Measured in the number of nesting pairs, Lyngøy is the largest seabird colony in Hordaland. It has been a SEAPOP key site since 2009. Contact person: Geir Helge Systad, NINA

Location and description

Lyngøy (60° 04′ 34″N, 05° 30′ 57″ E) is an island in the north of Tysnes municipality in Vestland. The 62-da island is in Bjørnafjorden about 2.5 kilometers from land. The site was established as a nature reserve for seabirds in 1987.

The surrounding islands – Fluøyane, Fluøyskjeret, Vesøyane and Terneskjæret – are also nature reserves. They are characterized by revegetation, and Lyngøy therefore has an important function as a breeding site for the seabirds in the area. In 1993, heather was burnt off in the middle of the island to improve the habitat to suit the gulls. This has probably contributed to stable population levels on the island. The numbers of seabirds, and especially gulls, have apparently been stable or increasing since the mid 1990s.

The vegetation on Lyngøy consists mainly of heather and grass species with tens of small pine trees. The bedrock consists of quartzite, and near the middle of the island there is a depression containing a moist marshy area. This is the core of the lesser black-backed gulls Larus fuscus that nest on the island.

Key site Vestland consits of the island Lyngøy in Tysnes municipality.
Photo: Arild Breistøl


Access to the island is only possible by boat. The shortest route is to take a small boat from Våge on Tysnes about 3.3 km from Lyngøy. It is also possible to travel from Osøyro on the other side of the Bjørnafjord, but here a larger boat is recommended since this fjord can be rough. Lyngøy has a natural harbor for small boats, so it is relatively easy to land in most weather conditions. Access to the reserve and traffic within zone 50 meters from land are forbidden in the period 15 April – 31 July.


In Lyngøy, bird life is dominated by herring Larus argentatus and lesser black-backed gulls. In the monitoring period 2009-2017, the breeding population of the former has varied between 320 and 380 pairs. For lesser black-backed gulls, here the southern subspecies L. f. intermedius, the population has varied between 80 and 120 pairs. Figures from 1979 show that large gulls also dominated the island, but that the lesser black-backed gulls were then in the majority with 110-130 pairs (the population of herring gulls was estimated to be 60-95 pairs). Of other bird species, we find great black-backed gulls L. marinus, common gulls L. canus, greylag geese Anser anser, eiders Somateria molissima, oystercatchers Hamentopus ostralegus and red-breasted mergansers Mergus serrator. Of passerines, the island has rock Anthus petrosus, and meadow pipits A. pratensis and hooded crows Corvus cornix.

The county governor of Vestland has chosen the Fluøyane Nature Reserve (which includes Lyngøy) as a focus area for the eradication of mink Neovison vison. In addition to traditional traps, the islands are searched using a specially trained dog at least every second winter to take out territorial individuals. Lyngøy was considered mink-free in 2015, but the distance to land is so short that reestablishment can be expected. Otters have not been observed on either Lyngøy or the islands around, but the population in Vestland is increasing and is found in areas not far from the site. It is probable that otters have already established themselves in the vicinity, which may be positive considering that the otter seems to outperform the mink.

A newly hatched lesser black-backed gull chick.
Photo: Arild Breistøl

Human activity

There is little human activity on Lyngøy. We have seen fishing nets within the 50-meter zone around the island, and this has been reported as a deviation to the local SNO representative. It is unclear how large the catch of wrasse is in the area, but we can assume that it takes place. Since seabird monitoring started on the island, there has been no grazing by livestock.



Birds have been ringed on Lyngøy since the 1960s, but totalled only a few hundred during the first three decades. In the 1990s and 2000s, the effort was intensified, and >2000 chicks were ringed on the island. In total, 1502 herring gulls, 1286 lesser black-backed and 53 great black-backed gulls (all pulli) were ringed before ringing in SEAPOP was initiated in 2010.

The breeding success for certain species has been monitored since 2009 by memebers of the Hordaland branch of BirdLife Norge. Students from the University of Bergen have occasionally also participated in the work.