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Lista Lighthouse – natural experiences and a birdwatcher’s paradise

Lista Lighthouse offers stunning coastal scenery and magnificent cultural landscapes, miles of beautiful sand dunes and spectacular pebbly beaches. It is also a birdwatcher’s paradise: Nowhere else in Norway have so many different bird species been sighted in one place – no fewer than 341 species.
Birdwatching at Lista Lighthouse in Southern Norway
Birdwatching at Lista Lighthouse.
Photo: Inge Dalen © Visit Sørlandet
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“This is Norway’s best bird hide,” says Jonas Langbråten.
He is a nature guide at Lista Lighthouse in the municipality of Farsund and a keen birdwatcher himself. 

The bird hide is situated next to the old lighthouse station at Lista. The hide is perfect for keen birdwatchers. Birdwatchers can sit in the warm and dry hide while the rain and the wind blow in from the North Sea. Several other similar hides have been constructed along the famous Lista beaches and next to the nearby freshwater lakes. 

Lista is often referred to as the country’s largest stopover site for migratory birds crossing the North Sea. The flat, distinctive area has Norway’s highest recorded number of bird species. And the liveliest area of all is around the lighthouse. 

“Birdwatching is so fascinating because there’s so much to discover. There are so many different species of birds and it’s a constant delight to keep discovering new ones,” explains Langbråten.

Birdwatching at Lista beach in Southern Norway

Watch bird migration in action

For Norwegian birdwatchers, the best experience of all is of course to see birds that have never been seen in Norway before. Birdwatchers flock to the area from far and wide when something big happens:
“We recently saw a laughing gull out here, which is an American species. People come from all over if they hear a new species has been spotted,” says an enthusiastic Jonas Langbråten. 

One of the biggest events in the ornithological world was the sighting of a grey-necked bunting at Lista Lighthouse in 2011. 
“It was the first one to have ever been spotted in Norway,” says Langbråten.
Sightings of Siberian pipit and Siberian accentor are amongst the latest additions to the long list of species sighted at Lista Lighthouse.

Depending on the time of year, you can see the following species around the lighthouse: 
Little auk (nests in the Arctic, but migrates past Lista in the autumn and early winter, and can be seen in their hundreds, perhaps even thousands, on good days).
Grey-headed woodpecker, black woodpecker (the largest of the woodpeckers) and several other types of woodpecker.

White-tailed eagle, rough-legged buzzard, Eurasian dotterel, red-backed shrike, parrot crossbill, Atlantic puffin, northern hawk owl (and other owl species) … and lots of other birds.

If you are up with the lark, you can see how bird marking is done in practice. Active monitoring and daily bird counts at Lista Lighthouse also help to monitor trends in bird populations over time.

Lista Fyr

Vital role as a wetland visitor centre

Lista Lighthouse has now also been designated the Lista National Wetland Visitor Centre. The main factor behind the rich bird life in the area is the many wetlands in Lista which have Ramsar status. Ramsar is an international agreement concerning the conservation of wetlands.

At Lista Lighthouse and across Lista, you will find many shallow bays with long sandy and pebbly beaches, undulating rock slabs, bogs, extensive agricultural areas, large freshwater lakes, heathery moorland and lush forests. These are the very environments that attract birds. Wetlands are also one of the habitat types to be under the greatest threat and they are therefore pivotal to the nature conservation work. 

Lista National Wetland Visitor Centre presents the Lista wetland system’s international conservation values, with a particular focus on the Ramsar areas, Slevdalsvannet nature reserve and bird migration at Lista.  
“The centre will help to promote a greater understanding and general insight into the function of wetlands as an ecosystem and their value for us humans,” says Pål Hals, general manager at List wetland visitor centre. 

The nature guide at the lighthouse, Jonas Langbråten, gives tours of the lighthouse and the bird station. The centre tailors natural experiences for groups and individuals all year round.

Beach at Lista Lighthouse in Southern Norway

Be a lighthouse keeper during the holidays

At Lista Lighthouse, you can also experience life as a lighthouse keeper. When you rent one of the two delightful apartments in the assistant's accommodation, each of which sleeps up to seven, you will also receive a key to the lighthouse. This gives unrestricted access to the lighthouse throughout your stay. 

There are numerous trails in the area. They offer stunning coastal scenery and a magnificent cultural landscape, kilometres of beautiful sand dunes and spectacular pebbly beaches. Plus the seaboard harbour of Loshavn

Speaking of pebbly beaches, Lista's beaches are famous amongst surfers looking for the perfect wave. Next to the lighthouse is Grettestø beach, with its enormous boulders and often superb wind and wave conditions.

John F. Kennedy sculpture Lista Lighthouse in Southern Norway

There's a lot to experience at Lista Lighthouse

Pål Hals explains that you can also hire a bike at Lista Lighthouse, either an electric bike or an ordinary one. This is because a new cycle route is set to open from Lista Lighthouse north to Varnes. 

At the lighthouse, you will also find a museum which explains the history of Lista Lighthouse. And of records, of course: At one time, there were no fewer than three lighthouses at Lista. The lighthouse station was the largest in the world at this time. 

A Mecca for art lovers

You can’t fail to notice the very special light at Lista. This light has inspired many artists over the years, in the same way as the light at Skagen in Denmark has done.

Lista Lighthouse is also a hot topic in the art world. It might look small and unassuming, but since 1987, the gallery - Kunstpunkt Lista - has housed high-class local, national and international pictorial arts and crafts. As well as other cultural events.

Species at Lista

Depending on the time of year, you can see the following species around the lighthouse:

Little auk (nests in the Arctic, but migrates past Lista in the autumn and early winter, and can be seen in their hundreds, perhaps even thousands, on good days).

Grey-headed woodpecker, black woodpecker (the largest of the woodpeckers) and several other types of woodpecker.

White-tailed eagle, rough-legged buzzard, Eurasian dotterel, red-backed shrike, parrot crossbill, Atlantic puffin, northern hawk owl (and other owl species)… and lots of other birds.

Read more about birdwatching

More experiences at Lista

More about Southern Norway

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