Brunnich's Guillemot Bird Bazaar Featured in
Brunnich's Guillemot also known as Thick-billed guillemot or Thick-billed murre, or simply auk, is widely spread in the Arctic. These birds feed on the sea, and are capable of diving up to a hundred meters deep if necessary. But when it comes to their leisure time they prefer to stay on the cliffs. They use rocks to lay eggs, and then raise their chicks.
Although Brunnich's Guillemot are found allover the Arctic, some places are famed for particularly large colonies, like Svalbard, for instance. Nearly 60,000 birds converge within the Svalbard archipelago. Mount Alkefjellet seems to be particularly popular among the birds. The name Alkefjellet speaks for itself, as it literally means the Mountain of the Guillemots.
From the distance, the cliffs look as if they were dotted with dark spots all over the surface. These dots are dark-spined Brunnich's Guillemots, that virtually invade every possible horizontal space on the cliffs. The view, as well as the sound produced by thousands of "arring" birds is a truly impressive spectacle.
The bird bazaar 'operates' year-round, yet in winters most of the auks leave Svalbard for southern breeding grounds around Iceland, Greenland, and Canada. Therefore, the best time to observe Brunnich's Guillemot colony in all its magnitude is summer. Besides, the most convenient way to see bird cliffs is to go on cruise, and boats reach the area only when the sea is ice-free, that is roughly mid-May through the end of September or the beginning of October.
Even if you happen not to capture the colony on your trip, breathtaking Arctic landscapes are worthwhile to see them.
When is the best time to visit to observe Brunnich's Guillemot colonies in Svalbard?
One can observe the Brunnich's Guillemot colonies in Svalbard between mid-May and the end of September or the beginning of October. During winters, the birds migrate to southern breeding grounds around Iceland, Greenland, and Canada. Show more
In which location can one find the largest concentration of Brunnich's Guillemot colonies?
The Svalbard archipelago is home to nearly 60,000 Brunnich's Guillemot birds, making it one of the largest colonies in the world. The birds are particularly attracted to Mount Alkefjellet's cliffs to mate, lay eggs, and raise their young. The dark spots dotted around the cliff's surface suggest the site's popularity among the birds. Show more
How deep can Brunnich's Guillemot dive for food in Svalbard?
Brunnich's Guillemot is capable of diving up to one hundred meters deep in search of food in Svalbard. During their leisure time, they prefer the colony's cliff. Interestingly, the colony produces an impressive 'arrr' symphony that can be heard throughout the archipelago. Show more
Is it possible to see the Brunnich's Guillemot colony all year round in Svalbard?
The Brunnich's Guillemot colony can be seen all year round in Svalbard. However, most birds migrate to southern breeding grounds around Iceland, Greenland, and Canada during winter. Therefore, it is best to visit Svalbard between mid-May and the end of September or the beginning of October to observe the colony's abundance. Cruise ships are a convenient way to reach bird cliffs when the sea is ice-free. Show more
What is the best way to see the Brunnich's Guillemot colony on the cliffs?
The best way to see the Brunnich's Guillemot colony on the cliffs is to join a cruise. Boats can only get to Svalbard when the sea is free of ice, which is typically between mid-May and the end of September or the beginning of October. A boat ride promises breathtaking Arctic views on the way to the bird cliffs, making the tour worthwhile. Show more