Diskobukta Kittiwake Colony – Norway - Atlas Obscura
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Norway

Diskobukta Kittiwake Colony

Thousands of birds nest in the cliffs while arctic foxes prowl below. 

Located on Barent’s Island (Barenstøya), Diskobukta is not an easy destination to visit. But it’s definitely worth the trek. Exploring the cliffs around the bay means listening to a chorus of black-footed kittiwakes squawking so loudly that conversations below a scream are close to impossible.

The birds in this colony, which is well over a hundred thousand strong, build nests along the cliff walls to hatch their eggs and prepare them for flight. The birds speckle the dark, dreary rocks and soar above a shore littered with whale bones.

Unfortunately for the kittiwakes, people aren’t the only ones who visit Diskobukta to witness the magnificent colony. Along the base of the cliffs, you can spot another group of parents teaching their young some life skills, much to the danger of the birds.

Adult arctic foxes teach their pups how to hunt using fallen eggs and birds who happened to nest a bit too close to the ground. Though the foxes easily blend into the walls, a keen eye can catch them racing up and down the walls toward their prey. Polar bears, reindeer, and walruses have been seen within and around the bay as well.

Even without the animals’ presence, the area itself is worth exploring. The canyon leading to the bay was formed by a swift stream that gushes out to the ocean. At the mouth of the stream is an impressive waterfall tucked inside a cave, though a steep drop comes right before it. Outside of the canyon are abandoned whale hunting cabins from the late 19th century.

Know Before You Go

Diskobukta, and the entire island of Barenstøya, is only accessible by boat, meaning the best way to visit is via a Svalbard marine tour. Traveling with these tours in the summer is highly recommended instead of going alone, as the threat of a polar bear attack is high.