bits of Norway. 3. Dønna-Lovunden

Subject: bits of Norway. 3. Dønna-Lovunden
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001 17:18:19 +0200


From Tjøtta we continued to the larger island of Dønna, another bit of
road and some ferries further north, and now in fact already close to the
Polar Circle. Here we had a rorbu overlooking the harbour of the village of
Aaker, and this was partly chosen as we planned to meet my eldest daughter
Anna and her friend Kjetil, who just have started their great adventure, a
long long sailing trip in their lovingly renovated 32 ft sailing boat Ægir.

Everything worked out right, and even the weather changed our second day on
Dønna, to become wonderfully sunny and warm (awaking the mosquitos too!)
for the rest of our trip. Dønna is another one of those islands known from
the sagas (and inhabited already very much earlier, judging from the
bountiful grave mounds), again with a beautiful stone church that just had
celebrated its 800 yrs jubilee, and where we heard a fine chamber choir
concerto. A nature path wound up from this church, Dønnes church, through
varied and beautiful woodland to the top of Dønnes hill , where the view
over the Helgeland archipelago was really stupendous. Birdlife here was
largely the same as on Tjøtta, although without the Icterine Warbler.

Later we drove to the other side of the island, to Breivik, which the
brochures called 'the Riviera of Dønna', and which indeed turned out to be
a beautiful set of sandy beaches at the end of a most scenic road along the
ca 800 m high and very characteristic mountain Dønnamannen. In
contradistinction to the real Riviera, however, we were the only people
present virtually all afternoon. Here the sandy foreshore was completely
covered by flowering Mountain Avens Dryas octopetala,  their white colours
nicely offset by the yellow of Alpine Cinquefoil Potentilla crantzii and
the pink of Moss Campion Silene acaulis.  Also here there were
comparatively few seabirds: gulls, oystercatchers and Red-breasted
Mergansers, but a beautifully elegant Golden Eagle, the only one of the
trip, gave a wonderful flying exhibition overhead, and this was also the
place where the Ring Ouzels let themselves be watched from quite close by.
Among the songbirds on the slope a Winter Wren stood out; they are rather
thin on the ground so far north.

In the evening, as we were sitting on the quayside in the rapidly improving
weather, I finally saw the first Arctic Tern of the trip, and Dønna also
had a few Eiders, still scarce, though.

The next days the weather became so glorious that we decided to interrupt
our progress north for a day, and take a ferry out to Lovunden, one of the
outer islands, and visible already from Dønnes hill as a  tophat flung far
away in the sea, just in front of the still more characteristic and famous
silhouette of the rocks of the island of Træna. Lovunden is well-known for
its vast Atlantic Puffin colony; these 'sea-parrots' here nest mainly among
the rocks and stones of vast screes covering the ca 650 m high hillside,
and at a distance the birds look like a bee-swarm, especially when one of
the many sea eagles is hunting for his dinner along the scree. There are
few seabirds at Lovunden besides the puffins, and we saw in fact only Black
Guillemots and Shags during the 4-5 hours we were ashore and walked the
paths along the outer circumference of the island; unless the Greylag Geese
also count as seabirds, that is---they occur on all these islands. And here
finally there were lots of Common Eiders, often with small downy chicks,
and also Arctic terns.

 There are lots of sheep there, and they are tamer than usual and even let
themselves be touched (The combination of sheep and sea eagles is a very
common and unproblematic one on these idslands, by the way); the most
common birds on these grassy slopes are Meadow pipits, Northern Wheatears
and Fieldfares, but in the surprisingly luxuriant copses on the leeward
side of the island, where the village is (Lovunden is an active village of
some 800 souls) all the usual song birds can be heard, and Ravens croak
from the higher cliffs. Usually such islands also have a large falcon or
two, but we never saw one here today.

Islands, especially these outer islands , always have a charm all their
own, and we had a wonderful day on Lovunden, even though the weather, very
exceptionally for here, was almost too warm for strenuous hiking.

                                                        Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum
                                                        9037 Tromsø, Norway

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