Vadsø and Kibymyra
In Vadsø you can find exciting bird life, even in the town centre. Both in the harbour
and along the tideline just east of the centre, you are guaranteed to see Steller’s Eider in
winter and spring. Large flocks of waders stop to feed and rest during migration, and on
Vadsøya, waders, ducks and passerines all nest. Kibymyra lies north-east of Vadsø, and is a
rich wetland that has been proposed to be given protection.
It is primarily the shallow areas between Vadsøya and
the town itself that attracts large numbers of birds.
Here it is so shallow that in principle one can wade over
to Vadsøya at low tide, but the soft mud underfoot with
its rich benthic fauna hardly invites to this.
Best time to visit
There are most species in summer, but Vadsø has much
to offer throughout the year. The spring migration of
waders reaches a peak in the week following 17th May.
Then you can still reckon on seeing the sought-after
Steller’s Eider before it leaves its wintering areas and
moves to north-east Russia.
Habitat and observation species
Immediately west of the town centre lies the harbour
basin where King Eiders, Steller’s Eiders and Long-tailed
Ducks lie during the winter months. The Glaucous Gull
is present in small numbers in winter, while the Iceland
Gull is more sporadic. These species can also be observed
from the fishing quay at Ørtangen. The Common Eider
and Cormorant are also common. Among waders one
can see Purple Sandpiper in winter, Dunlin on spring
migration and Oyster Catcher in summer. Other wader
species appear more sporadically.
On the east side of the centre there is a more varied
birdlife. On the tideline and the shallow water areas from the Statoil station and all the way to Ytrebyfjæra,
there will often be large numbers of ducks and waders.
Here the Steller’s Eider forages at low tide in winter,
and often a few stay until the end of May. Later one
finds mainly young birds, but sometimes one can also
see adults in summer plumage here in June.
The Long-tailed Duck is numerous in winter,
Common Eider and Mallard are common throughout
the year, and one or two King Eiders may be seen in
winter. Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, Wigeon,
Teal and a few Pintail can also be seen here, mainly in
spring and early summer. Glaucous Gull, together with
the one or two sporadic Iceland Gulls, can be found
in the large flocks of Herring Gulls and Great Blackbacked
Gulls that often gather here, especially in late
The Purple Sandpiper forages in small flocks
throughout the winter, often easy to approach and fine
to photograph. The Dunlin is very common on spring
migration, when the Bar-tailed Godwit is also most
numerous. Turnstone and Ringed Plover are common
in summer, Temminck’s Stint and Little Stint in more
varying numbers. Juvenile Spotted Redshanks are often
seen on autumn migration in August. Flocks of several
hundred Knots are a colourful sight during late May
and sometimes the first days in June.
Vadsøya lies immediately south of Vadsø centre. Drive
over the bridge and stop by Vadsø Fjordhotell. From
the parking site you look out over Makkeleire with its
Here one finds, naturally enough, the same species as in
Ytrebyfjæra, but the number of Dunlin just east of the
bridge can exceed 1000 on a good day in late May.
Among curiosities, it may be mentioned that
Norway’s first observations of Semipalmated Plover and
Greater Spotted Eagle were made here with only a few
days interval in May 2001.
Further east on Vadsøya there are grassy plains, willow
scrub and a large pool. Several pairs of nesting Redthroated
Pipits are the main attraction, as also are the often
large numbers of Red-necked Phalaropes in the pool by the
airship mast. Several pairs of Tufted Ducks nest annually by
the pool, and as a rule also Wigeon and Mallard. Common
Eider are also often seen here. Redshank, Wood Sandpiper,
Golden Plover and Whimbrel may be present on the
island, whereas the Temminck’s Stint and Ruff appear less
often than previously. A large colony of Arctic Terns nested regularly on
Vadsø during many years, but are now more unstable.
Among passerines you can reckon on seeing Meadow
Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Bluethroat, Willow Warbler,
Redwing, Greenfinch, Common Redpoll and possibly
Vadsøya also has a number of cultural relics: tofts of
villages dating from the Middle Ages, firing positions
from the Second World War, and not least the airship
mast – first used in connection with Amundsen’s
expedition over the North Pole in 1926.
Turn off from main road E75 some hundred metres east
of Vadsø centre, where there is a sign “Skytebane” (rifle
range). Follow the road 4.7 km to the left of the rifle
range, park by the buildings by the river, and go over
the bridge. The path eastwards follows the north side
of Kibymyra (the Kiby mire), where you have the best
There are plans to protect Kibymyra, which has a rich
birdlife of wetland species and passerines.
The Wood Sandpiper is a characteristic species, while
breeding Jack Snipe is perhaps the greatest attraction.
The following also breed: Golden Plover, Temminck’s
Stint, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Red-necked Phalarope,
Bar-tailed Godwit and Whimbrel. In connection with
protection, the bog has been thoroughly investigated,
and nesting Common Sandpiper, Curlew, Redshank,
Little Stint and Lapwing have all been registered. The
Ruff has unfortunately decreased greatly during the
period since these registrations.
Red-throated Diver and Black-throated Diver are commonly observed, and ten species of duck have been
recorded. Among these are Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Scaup,
Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Red-breasted
Merganser and Goosander. Common Crane, Spotted
Redshank and Hen Harrier are more sporadic visitors.
Redwing, Bluethroat, Lapland Longspur, Reed
Bunting, Willow Warbler, Common Redpoll and
Brambling dominate among the passerines in the area.
In addition, there are Sedge Warbler, Yellow Wagtail
and Red-throated Pipit. Willow Ptarmigan and Arctic
Skua are other breeding species.