Varanger, visit Varanger, fjelljo, bording varanger, varanger birding, birds of Varanger

lake Tørrvann - Guorroláttu

The area around the lake Tørrvann/Guorroláttu is an easily accessible high
mountain locality that one should visit after the snow has melted sometime
in June until August/September. This is normally a good area for seeing
Long-tailed Skua, Willow and Rock Ptarmigan, Dotterel, Lapland Longspur,
Temminck’s Stint, Red-throated Diver, Long-tailed Duck and Golden Plover. 

A small river runs into Tørrvann from the west.
Immediately before entering the lake, the river
forms a broad, slow-flowing area, a “luobbal”. Both the
luobbal and the lake are very shallow with an average
depth of less than two metres. Deepest are some small
depressions of 3-4 metres. These depressions are formed
by rotting plants that release gas from the benthic
sediments. Because of this, parts of the lake never
completely freeze. Even in cold winters there are small,
unfrozen circular holes in the ice.
At one time the river ran from Tørrvann down to
Austertana and to the sea there. Then, in the spawning
season, many large arctic char migrated up to the lake
and the river above. After spawning, the fish stayed
in Tørrvann until the spring flood. Now the river is
regulated via a canal over to the Kongsfjord watercourse.
Before being diverted there was a good stock of char in
the lake. Now the lake has too many small char, and the
level of the lake is no longer regulated. From Tørrvann
the river runs to Nástejáv’ri, Stjernevann, a couple of
kilometres further north.
Tørrvann consists of a western, rectangular part,
about 500 x 300 metres, and an eastern more triangular
part, about 300 x 300 metres. These parts are connected
by a shallow channel, but have some rather deeper
The banks of the lake consist mainly of dry heather
vegetation that consists of crowberry and cloudberry, with sparse growth of some willow species and sedge
in the water’s edge. In the water there are few plants,
but relatively good amounts of drab brook-moss. The
lake floor is largely mud with a cover of moss. There
are mainly gravel and stones at the inflow, the channel
in the lake and the outflow. Along the river into the
luobbal and the lake there is some low willow scrub and
boggy ground.
North of the eastern part of the lake, there is a larger
area of bogs with some open marshes, scrub and several
larger shallow pools. These pools are fishless, and the
drainage from them goes into the peat and to the lake. 

Habitat and observation species

The area is rather flat. Only a few places stick up above
the surrounding terrain. The east side of the lake is
best for observations. To reach here one must cross the
river, either before it runs into the luobbal, or between
Tørrvann and Stjernevann. By crossing the river before
it runs into the luobbal, one can experience the terrain
at the river inflow. There one can find wader species,
warblers, other passerine species and ptarmigan.
In order that the lake should not drain to Austertana,
an embankment has been built at the eastern end of the
lake. This can be a good site for observations. Here one
has a good view over parts of the lake, the upper part of
Julelvdalen and a low area of scrub on the east side. The
forest in Julelvdalen stretches almost to Tørrvann.
At the bogs and the pools east of the lake there are
good possibilities of observations, even though the area
is quite flat. The area between Tørrvann and Stjernevann
also has a good deal of scrub, some slow-flowing parts of
the river, as well as marshy areas.


The Ruff displays at several places in the area along
the watercourse, and it also nests sparsely in this area.
It often forages at the water’s edge around the whole
lake. The Golden Plover nests sparsely on the dry ridges
that surround the lake. The Dotterel is also a common
breeding species. The Redshank prefers to nest where the vegetation is lusher, with some scrub and scattered
trees. Red-necked Phalaropes nest at several places in the
area, and one often finds them foraging in the shallower
parts of the lake, and in the pools on the east side. Other
small waders may also be found in small numbers in the
area, and in some years the Temminck’s Stint nests here.


The Teal nests by the pools on the east side of the lake,
and in the pools towards Stjernevann. They remain at
these pools during the whole summer. The Wigeon
can nest in small numbers on the east side of the lake.
They also forage in the shallow areas where there is
rich vegetation. The Long-tailed Duck nests along the
lakeside, and feeds on snails and other small animal life
on the open water. The Merganser may nest along the
river to Stjernevann, and the Goosander uses this area
early in spring. They usually remain in the river until
the ice thaws in the lake. 


The Red-throated Diver nests at the shallow pools east
of the lake. They forage in the lake itself, or fly right out
to the sea.

Swans and geese

The Whooper Swan nests occasionally at the pools east
of the lake. The Bean Goose was once widely distributed
as a breeding bird in the inner parts of the Varanger
peninsula. Now it sometimes lands at Tørrvann to
forage during the spring migration.


The area around Tørrvann forms a border area for both
Rock Ptarmigan and Willow Ptarmigan. The Rock Ptarmigan breeds no lower, and the Willow Ptarmigan
no higher. 


The Horned Lark nests sparsely in this area, and may
arrive early at the dry ridges before the ice has thawed
on the lake. The Lapland Longspur and Reed Bunting
can nest in small numbers where the willow scrub is
most dense. The Snow Bunting arrives early to forage
on the dry ridges, and nests sparsely on the dry areas.
The Dipper nests at some sites along the whole of the
watercourse. In Juladalen the Brambling is distributed
up to the tree line, and the Chaffinch may also be found
here. The Redwing also nests all the way up to the limits
of tree and scrub, and the Willow Warbler may be found
right up to the highest tree clumps. Ravens and Crows
also use the area, but these do not find suitable breeding
sites in the immediate neighbourhood. 


A few pairs of Common Gulls nest around the lake.
The Arctic Tern nests in decreasing numbers in the
area, and they forage both in the lake and along the
whole watercourse. The Long-tailed Skua is a species
that makes its mark on the area, but it only breeds in
years with large numbers of small rodents. The Arctic
Skua has become much more numerous in recent years
at Tørrvann, but whether it nests here is uncertain.

Birds of prey

In years with a good population of ptarmigan the Gyr
Falcon hunts around the lake, and the Rough-legged
Buzzard also often hunts in the area. Like the Gyr Falcon, it nests in steeper and more rugged terrain. In
good rodent years, the Short-eared Owl nests in the
area. It prefers to hide in low scrub by marshes where it
also nests. In lemming years the Snowy Owl can be seen
hunting here.


Tørrvann, or Guorroláttu, lies two km from road no.
890 from Austertana towards Båtsfjord or Berlevåg,
about 10 km before the road junction at Gednje. Park
the car beside the main road where you see that a gravel
road starts towards the hills. You can follow the gravel
road all the way to the stream between Tørrvann and
Stjernevann. The terrain is open and easy to walk along,
and after a slight uphill incline the road goes down to
the lake.