Birds of the Midnight Sun

Knut-Sverre Horn's Image

Knut-Sverre Horn (Norway) offers a glimpse of kittiwake chicks illuminated in an abandoned factory.

From his vantage point inside an abandoned fish processing factory, Knut-Sverre kept watch on the black-legged kittiwakes tending to their chicks on the windowsill. His view depended on the light. By day, the birds were visible only in vague outline. At night, it was determined by the weather and the angle of the lingering midnight Sun.

Many times, he was foiled by fog, clouds or the birds’ behaviour. ‘They tend to rest for long periods at night,’ Knut-Sverre explains. As midnight approached, the low summer Sun struck the north-facing window, sharpening the birds’ silhouettes and giving him the image that he wanted.

Kathy Moran, Editor and Chair of the Jury, notes ‘there is a sense of living in the shadows, adapting and thriving in a human landscape that made this photograph resonate with the jury. This is what urban wildlife is all about. The photograph is also beautiful, the interplay between light and silhouette, the interaction between the adult and chicks come together to capture a wonderful moment - nature persevering.’

Kittiwakes naturally nest on the narrow ledges of high, steep coastal cliffs. Recently, numbers have plummeted and some kittiwakes have headed for urban areas - their noise and mess often unwelcome.

It’s thought that a shortage of small fish and marine invertebrates due to a warming ocean, fisheries and pollution has forced them closer to towns and cities in search of food.

Behind the lens

Knut-Sverre Horn

Knut-Sverre Horn


Knut-Sverre is a reporter for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. He’s been a bird and wildlife enthusiast for as long as he can remember, saving money for his first binoculars at age seven, getting his first SLR camera at age 12 and having his photos published in national magazines at age 14. He grew up in southern Norway but moved north 27 years ago to Vadsø in the Varanger region, well known in the birding community for its abundance of seabirds, waders and Arctic ducks, as well as quite a lot of rare vagrants.

Image details

  • Canon EOS R5
  • 24–70mm lens at 42mm
  • 1/5000 at f8  •   ISO 100
  • Vardø, Troms og Finnmark, Norway
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