birds at Neiden, Mikkelsnes and Mukefjord
This is the first good bird area one comes to on the way westwards from Kirkenes. The outflow of the river Neidenelva forms a wide delta of brackish water. At low water extensive mud flats are uncovered that stretch out over the fjord. Around Neiden there is much birch forest, and along the rivers Neidenelva and Munkelva there are luxuriant river banks. The species diversity is great, from passerines and waders to ducks and divers.
Best time to visit
From the mouth of Neidenelva and further out in the fjord there are interesting observation areas the whole year. These areas are important both as stopover sites and overwintering areas. Around Munkelva and Neiden the breeding birds are the most exciting. The period from mid June to mid July is recommended.
Habitat and observation species
Neiden is well known among bird watchers. It is first and foremost the Arctic Warbler that has made this place famous. The area around Neiden church is a regular locality for this eastern species. The Arctic Warbler is often found on the lower side of the church, where there is an old cart track that one can follow. It can also sit at several other spots in this area. The characteristic song is easy to hear even at long range, but note that the Wood Warbler may also sing here. Also around Munkefjorden there are good possibilities of hearing the Arctic Warbler. The Little Bunting is another scarce species that one can find here. It is well worth taking a walk up along the river or out towards the outflow. In the innermost of Munkefjorden some waders may also gather. The Dipper can also be found along both rivers. Other species to be found in the woods around Munkefjord and Neiden are Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Cuckoo, Woodcock and Waxwing. The delta area at Mikkelsnes is a particularly fine area for resting ducks and divers. Hundreds of Goosanders, Mergansers, Long-tailed Ducks, Common and Velvet Scoters and Common Eiders gather here before and after the breeding season. Black-throated Divers use the area a great deal, and more than a hundred can be seen at one time. May is a very fine time, when the birds wait until the ice has gone from their breeding grounds. Waders are attracted to the large expanses of mud. Bar-tailed Godwit, “tringa-waders”, and especially the Red Knot can appear in great numbers on spring migration. The White-tailed Eagle is often to be seen hunting in the area or resting on the sandbanks. This is also a good place for resting gulls and dabbling ducks. On the shore fields at Mikkelsnes many passerines rest during migration in May, June and August. Snow Buntings, Lapland Buntings and Red-throated Pipits are some of the species to be met with. Numbers of geese graze here in spring and late summer. Both subspecies of Bean Goose (rossicus and fabalis) can be observed. In winter Munkefjorden freezes, but from the mouth of Neidenelva and out in Neidenfjord there is always open water. Here thousands of Common Eiders gather, and there are also good possibilities of finding King Eider.
From road E6 one has a good view over the fjord and the delta area at the mouth of Neidenelva. It is worthwhile stopping at a large sand quarry by Sandneset. Here one sees right over to the delta area. The distance to the river mouth is almost too far, and if there are many birds to see, it is better to drive to Mikkelsnes. Just north of Neidenelva and the turning towards Finland, one turns off towards Neiden church and Mikkelsnes (road 352). After 1.6 km you see the side road to Neiden church on the left side. Mikkelsnes lies almost at the end of the The Arctic Warbler is a characteristic species for the Neiden area. The area around Neiden church is one of the best places to find it. road, and here there is a parking place. From here it is a fine walk out over the shore fields. Out on the headland one has a fine view over the delta area and in over Munkefjord. By driving some hundred metres further, to the end of the road, one sees out over Neidenfjorden.
Munkefjorden comprises the innermost part of Neidenfjorden. Together with the lower part of Neidenelva and Mikkelsnes, it forms Neiden and Munkefjord nature reserve. Show respect for other visitors when you move around in the cemetery at Neiden church. The time to hear the Arctic Warbler is from about 20 June and about three weeks on. In this period there are always many birders in the area. Disturbance of the breeding birds is a potential problem, so be careful with the use of playback bird song.