My second visit to Norway took place in June, 2014. The main aim was to reach a small island called Runde which is located in Møre og Romsdal county. The island has a population just a bit over 100.
Naturally, Norway is beautiful, no matter what season it is or where you’re located at. So what’s so special about Runde? Well, you should visit Runde because of the following fact that it’s inhabited by over 500 000 seabirds. As a bird fanatic I just can’t miss the kind of oppurtunity to see birds that I’ve gotten used to seeing in bird guides. Such as Black-legged Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla), Northern Gannets (Morus bassanus), Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica), Great Skuas (Stercorarius skua) or Common Guillemots (Uria aalge). The last one is not that common in Estonia. It’s also possible to see Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres) by the mountain lakes. Runde is surely not all about birding. You could go hiking and fishing, enjoy the scenery. The coastal area is filled with birds, stones, clams etc.
The main attraction of the island is most certainly the Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica). They’re featured basically on everything, like stickers, figures, posters, mugs. You name it. This clumsy and sad-looking small seabird is the main reason why this island is visited by Germans, Finns, Dutch. At least as much I saw it, Norwegians themselves visit this island with families, mostly on Sundays. They’re into hiking in the mountains and enjoying the scenery. Or actually it’s not even hiking for them, it’s more like ‘’a walk in the park’’.
Although sleeping is a secondary thing while being on the island, I would most definately suggest you to take those small 4-spaced cabin’s in the Goksöyr Camping. It is bit more expensive than camping with a tent, but it’s worth it. Although I must warn you. Those three cabins are usually reserved months in advance. The main settlement is located on the Northern, North-Eastern, Eastern, South-Eastern and Southern coast. Cliffs on the Western coast are crowded with Razorbills (Alca torda) and Atlantic Puffins (Fratercula arctica). Even though it’s a small island, it seems like a big one and you may easily have a moment for yourself. As I’ve said, it’s possible to hike, but you have to beware of the restrictions and most definately of Great Skuas. They might be quite aggressive and attack trespassers. Most aggressive Skuas are around the lakes where you could also see some old foundations, dams and sheep.
At least for me, the view was incredible, just breathtaking. Our host, Knut, told us that we brought sunshine with us. At the same time, it was snowing in Estonia (before we left, it was sunny and warm and it’s not normal to see snow during the summer months). So we were just lucky. My goal on Runde was to meet lot’s of different kinds of birds, to take some photos of ‘em and to film them for the nature tv show ‘’Ozone’’ (Estonian Public Broadcasting). I’ll tell you a little secret. Even if you’re not that good at seeing birds, you most certainly will see birds on that island. I’m being honest now, I was quite indolent. Mainly because birds came so close to me, that I didn’t feel the kind of excitement that I usually feel.
About birdwatching. The best time to go to watch Puffins is probably May-June and mainly cause their beaks are very colourful during the nesting season. After the nesting season, they return to open sea where they fight with high and dangerous Atlantic waves. Life is rough and Puffins probably know that. Puffins are afraid of Skuas and I guess that avoiding threats is the main reason why they breed in colonies. It’s safer that way.
I visited the Western cliffs after 7-8PM. It’s a good time cause of light and cause thousands of Puffins come to feed their chicks and after that they have time for themselves. One of the coolest things was bird safari with a little boat. Thanks to big waves we weren’t able to see all of the coast from the sea side, but this gave us time to stand still in some hotspots where we were able to see Razorbills, European Shags, Common Guillemots and Northern Gannets.
About the Northern Gannets. First breeding pairs were detedted in 1970-1980’s and after that their colony has grown. They’re doing so well cause there’s lots of big fish in the sea, can’t say that about little fish like Ammodytes or Rollers. That’s why Kittiwakes and Puffins are not doing well in the last couple of years. One suggestion about the boat trip. It takes place several times a day, of course you have to check the weather, but my suggestions would be – try to go with the latest trip, cause of the light. I mean, if you’re after taking some photos as well.
Whole island is full of birds, nice people and there’s even a museum. The only thing that might get you exhausted is taking a trip to see the lighthouse, which is situated in the South-Western side of the island. The trail was full of ups and lows, but Norwegians did it without even blinking. We didn’t even go down to get a closer look at the lighthouse and different buildings, the climbing that we would have done to get back up again, would have just killed us.