Sørkjosen is the most important among several large tidal areas in Balsfjord, being the outlet of two rivers at the head of the fjord. The tidal zone stretches from Markenes in the east to Storsteinnes in the west, consisting of large areas of mud, sand and gravel-banks, and extends as far as 700 m out. Along the shoreline there is some woodland of alder Alnus and birch Betula, a medium-sized coastal meadow, agricultural fields, and some industrial areas. Offshore, outside the IBA, are important fishing areas and spawning grounds for herring Clupea harengus and capelin Mallotus villosus.
Huge flocks of Calidris canutus stage here on the way to their breeding grounds in Greenland and northern Canada, arriving in early May and peaking at several tens of thousands before departing at the end of the month. In late winter, large flocks of seaduck gather in Sørkjosen, feeding on the eggs of capelin and herring. One or two Falco rusticolus sometimes hunt in the area.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
As of 1989, industry was expanding and threatened the tidal area. The area is proposed as a Ramsar Site.
National None International None
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Balsfjord. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 21/03/2023.