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Mykines Island: Bird Kingdom of the Faroe Islands

September 16, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 It was early on a Tuesday morning, and it was one of my last days in the Faroe Islands. The Faroe Islands are a ancient volcanic archipelago in the northern portion of the Atlantic Ocean. While they were volcanic, there is no more volcanic activity on these islands. It is a territory of Denmark and can be found in between Norway and Iceland. The map gallery below will better explain the location of the Faroe Islands and the individual islands.

This was one of the day's I was looking forward to for a long time. It would be a lengthy day of hiking around the western most island of the Faroe Islands chain, known as Mykines Island. The goal for this day was to spend many hours observing and taking photographs of what the island is most famous for, it's bird population. More specifically, the goofy and awkward looking Puffins!

 

 

Like the Faroe Islands, Mykines Island is a unique island all in its own as well. It is thought to be one of the oldest islands of the Faroe Islands chain, and as of right now, it is estimated that the island has 6 people who are year round residents. There are also no official roads on the island or tunnels that connect to it, unlike most of the other islands in the Faroes. The only mode of travel on this island for visitors is by foot! The only village is Mykines which is named after the island. Mykines is located on the western side of the island.

 

There are only two ways to reach Mykines Island as a tourist. Your only options are taking the ferry or using the Faroe Island's subsidized helicopter transportation. I wouldn't be surprised that if popularity trends of visiting the Faroe Islands continue for another year or two, the cheap helicopter option will no longer be an option.

 

I departed from the small town of Sørvágur. The ferry launch can be found near the docks on the southwestern portion of the town. The ferry ride was crowded and quite cold. I couldn't help but have the memory of the first Jurassic Park pop up in my mind when approaching the island. More specifically, the scene where the helicopter approaches Jurassic Park from the sea. Approaching Mykines Island by way of the ferry is basically the same, right?! Cue the Jurassic Park theme music! If only I took the helicopter to Mykines, it would be pretty much identical. The island looks like a looming giant as you approach from Vágar Island.  I was excited! Finally, my dream to see the awkward but adorable puffins was coming true.  

 

It should be known for those who wish to travel here that flights and ferries are often cancelled due to weather conditions. It is definitely a extreme weather area as it is frequently quite windy, cold, and waves can be quite vicious. If visiting this island is important, make sure to plan several days in your itinerary to attempt to travel here, with back up plans in case transportation is cancelled for the day.

 

Arrival on Mykines

 

Once you arrive, the excitement begins. The unloading zone for the ferry is tucked into a small little inlet, surrounded by cliffs and large rocks. There is little room for maneuverability for the ferry. Once departing the ferry, you will proceed up several staircases and then enter the outskirts of Mykines. From there, you will see a long grass path that leads up to the ridgeline of the island. This path will bring you to the western most portions of the island, and to the home of thousands and thousands of birds.  When you reach the top, you will likely begin to see your first close up glimpses of Puffins and many other birds that call this island their home. 

 

From here, you can continue on along the ridge line as it reaches out further west.  The further west you go along the island, the more birds you will come across. On the sides of the island, and the hollowed out cliffs, you will find bird colonies and nests.  There will be plenty of Puffins even hanging out in the steep grassy hills along side the ridge resting in the sun, eating,, or perhaps even enjoying the magnificent views as well.

 

I spent about 8 hours on this portion of the island taking photos, relaxing, and admiring the wildlife on this solitary island. 

 

There is plenty to see and do while you are here, but it definitely a wildlife admirer and photographer paradise.  The scenery is unreal, and the bird population is impossible to avoid. Thousands and thousands of birds chill and fly around the cliffs of these islands.

 

The Puffins

 

This is likely the biggest attraction for traveling to this western most island of the Faroe Islands. Yes, there are awesome, jaw dropping landscapes to admire, a cool remote village, and tons of other bird wildlife too.  If you are going to Mykines Island to see Puffins, generally April through mid August is the best time, as this is when they are nesting.  The remainder of the year, they are often at sea for months at a time.

 

 

Puffins are curious birds, but they still can be quite shy. They will likely let you get relatively close, but they will fly away if you get too close. During the nesting season, avoid hiking and crashing through a nesting area as this may disturb them and scare them away from their young. If you are doing photography, it would be suggested to bring a good telescopic lens and a tripod!

 

 

To learn more about these cool sea-faring birds, click the link to this informational webpage on puffins. Below is a larger gallery of photos of Puffins doing Puffin things.