics to
deal with this is to take plenty of extra layers and either a sleeping
bag or a "bivvy" bag (or "fjellduk" in Norwegian) in order to keep the
heat in. Click here
more cold weather seawatching tips.
Some of the more
have led to mild hypothermia and on
one notable occasion the results really were worth it. On New Years day
2003 a seawatch during strong south westerly winds and driving snow
produced Gyr Falcon, Glaucous Gull and Little Auks during breaks in the
snowfall. Bonus birds seen on the way out that day included Two-barred
Crossbills and Eagle Owl. No excuses for staying at home -
whatever the weather!
Auks / alkekonge - a regular
feature of seawatches between late
October and March
there are often long spells of sunny weather and sun block is essential
- one can be sunburnt without noticing it - especially during a cooling
northerly breeze. Seawatchers often develop a one sided tan under such
Pleasant summer weather can bring its own problems - during calm
conditions hordes of tiny midges hatch from the many small pools and
swarm onto hapless birders make it impossible to see and unpleasant
even to breath. One
could argue that seawatching during such nice weather is a waste of
time but wader passage can be good under such condtions and the "real"
migration of Great Skua often seems to take place on such days. Smoking
helps to reduce the numbers but the idea of chain-smoking for a period
of several hours does not appeal to everyone. Burning a fire with
plenty of greenery is also quite effective, however, the tears produced
by the stinging smoke prevent bird detection. So the best thing is to
use a coat that can really lock you in, including a hood, put some
gloves on and hunch down over the 'scope; sometimes ignoring them
really does seem to make them go away.
Picture of the
place most seawatching is done, March 2009
a number of species Skogsøy is much better than many, if
most, bird observatories at comparable latitudes. Numbers
of migrating divers,
species of skua and many species of wilfowl pass
in markedly better numbers than at both Utsira and Fair Isle.
It is one of the best sites for watching Spring migrating
in Europe. Double
figure counts are not unusual
during the peak season in early to mid May. There are plenty of other
birds to see too - a significant proportion
Red-throated Diver population also passes during April and May. Counts
of over 600 in a single day have occurred more than once! Great, Arctic
Skuas are regular and a wide variety of waders and wildfowl pass.
Summer produces shearwaters and skuas under the right conditions,
returning waders start passing from the end of June onwards.
Fulmar / havhest - a regular sight at Skogsøy
(click on picture for more images)
Northern Gannet / havsule
(Click on picture for more images)
anything can turn up in the autumn, although seawatching tends
to be more "hit and miss". During strong onshore winds and storms Sooty
Shearwaters are reasonably regular, along with a selection of other
seabirds. During light winds and calm weather visible migration of
southbound land and seabirds can be observed. In other words - there is
almost always something to see.
Winter is the best time to see number of seaduck on the sea,
Great Northern Diver are regular visitors and Little Auk can be seen
most days. Glaucous and Iceland Gulls and even Gyr Falcon have also
is more to
Skogsøy than just seawatching for passing birds, the
the speciality species in Øygarden can be seen here. The
the north and south of the seawatching lookout are well worth checking
out for seaduck and waders.
In December 2011 the first Lesser
for the county of
Hordaland (and the first female for Norway) was found on the lagoons to
the south of the lookout. Skogsøy is right next to
Herdlevær, one of the prime rarity localities in