Waiting For The Puffins

Country Info:

Norway (area 3,85,252 square kilometers) is located in the western most part of the Scandinavian Peninsula in northern Europe. The country has Jan Mayen and the Svalbard archipelagos. Norway is bordered by Sweden in the east while at the extreme north, Norway touches Finland in south and Russia in the east. Denmark lies across the Skarregak Strait to the south of Norway. Atlantic Ocean lies to its west while Norwegian Sea to the north-west. In the south-west of Norway across the North Sea lie the United Kingdom and the Faroe Islands. Bouvet Island and Peter I Island are dependent territories of Norway. Norway’s coastlines are known for their fjiord formations). National capital is Oslo. Currency is Norwegian Krone.

Nord-Norge (North Norway):

It is a geographical entity in the northern part of Norway and consists of the Nordland, Troms and Finnmark counties. Bodø, Narvik, Harstad, Tromsø are among the largest urban centres in this region. Nord-Norge boasts of people of Norwegian, Norwegian Finn, Sami and Russian origin. This region is also popularly

Nordland county:

Nordland is a county located in the north-central part of Norway and its administrative headquarters is Bodø. Nordland is bordered by the Troms county in the north, Nord-Trøndelag county in the south (north-south stretch 500 kilometres), the Swedish counties of Norrbottens län in the east and Västerbottens län to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The Jay Mayen Island is administered from Nordland. The Vega Islands at Nordland have been listed on the World Heritage Site.

Geography of Nordland:

Nordland features rugged coastline and has several fjiords. Steep mountainous region near the sea with flat lowland area in between are normally viewed along the Nordland coasts. Nordland has a very mild climate. Summers are longer in the south. Autumn is the wettest season along the coast of Nordland while April – June is the driest. Winter seasons are also windy. Alpine Tundra is a common vegetation found in Nordland.

Flora:

Sitka spruce is commonly found in the coastal areas of Nordland, which belong to the Scandinavian coastal conifer forests ecoregion. The highland region, on the other hand, belongs to the Scandinavian montane birch forest and grasslands ecoregion. Rowan, Grey Alder, Birch, Scots Pine, Common Hazel are some other commonly found trees in the Nordland region. Nordland whitebeam is one of the rare endemic Norwegian trees that grow in Nordland.

Fauna at Nordland:

Nordland is home to a great many varieties of birds. The coastlines have a high density of sea eagles. The island of Røst off the coast has the largest colony of sea birds like Puffins and Cormorants. Lovund, as said earlier, is a well-known colony for the Puffins. Seagull, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Golden Arctic Tern, Grey Heron, Falcons like Gyrfalcon and Peregrine Falcons are commonly found.

The marine life here is also rich. Fish like coalfish, codfish, herring, halibut and others commonly found here. Bsking shark is the largest fish found in the sea. Orcas are found along the coast and also in the fjords while Sperm Whales are seen in the deep waters west of Andøya. Otters, harbour seals, harbour porpoises can also be spotted.

Among other animals, reindeer, brown fox, arctic fox (endangered), moose, hare, squirrel, grey wolf, badger, roe deer, red deer, pine marten, stoats are found. Common vipers and common frogs can also be seen.

Common Info about Lovund:

Lovund is a beautiful island in the sea lying to the west of Solver in Nordland County. It is home to the Lovund village of near about 500 people and is particularly famous for the large Puffin bird breeding colony.Cities like Moflaget in the east, Dorvaer in the north and Stavseng in the south lie closest to Lovund. Lovund is accessible from Stokka Airport in Sandnessjoen, Bronnoy Airport in Bronnoysund and Kjaerstad Airport in Mosjoen. The area of Lovund is 257 square kilometers.

Puffin colony at Lovund:

The Puffins of Lovund leave the island at the end of August every year. They fly out of Norway and across the North Sea for the winter. However, it is precisely at quarter to six in the evening on the 14th of April the next year (the date being fixed each year) that they return at Lovund. Thosands of bird-lovers and tourists throng Lovund just to get a glimpse of the timely return of these birds.

Puffins:

Puffins are pelagic seabird species often resembling penguins that breed in large colonies on coastal cliff areas and offshore islands (several breeding sites of the Puffins around the world are henceforth called Puffin Islands). They make their nests in rock fissures or soil burrows. Puffins generally have large beaks and short wings which are suitable for swimming under water. They are stockily built and have short tails. The upper part of their body is generally black while lower parts are white or brownish grey. Their beaks are colourful but after the breeding season gets over, they shed the colourful outer parts of their beaks and retain a duller one. Their feet are orange coloured. The birds remain calm when flying over the sea and fly at a height of 30 feet above the sea level. Puffins can be categorized into Atlantic Puffin, Horned Puffin and Tafted Puffin. These birds feed on fish and zooplanktons. The baby Puffins are fed with small marine fishes by the adults. Of late, experts have pointed out that the adult Puffins are leaving behind their chicks on the Lovund island and moving to some other location in search of food since herrings are increasingly falling short.

As far as breeding is concerned, the female Puffin lays single egg and both parents incubate the egg and feed the chick after it is born. The chicks generally fledge at night and spend the first few years at sea. They return to the breed after five years.

Thousands of puffins return to Lovund and the fishing village of Gjesvaer every year. At this time thousands of curious spectators fit their binoculars towards the sea and the sky to spot the advancing avians. Meanwhile, one can also feel entertained by acts performed by other residents of the area like sea eagles, cormorants and razorbills.

And then finally the moment arrives. A huge black cloud is found to be advancing and when it approaches, one can find innumerable Puffins with their wings beating at full force heading towards the sea and the rocks. And soon these puffins are spread everywhere, in the water, up into the rocks and also hovering in the sky.

Puffins crashland in the water in a unique way. With their webbed feet out, they thud over the surface like a naïve parachutist and what looks even more comical is their way of knocking out other Puffins while tumbling into the water.

Other attractions and activities:
  • Lovund RorbuHotell at Lovund where one can enjoy the nature at its best. Ocean view, sunset view, deep sea fishing are some of the activities that one can experience here
  • Hiking at Junkerdal National Park at Nordland. Fauske is the nearest city to the national park. There are also other national parks like Børgefjell National Park, Rago National Park, Møysalen National Park and others.
  • Lofoten Islands. Whale watching, fishing, foot trail, rafting at Trollfjord, visiting Lofotr Viking Museum are some of the major attractions here.
  • Coastal landscape at Krystiksveien. Vega Archipelago, Torghatten Mountain, Coastal Museum at Norveg are some major attractions.
  • Coastal Cultural Centre at Lovund
  • Camping and caravanning
  • Salmon fishing at Lovund
  • Cruise safari from February to December
  • Hiking and trekking at Lovund: 
    Starting from Stokkvågen or Nesna. A 5 kilometre trail in Lovunda village till the beach and from then onwards to the Kalvedalen valley where the hike begins. From the top, one gets breathtaking views of Vega in the south, Mount Hestmannen in the north and Træna island to the north-west.
Reaching Nordland:
  • By air: 
    Bodø and Harstad/Narvik Airport (Evenes) are the two major airports at Nordland
  • By train: 
    Norwegian State Railways (NSB), which operate the Nordland Line that runs between Trondheim and Bodø.
  • By road: 
    Various bus service including that provide by Nor-Way Bussekspress connect Nordland. One can take E6 and E10 roadways to reach Nordland as well.
  • By water: 
    Norwegian Coastal Voyage, ferry service and express boats connect Nordland
  • Info about Lovund Puffin safari:
    A six- night voyage from Bergen in July-August costs from £1,275, including full board, flights and transfers. Bird-watching excursion to Gjesvaer costs around £76.
Time to visit:

Puffins are particularly visible till mid-July. There is a ‘Return of the Puffins’ escorted tour led by an ornithologist that starts in the early second week of April. It is a six-night voyage and includes bird watching, on board lectures, North Cape excursions and costs from £1,800 per person.

Accommodation at Lovund/Nordland:
  • Lovund RorbuHotell
  • Træna Gjestegård AS
  • Rica Hote, Bodo
  • Clarion Collection Hotel Grand Bodo
  • Rica Arctic Hotel, Bodo
  • Fauske Hotel, Fauske
  • Thon Hotel Lofoten, Svolvaer
  • Fru Haugans Hotel, Mosjoen
  • Stetind Hotel, Narvik
  • Norrona Hotel, Bodo

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