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Post Info TOPIC: Iceland.


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RE: Iceland.


And a few more

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It wasnt letting me load any photos at the end of my post, so Ill attach a few here hopefully.

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Iceland Trip Report

1-15 June 2023

Route and Locations Stayed :-

Thursday 1 June Borgarnes
Friday 2 June Stykkisholmur
Saturday 3 June Stykkisholmur
Sunday 4 June Hvammstangi
Monday 5 June Akureyri
Tuesday 6 June Reykjahlid (Myvatn)
Wednesday 7 June Reykjahlid
Thursday 8 June Reykjahlid
Friday 9 June Husavik
Saturday10 June Husavik
Sunday 11 June Blönduos
Monday12 June Borgarnes
Tuesday 13 June Reykjavik
Wednesday 14 June Reykjavik
Thursday 15 June Flight Home

Main Areas Birded :-

Borgarnes - Mudflats and shoreline, south east of the town
Borgarnes - Myrar, extensive low lying farmland, north west of the town
Flatey - Small bird rich island, 2.5 hrs out into the Breidafjördur (fjord)
Stykkisholmur - A base for exploring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Hvammstangi - Hillside behind the town
Akureyri - Vaglaskogur Forest, whilst en route to Myvatn
Myvatn - Large lake with innumerable inlets, Icelands premier inland birding site
Husavik - Skalfandi Bay, whale watching trip out from the town
Husavik - Tjörnes, a tarn just south of the town
Husavik - Cliffs 25km north of the town
Blönduos - River upstream of the town and below the main bridge where it enters the sea, a hide here
Gardur - South west tip of Iceland beyond Keflavik Airport, rocky shoreline
Reykjavik - Tjörnin Pond in city centre and a couple of tarns near the golf course

There are innumerable lakes, of all sizes and tarns by the roadsides and we stopped at any that looked interesting. The vistas are absolutely stunning, at times you can see for miles with a backdrop of snow capped peaks, there are low lying farmland areas with beautiful estuaries, areas of volcanic activity and areas of woodland, mainly conifer and birch. Apart from the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, we stuck more or less to Route 1 which is all tarmac but getting back to Route 1 from this area, we encountered two quite long gravel roads and on the second of which, we suffered a puncture.

Special mention for the two premier birding hotspots, Flatey and Myvatn. Essential stops on any tour of the country. Flatey is 2.5 miles out into the aforementioned fjord, only some one mile or so in length. The main reason for visiting is the sheer number of Red-necked Phalarope and also the possibility of seeing summer plumaged Red/Grey Phalarope, in addition to the number of auks and White-tailed Eagle (on the sea crossing). Around Flatey are a myriad of tiny islets.

Myvatn is a large lake in the north east of the country and holds good numbers of wildfowl, divers and grebes. The Laxa River, which flows out of the lake is probably the easiest spring/summer spot to get both Harlequin Duck and Barrows Goldeneye on your list. Several Great Northern Diver were seen here and, whilst Red-throated Diver are present, I didnt see any.

Whilst some of the very keen bird tour companies could, with luck, clock up to around 80 species, most companies seem to get in the early 70s. I was with Mrs J who isnt a birder so, with this in mind I had set myself a target of around 70. I ended up with 72 which I was pleased enough with despite missing out on Gyr Falcon, Merlin and Purple Sandpiper. I did, however, get Goldcrest which is easier said than done.

An essential book for anyone thinking of visiting the country is the Crossbill Guides to Iceland. In addition to an absolute wealth of information on birds, it also covers other flora and fauna, geology, climate, landscapes etc etc.

Trip List :-

Greylag Goose
Pink-footed Goose
Brent Goose
Canada Goose
Whooper Swan
Shelduck
Gadwall
Wigeon
Mallard
Pintail
Eurasian Teal
Pochard
Tufted Duck
Greater Scaup
Eider
Harlequin Duck
Common Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Barrows Goldeneye
Goosander
Red-breasted Merganser
Ptarmigan
Slavonian Grebe
Rock Pigeon
Oystercatcher
Golden Plover
Ringed Plover
Whimbrel
Black-tailed Godwit
Turnstone
Knot
Sanderling
Dunlin
Snipe
Red-necked Phalarope
Grey Phalarope
Redshank
Great Skua
Arctic Skua
Guillemot
Brünnichs Guillemot
Razorbill
Black Guillemot
Puffin
Kittiwake
Black-headed Gull
Common Gull
Herring Gull
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Glaucous Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Arctic Tern
Red-throated Diver
Great Northern Diver
Fulmar
Manx Shearwater
Gannet
Cormorant
Shag
White-tailed Eagle
Short-eared Owl
Raven
Goldcrest
Wren
Starling
Redwing
Blackbird
White Wagtail
Meadow Pipit
Common Redpoll
Snow Bunting



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Reykjavik City Break - Tues 31 December 2019 to Fri 3 January 2020.

We arrived at our hotel just after dinner time on Tuesday. The hotel was handily placed on Sæbraut which is on the front and roughly one mile east of the harbour. With the others being non birders, it was a case of doing whatever I could, whenever I could. A walk along the front to the harbour and the first white wingers were seen with several Iceland Gull and two Glaucous, although the latter were first winter birds. There were good numbers of Eider, with around fifty being noted, there were also plenty of Black-headed Gull, two Great Black-backed Gull and a single Herring Gull. Two each of Cormorant and Shag were also seen. The weather had been cold and wet but at least it had stopped raining for the bulk of our walk.

The next day, Wednesday, started with rain, progressed to sleet, then a bit of hail before it started snowing. We again walked along the front towards the harbour, seeing the same birds as previously and also adding a first winter Black Guillemot. We veered off towards the city centre and, leaving the others in a pub, I headed to Tjörnin Pond. A good three quarters of it was frozen with the open water being at the northern end, where folk were feeding the throng of birds just beyond the perimeter wall. Here were around eighty Whooper Swan, sixty Greylag Goose with one Pink-footed Goose amongst them. Also, a few each of Eurasian Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Mallard, one hundred plus Black-headed Gull, around twenty Common Gull and an Iceland Gull. I walked a full circuit of the Pond. It's called "pond" but it's really a small lake. Just outside the pub, in an area of trees and shrubs were a few Starling and several Redwing.

On Thursday, the wind changed direction, coming from the north. It had been snowing since Wednesday evening and continued to do so for most of the morning. It was just below freezing but with the windchill, it felt like minus ten or so. We did the Golden Circle Tour by coach, which takes you to Thingvellir National Park, first stop being at Thingvallavatn which is the largest lake in the country. I was hopeful here of seeing Barrow's Goldeneye but it was blowing a hooley and absolutely bitter in the biting wind. The lake was a good quarter of a mile from where the coaches dropped you off, so reluctantly, I gave the walk to the lake a miss. As a consolation, I had three Snow Bunting flying alongside our coach a couple of miles north of the lake. Everywhere was white over, the sun had come out for the first time, there was some blue sky and the light improved dramatically. The next stop was in a lightly wooded area some fifteen miles east where there is a famous geyser. This afforded the last birding of the trip as around eight Common Redpoll flew over the visitor centre towards the woodland. Several Raven had been seen both today and on Tuesday.

I finished on 23 species for the trip, not too bad for two and a half days in winter, mainly in a city centre. Also a good taster for a further visit in summer.



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The missus and I have always fancied going to Iceland and because its an incredibly expensive country,decide to go on a cruise there which worked out a lot cheaper than doing it independently and also gave us plenty of time at sea to look for sea birds and cetaceans.
We sailed through the passage between Skye and the Hebs on the way out and saw 2 Minke Whales,3 big pods of Common Dolphins,2 Harbour Porpoise and bird wise thousands of Puffins,Gannets and Auks,plus a few Fulmar,Manx Shearwaters ,5 Great Skuas and a single Storm Petrel.
We spent several days sailing to various ports around Iceland and from the ship saw numerous Fulmars,Kittiwakes,Auks,Gannets,literally thousands of Puffins(seemed to be the most numerous seabird),few Great and Arctic Skuas and after searching through masses of Auks finally managed to get decent views of 3 Brunnich's Guillemots.Whilst sailing down one of the fjords we saw 5 Humpback Whales on the way in and coming out had 9 Humpbacks and a Minke Whale right next to the boat.
On our land excursions we saw numerous Redwings which were carrying food for young,and within 100 yds of each settlement we visited there were Snipe drumming every few yards plus lots of Redshank,Black Tailed Godwits and 1000s of Arctic Terns which already had nearly fledged young.
We visited a large lake which had numerous breeding species inc. Red Necked Phalaropes,Wigeon,Tufted Duck,Long Tailed Duck,Scaup,Barrows Goldeneye,Whooper Swans,Slavonian Grebes etc,and around the general area of the lake,Golden Plover,Turnstone,Oystercatchers ,Redpoll and a single Snow Bunting.Elsewhere at a lagoon we saw 3 Harlequin Duck inc. a stonking male,and Red Throated and Great Northern Divers inc 2 Great Northerns in full summer plumage that were that so close I could clearly see their red eye through my bins.
In every port there were rafts of Eiders,many with half grown young,and usually a few Ravens about,the only corvid we saw.On the eastern side of Iceland the gulls were predominantly Herring Gulls,on the n.w. corner 95% were Glaucous Gulls,with a few Glaucous/Herring Gull hybrids,whereas on the s.w. corner mainly Lesser Black Back Gulls(of the race graellsi,the same ones we get,but these winter on the eastern seaboard of America.Also plenty of Black Headed Gulls and a few Greater Black Backs in most places.
On the way back home on the Atlantic side of the Hebs we saw another 3 pods of Dolphin,2 Minke Whales(both breaching),plus a number of Gannets,Puffins,Fulmars,Kittiwakes and a few Great Skuas.
.




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Wednesday 11th-Sunday 15th April 2018

A family holiday so most sightings are casual. We stayed in a log cabin on a farm in a fairly remote area in the southwest with the closest town being Reykholt but a good base for exploring many of the main sights of this stunning country such as Gulfoss, Geysir, Thingvellir and the South plus easily reached from Reykjavík. Spring was only just in its infancy. Weather was mixed with temperatures around 8C. Not a massive variety (only 27 species seen). No opportunity to track down specialitys eg Harlequin, Gyr Falcon etc!

The main story bird wise were the Pink-footed Geese and Whooper Swans that had just begun returning to the island in big numbers. There were thousands of geese in the area with many Greylags and a few Barnacle Geese mixed in. We even saw a few small flicks arriving off the sea and making noisy touchdown in the coastal fields. The geese spend few weeks in the south before moving to breeding grounds in the highlands when the conditions improve.

The Whooper Swans seemed to be already paired up and even the smallest ponds often had them.

The other main story were Redwings. They were absolutely everywhere and in full song. Around our cabin there were territorial fights and they even sang after dark! It was interesting to see the darker more heavily streamed plumage of the Icelandic race compared to the less darkly marked Scandinavian race we are probably more familiar with in GM. Ill certainly be studying Redwings more closely next winter to see if there are any Icelandic race birds mixed in.

The main day for birds and wildlife was Friday 13th (!!!) April with a 3 hour whale watching trip out of Reykjavík. Huge numbers of Fulmars were the commonest seabird (many also seen on breeding cliffs around the whole SW coast - a big colony at Vik), a good number of Puffins, Gannets, Kittiwakes, BH, LBB, GBB and a few Glaucous Gulls. Also a big flock of Eiders with a few Long-tailed Ducks mixed in. Reykjavík harbour also had Eiders. Cetacean sightings were 5-6 Minke Whales, including 1 surfacing alongside the boat, and a pod of Harbour Porpoises.

Other notable sightings included numerous Snipe in display flight as we drove around, Oystercatcher, a few Golden Plover and many Ravens.

One intriguing sighting was of a smallish falcon (unfortunately not Gyr!) which I was certain at the time was a Kestrel. But with further research it appears Kestrel dont occur in Iceland! It was most probably a Merlin.

Species list:
Pink-footed Geese
Greylag Geese
Barnacle Geese
Whooper Swan
Eider
Long-tailed Duck
Mallard
Scaup - pair on a small lake
Wigeon
Gannet
Puffin
Fulmar
Great Black-backed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Glaucous Gull - various ages
Black-headed Gull
Kittiwake
Cormorant
Oystercatcher
Golden Plover
Snipe
Redwing
Starling - a few in Reykjavik
Raven
Ptarmigan- quite common a found at low levels often seen flying over the road. 2 very obliging birds at Thingvellir.
Merlin






-- Edited by Steven Nelson on Tuesday 17th of April 2018 10:37:07 PM

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Just returned from a research trip to Iceland. Had some cracking birds and some cracking weather!!

Saw 47 species in total, a few lists below.

29th July - Lake Myvatn area.

Merlin, Meadow Pipit, Redwing, Arctic Tern, c250 Barrows Goldeneye, Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Red Throated Diver, Arctic Skua, Redshank, Black Tailed Godwit, 10 Ptarmigan, Great Northern Diver, Whooper Swan, Red Breasted Merganser, Snipe, Teal, Pied Wagtail, Fulmar, Wigeon, Common Scoter, Garganey, Slavonian Grebe.

30th July - Ljosavatn.

Oystercatcher, Common Gull, Tufted Duck, Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Meadow Pipit, Redwing, Golden Plover, Whimbrel, Redshank, Snipe, Teal, Fulmar, Slavonian Grebe, Gyr Falcon.

01th August - Bjorg.

4 Raven, Red Necked Phalorope - (Dancing around our feet, whilst we were catching Whooper Swans!) biggrin.gif, Kittiwake, Gyr Falcon, Whooper Swan, Common Scoter, Fulmer, Arctic Skua, Snipe, Dunlin, LBBG, GBBG, 4 Wheater, Black Guillimot, Redshank, Purple Sandpiper, Harlequin Duck Redwing and Meadow Pipit.

03rd August - Akureyri

Redwing, Redpoll, Goldcrest, Pinkfooted Goose, Raven and Oystercatcher.

Kane smile.gif

-- Edited by Kane Brides at 08:39, 2008-08-05

-- Edited by Kane Brides at 13:00, 2008-08-05

-- Edited by Kane Brides at 13:33, 2008-08-05

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