Kittiwakes of Vishellern, Vedøya

Since this soundscape was recorded in 2010-2011, the decline in the seabird population on Røst has escalated. During the summer of 2020 the bird mountain of Vedøya, including the Kittiwakes breeding in the Vishellern cave, were gone.

Here is a small excerpt of a recording I did overnight at the bottom of the cave in 2010 or 2011. The sonic sensation of a flock of Kittiwakes flying out of the cave and over you is one of the strongest and most mesmerizing sound memories I carry with me.

Statistically speaking there are no more Kittiwakes and Guillemot breeding on Vedøya. In 1980 there were approximately 1.5 million pairs of Puffins breeding in all of the Røst archipelago and on Vedøya only, 12000 pairs of Guillemots and 25.000 pairs of Kittiwakes. Nowadays, the overall Puffin population is down to around 200.000 pairs and the few Guillemots left are hiding in small caves and crevices. The last Kittwakes of Røst are now clinging on in Kårøya and Gjellfruvær. If the decline continues, there will be no Puffins left in Røst by 204o.

 Vedøy is the most famous of the bird mountains in the Røst arhipelago. No more than thirty years ago there were more than 20000 pairs of Kittiwakes nesting in the steep cliffs of Vedøy. The soundscape was so loud it could be heard on the neighboring islands. In late March of 2010, I experienced a vague shadow of what it must have sounded like back then when a white cloud of elegant kittiwakes vocalized and moved in and out of the bird cliffs simultaneously. Today there are only a few thousand of Kittiwake pairs left, and they are listed as critically threatened on the Norwegian red list.

Photo: Querinifest 2019 – Concert by Vishellarn – Avisa Nordland