An archipelago of 5,847 islands, islets and skerries, with large expanses of intervening shallow sea. The main island, Smøla, is a mosaic of open mire and coastal heathland, with many small lakes, streams, ponds and pools, and is cultivated in places. Its coast is dissected by many inlets and bays. This is one of the largest marine wetlands in Norway, and some of the largest continuous mires in the country are also found here.
Smøla has one of the highest breeding densities (pairs per hectare of land) of Haliaeetus albicilla in the world. The sea areas are important for wintering divers Gavia, grebes Podiceps and various seaduck. Cygnus cygnus winter in notable numbers (up to 300 birds or more). The area has been an important moulting site for flocks of Anser anser, causing conflicts with the local farmers. The largest colony of Ardea cinerea ever found in Norway was located in the area during the 1970s (200-300 pairs). Some species normally found in the mountains of Norway, or along the coast further north, breed here, e.g. Pluvialis apricaria, Lagopus lagopus and Calcarius lapponicus. Breeding divers (Gavia stellata and, to a lesser extent, G. arctica) are also relatively common.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Smøla archipelago. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 23/01/2021.