The waters around Vardø is the wintering areaa for 10.000s of King and Common Eiders. It is known as the King Eider Vortex. An Eider Vortex is true wildlife spactacle of breathtaking proportions. It describes the experience of being in the middle of Europes largest concentration of King Eiders. It occurs in winter, when Eiders gather in thousands along the coast of Varanger. The term King Eider Vortex was ´invented´ during the arctic bird festival Gullfest in 2013 by UK birder Tristan Reid. The massive numbers of King Eiders in Varanger had previously gone by unnoticed by the birding world. The previous record for high numbers of King Eiders was a once off bird count done via helicopter by the people at Birdlife Norway. They saw a 7000 individual raft of eider outside Hornøya bird cliff in the mid 2000s. However since Biotope set up basecamp in Vardø, we have systematically been counting wintering birds every year in February and March. These counts also included visiting places that had not previously been researched at this time of year. In short the discovery of these eider mega rafts was bound to happen, but the lack of local birders or scientists visiting the region in winter seemed to have let this pass under the radar. Several years in a row we counted as much as 14,000 King Eider and 17,000 Common Eiders and 6000+ Long-tailed Ducks in rafts seeking shelter in the southern parts of Bussesundet in Vardø. They were often "hiding" close to the cliffs of Mount Domen, making the birds not visible from the road, unless you actually take the walk to the edge of the cliffs to overview the sheltered bay of Molvika and the surrounding waters. 

The annual winter bird count of the Varanger fjord, by Biotope. The quality of Varanger as a key wintering ground for arctic seaducks have been firmly established.

The King Eider Vortex - a section of the thousands of wintering eiders in Vardø´s Bussesundet. Usually present from early February to late March, sometimes into April.

The King Eider Vortex - a section of the thousands of wintering eiders in Vardø´s Bussesundet. Usually present from early February to late March, sometimes into April.

The massive rafts of eiders also revealed the first ever Pacific Eider to be recorded in Europe / WP. A mega rarity. 

The massive rafts of eiders also revealed the first ever Pacific Eider to be recorded in Europe / WP. A mega rarity.