Soria Moria
- the perfect starting point for bird watching

Soria Moria camping is situated close to two important bird reserves: Rinnleiret Naturvernreservat at the mouth of the river Rinnelva, and Ørin Nord, at the river Verdalselva's delta. Both have status as "Ramsar" areas. (The walking distance to Rinnleiret Nature Reserve is about 300m.)

A total of 210 species have been registered in the area which is particularly important for ducks and wading birds. A specially designated Ramsar centre is being planned which will become a part of a national and international network

Even today, Soria Moria Camping is employed as accommodation for bird watchers, particularly from Great Britain and Germany. The camping site is a perfect starting point for those who want to visit the many exciting bird habitats.

Trondheimsfjord is the 3rd longest fjord in Norway. Along its eastern boundary lies productive agricultural areas and abundant mudflats well suited for roosting ducks and waders. The finest wetlands of the Trondheimsfjord region are collectively termed the Trondheimsfjord wetland system, and are considered one of Northern Europe's most important RAMSAR areas.

A few days of birding alongside the Trondheimsfjord almost invariably result in several exciting and interesting sightings. Numerous pairs of White-tailed Eagle breed in close vicinity to the fjord, and can be seen daily all year round, especially in conjunction with the best wetlands of the area. Additionally, tens of thousands of birds use the fjord as wintering quarters or roosting site during migration.

The wintering populations comprise several bird species including Red-throated Diver, White-billed Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Velvet Scooter, Long-tailed Duck, and Common Eider, in addition to large numbers of various gulls – Iceland Gull and Glaucous Gull included. The island of Tautra and the tidal stream of Straumen are the most important locations for wintering birds in the fjord.

Throughout migration the mudflats are crowded by ducks and waders in great numbers. Furthermore, more than 60.000 Pink-footed Geese use the easternmost parts of the fjord as roosting grounds on their passage to and from Spitsbergen. Colossal flocks counting several thousand birds are common, and represent one of the main attractions for the duration of both spring and fall migration. Within these herds of Pink-footed Geese all European goose species have been recorded, although Barnacle Goose, Bean Goose, White-fronted Goose, and Greylag Goose are the only ones appearing regularly.

The fresh water lakes of the region, including Leksdalsvatnet in Verdal and Hammervatnet in Levanger, are very productive (i.e. eutrophic), and thus represent a relatively uncommon habitat at such northern latitudes. Here, Scandinavia's densest populations of Slavonian Grebe reside, and both Red-throated Divers and Black-throated Divers rear their young in the area. In addition, hundreds of Whooper Swans use these lakes as roosting grounds during spring and fall migration, and the rare Little Gull breeds in the region nearly annually.

However, it is the combination of pristine wetlands, dark mossy coniferous forests and untainted wide open mountains, which makes the Trondheimsfjord one of Norway's most attractive destinations for birders and wildlife photographers. The vegetation of the inland region is dominated by tall spruce forests, in which many of Scandinavia's most exclusive bird species reside in good numbers all year, including Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Hazel Grouse, and Willow Grouse. These species are especially easy to locate in April and May during lekking, when males pompously display their magnificence in order to attract females. Furthermore, several woodpecker species inhabit the woodlands of the area, including Three-toed Woodpecker, Grey-headed Woodpecker, and Black Woodpecker. Owl species such as Tengmalm's Owl, Pygmy Owl, and Northern Hawk Owl lay their eggs in old woodpecker holes, and all are found in good numbers in years when rodents are plentiful. Similar rodent-based fluctuations are seen in the Rough-legged Buzzard population, a raptor which some years constitutes the most numerous bird of prey. Cranes breed commonly in close proximity to lakes and ponds, mainly in the subalpine region, but also less frequently down to the cultural landscapes of the region.

Several of the bird species of the mountain regions, such as those of the subalpine bogs, heathland and grassland of Øvre Forra nature reserve, are also rather exotic. Small puddles of water scattered across bogs form the preferred habitat of the Red-necked Phalarope and Ruff. In the much drier heath- and grassland, lekking male Great Snipes display their splendour sitting on a tussock. Ring Ouzels, Snow Buntings, Rock Ptarmigans, Eurasian Dotterels, and Purple Sandpipers inhabit less accessible regions; however they all breed in the inhospitable environment of our highest mountain peaks. Bluethroats, Lapland Buntings, Siberian Jays, Horned Larks, and Icterine Warblers together account for our most exclusive high altitude passerines

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Pictures: Terje Kolaas

About birdwatching http://www.northernbirding.com/.