visit Varanger, birding Varanger, varanger Birding,

birds at Vestre Jakobselv

Vestre Jakobselv is finely situated along the north side of the Varanger fjord.
This small township surrounds the outflow of the river Jakobselv. Here
there is an extensive delta of brackish water which provides good conditions
for waders, ducks, gulls and terns. The birch forest is fine for those looking
for passerines. From the coastline one has a good view of seabirds on their
way into or out of the fjord. 

Jakobselv is a well known salmon river which attracts
many anglers. It is also a popular place for bird
watchers. The combination of species in this area is
quite unique. Here one finds typical forest birds only a
short distance from seabird species. 

Best time to visit

The coastline can be interesting throughout the year, but
the river outflow and the forested areas are most exciting
in the period from April to September. In common with
most other localities in Finnmark, the period from May
to July is particularly good. The lower part of the river is
an important breeding and resting site.

Habitat and observation species

The lower part of the river is shallow and wide, and
forms a nutritious delta of brackish water. This is a
fine nesting site for Arctic Terns. The population varies
greatly from year to year, but in good years more than a
hundred pairs can breed. This is also a potential nesting
site for Little Gulls.
The shore grasslands and the small islands and banks
in the river are fine resting and breeding sites for waders.
Common Redshank and Curlew nest here most years.
The Ruff may often be seen on the banks in the upper
part of the delta, where the river swings northwards.
The delta attracts large numbers of gulls that rest and wash themselves in the fresh water. Numbers of ducks
and raptors are also attracted to the area.
The birch forest extends inwards into the valley and
westwards towards Varangerbotn. The continuous forest
ends shortly east of Vestre Jakobselv. On the way out
from the fjord this is the last site where one can find
the typical forest species. This is a well known area for
the Hawk Owl. This owl is diurnal, and often sits at the
top of the trees. The Three-toed Woodpecker also nests
here, but is often difficult to find. This is also true of the
Siberian Tit, but this can often be seen at feeding sites,
as also the Arctic Redpoll, which is relatively common
in these areas. Here one may also find species which
are relatively uncommon such as Wood Warbler and
Garden Warbler. At the mouth of the river there is a small harbour,
and a beach extends westwards. Here it is worthwhile
looking for gulls and waders, especially at the western
end, where a small stream runs out. The Purple Sandpiper
is common here in winter. In order to gain the best view
of the sea one can go out onto Finneset which lies on
the east side of the river mouth. Here it can be profitable
to look for seabirds, especially when the wind is from
the east. Immediately east of Vestre Jakobselv there
are several fields, where one can find resting geese and
cranes. Further east there are agricultural areas along the
north side of the road (Kariel). In spring one may often
see foraging geese such as Grey-lag, Bean and Greater
The mountainous areas inland from Vestre Jakobselv
are exciting. Here lies Varangerhalvøya National Park
which covers the greater part of the Varanger Peninsula.
About ten kilometres north-west of Vestre Jakobselv lie
extensive wetlands. Here there are good populations
of, for example, Long-tailed Skua, Bar-tailed Godwit,
Red-necked Phalarope, Red-throated Pipit and Lapland
Longspur. In these mountain areas one can expect to see
most of the mountain species. 


Vestre Jakobselv is situated between Varangerbotn
and Vadsø. From Varangerbotn follow the road E75 eastwards along the fjord. After 32 km one arrives at
Vestre Jakobselv. Within the built-up area one can drive
up either side of the river in order to get a view over the
delta.  In the summer one can drive 5-6 km into the valley.
To reach the national park one must continue to walk
7-8 km from the end of the western road. Remember
to take with you necessary equipment such as map and
compass/GPS etc.

Further information

The lower part of the river and the delta area are
important breeding and staging sites for birds. The
birds are often scared away by anglers who walk along
the river bank. One should study the birds from a good
distance in order to avoid further disturbance.
 In Vestre Jakobselv there is a food store and overnight
accommodation. About 2 km up the west site of the
valley a bird park has been formed. Here one can pay
to see and photograph several of the above-mentioned
forest species.