Vardø is a small island reached by a 3 km long sub-sea tunnel and is one of the main birding towns in Varanger.
In winter and early spring the main harbour, Vestervågen, is an excellent place to see Glaucous and Iceland Gulls which are attracted to the fishing vessel activity. Numbers of Glaucous Gulls can sometimes be several hundred. Seaducks to be seen here often include Long-tailed Ducks, King Eiders and Steller´s Eiders amongst the Common Eiders. Seawatchers can take advantage of two Biotope-designed wind shelters in Vardø, found both at the northeasternmost point, Hasselnes, and southwesternmost point of the island, Steilnes. In winter and spring huge rafts of eiders can be seen from them, of all three species, often thousands of birds strong. The Hasselnes shelter has an excellent view of Hornøya bird cliff and the body of water between Vardø and Hornøya can be boiling with seaducks, alcids and gulls. The waters around Vardø is some of the richest in the vast Barents Sea. Vardø town is a favoured town to stay in for birders and nature photographers. We very much recommend staying at Vardø Hotel (harbour views from the excellent restaurant). Or stay at the Skagen Bo- og Havfiske guesthouse. Several options at available in Vardø and new ones are about to appear as birding and nature based tourism is on the rise in Vardø and Varanger!
During summer the passage waders here can include Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper, Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Little Stint, Red Knot, Red-necked Phalarope, Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Temminck´s Stint, Turnstone, Whimbrel and Wood Sandpiper. Dunlin and Common Ringed Plover are common here. From mid-August into September, Red-necked Phalaropes move from breeding pools on the tundra to the coast, feeding in large rafts in the surf before starting their migration south (read more about the surfbirds of Vardø).
Svartnes is the area of mainland at the foot of Domen and just west of Vardø island and northeast of the local airport. It is a very good location to bird around, with its mixture of tundra, lowland bogs, fields, coastal beach and large harbour. In winter and early spring the harbour is a big draw for gulls, who gather in large groups to wash at the river outlets. In summer, breeding waders here include Temminck´s Stint. The dunes and tundra along the road side are some of the best places to see Shore Lark, Bluethroat, Red-throated Pipit and Arctic Skuas.