Gnaggen, Sweden

Gnäggen barely protrudes above the waters of the Gulf of Bothnia, and but for the scattering of willow, rowan and aspen trees that try to grow in the cracks between the rocks, one could be forgiven for thinking that the whole island is regularly wave-washed. In fact this dolerite speck a few kilometres off the Swedish coast was smoothed by the action of ice sheets during the last Ice Age, and like many of the land forms in the region has been rebounding upwards since the great weight of ice melted away.
The fascinating geology can be easily overlooked however, as the island is most well-known as a bird reserve. The coves and inlets echo to the less than melodious braying of members of the Alcid family, like Razorbills and Common Guillemots. These heavyset birds are instantly recognisable as the “penguins of the north” though they retain the ability to fly, albeit in a lumbering manner.
Exploring the coastline, your eyes will pick out ledges overflowing with the messy guano and seaweed nests of Great Cormorants while your ears hear high-pitched squeaks from deep crevices, where the strikingly handsome Black Guillemots make their home (how those naming the bird omitted mention of the blood red legs is a mystery).
Such seabird treasure naturally attracts pirates. Loitering on prominent rocks are the bulky Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls. With their piercing intense eyes and formidable beaks any unattended egg or chick will be mercilessly dealt with. Nature can be raw along the High Coast of Sweden.

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