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One of the highlights of the tour is the visit to Latrabjarg seabird cliff. It holds the biggest seabird colony of Iceland, with over 3 million birds. Amongst them there are 230,000 pairs of Razorbills, which is 40% of the global population. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
Birding in Iceland is such a treat! You are traveling through breathtaking landscapes with dramatic, partly clouded skies and everywhere you stop there are birds, lots of birds. Sometimes it is hard, though, to keep on scanning for birds in this stunning scenery stuffed with volcanoes, falls, glacial troughs, curious lava formations, fissures, cliffs, fjords, lakes and rivers. Nevertheless, despite of all this gorgeous "distraction", we certainly managed to find all the "must see" species of Iceland. And we also enjoyed observing the flowers, Arctic Fox, Seals and even some whales.
We had a lovely group and Field Guides did a great job in organizing the logistics, choosing the right hotels and designing the perfect itinerary. It all worked out very well. We had only comfortable and some very charming hotels. The food was delicious. The bus had plenty of space and big windows. Our bus driver, Addi, was great!
Weather-wise, we had a bit of everything; a bit of rain, wind, cold and clouds, but also some sunshine and bright blue skies, typical Icelandic weather.
We covered a big part of western and northern Iceland giving a good impression of the different habitats of this beautiful country. The domestic flight from Reykjavik to Akureyri avoids double backing which keeps the traveling enjoyable.
There were many highlights, like the rich birdlife on and around the Myvatn lake, the Gyrfalcons and the White-tailed Eagles, the alcids at the Latrabjarg seabird cliff, the close range birding from the Viking Sushi Cruise, the flocks of terns around the Arnarstappi hotel and the good weather birding at the Gardur lighthouse at the very end of the tour. But if I have to choose the best moment, I go for that observation of Rock Ptarmigan on top of a lava rock formation at the Budir church. Gosh, we did struggle to see that grouse! Thank goodness, what a relief for the guide when we finally found it :-)
I am looking forward to seeing you again in the near future, maybe in Spain or Holland?
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
Overfishing, hunting and pollution are putting pressure on the Atlantic Puffin population, but climate change may prove to be the biggest challenge. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
GRAYLAG GOOSE (EUROPEAN) (Anser anser anser) [N]
PINK-FOOTED GOOSE (Anser brachyrhynchus) [N]
WHOOPER SWAN (Cygnus cygnus) [N]
COMMON SHELDUCK (Tadorna tadorna) [N]
GADWALL (Mareca strepera)
EURASIAN WIGEON (Mareca penelope) [N]
The favorite prey of the Black Guillemot is the Butterfish. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
AMERICAN WIGEON (Mareca americana)
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos) [N]
NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta)
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (EURASIAN) (Anas crecca crecca)
TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula) [N]
GREATER SCAUP (Aythya marila)
We heard the Black-legged Kittiwake making the "kittiwake" call. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
KING EIDER (Somateria spectabilis)
COMMON EIDER (NORTHERN) (Somateria mollissima borealis) [N]
HARLEQUIN DUCK (Histrionicus histrionicus histrionicus) [N]
LONG-TAILED DUCK (Clangula hyemalis)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (Bucephala clangula)
BARROW'S GOLDENEYE (Bucephala islandica) [N]
The Common Eider is abundant but very shy. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (Mergus serrator)
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
ROCK PTARMIGAN (Lagopus muta islandorum)
RED-THROATED LOON (Gavia stellata)
COMMON LOON (Gavia immer)
HORNED GREBE (Podiceps auritus auritus)
Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)
NORTHERN FULMAR (Fulmarus glacialis) [N]
We saw this very obliging Short-eared Owl in the remote northeast of Iceland. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
MANX SHEARWATER (Puffinus puffinus)
EUROPEAN STORM-PETREL (BRITISH) (Hydrobates pelagicus pelagicus)
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
NORTHERN GANNET (Morus bassanus)
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
GREAT CORMORANT (NORTH ATLANTIC) (Phalacrocorax carbo carbo)
EUROPEAN SHAG (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) [N]
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
WHITE-TAILED EAGLE (Haliaeetus albicilla)
EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER (WESTERN) (Haematopus ostralegus ostralegus) [N]
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
EUROPEAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis apricaria altifrons) [N]
NORTHERN LAPWING (Vanellus vanellus)
COMMON RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius hiaticula hiaticula) [N]
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (EUROPEAN) (Numenius phaeopus phaeopus)
The Meadow Pipit is a good example of a LBJ, but when seen at close range it´s rather pretty. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (ISLANDICA) (Limosa limosa islandica) [N]
RUDDY TURNSTONE (Arenaria interpres)
SANDERLING (Calidris alba)
DUNLIN (SCHINZII) (Calidris alpina schinzii)
PURPLE SANDPIPER (Calidris maritima) [N]
COMMON SNIPE (Gallinago gallinago gallinago) [N]
The baby Barrow´s Goldeneyes are so cute! Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus lobatus) [N]
COMMON REDSHANK (Tringa totanus robusta) [N]
Stercorariidae (Skuas and Jaegers)
GREAT SKUA (Stercorarius skua)
PARASITIC JAEGER (Stercorarius parasiticus) [N]
Alcidae (Auks, Murres, and Puffins)
COMMON MURRE (Uria aalge) [N]
THICK-BILLED MURRE (Uria lomvia) [N]
RAZORBILL (Alca torda) [N]
We found one beautiful drake King Eider. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
BLACK GUILLEMOT (GRYLLE GROUP) (Cepphus grylle islandicus) [N]
ATLANTIC PUFFIN (Fratercula arctica naumanni) [N]
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE (TRIDACTYLA) (Rissa tridactyla tridactyla) [N]
BLACK-HEADED GULL (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) [N]
MEW GULL (EUROPEAN) (Larus canus canus)
HERRING GULL (EUROPEAN) (Larus argentatus argenteus)
We encountered many pairs of Whooper Swan scattered around the Icelandic landscape. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
ICELAND GULL (GLAUCOIDES) (Larus glaucoides glaucoides)
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (GRAELLSII) (Larus fuscus graellsii)
GLAUCOUS GULL (Larus hyperboreus leuceretes) [N]
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus marinus)
BLACK TERN (Chlidonias niger)
ARCTIC TERN (Sterna paradisaea) [N]
This Northern Wheatear was hovering in order to find and catch insects to feed the young. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)
SHORT-EARED OWL (NORTHERN) (Asio flammeus flammeus)
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
MERLIN (EURASIAN) (Falco columbarius subaesalon)
GYRFALCON (Falco rusticolus)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax varius)
EURASIAN WREN (ICELAND) (Troglodytes troglodytes islandicus)
GOLDCREST (Regulus regulus)
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
NORTHERN WHEATEAR (GREENLAND) (Oenanthe oenanthe leucorhoa) [N]
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
EURASIAN BLACKBIRD (Turdus merula merula)
REDWING (ICELANDIC) (Turdus iliacus coburni) [N]
The Greater Scaup is very common in Iceland. Photo by guide Godfried Schreur.
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris)
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
WHITE WAGTAIL (WHITE-FACED) (Motacilla alba alba) [N]
MEADOW PIPIT (Anthus pratensis whistleri) [N]
Calcariidae (Longspurs and Snow Buntings)
SNOW BUNTING (Plectrophenax nivalis insulae) [N]
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
COMMON REDPOLL (ROSTRATA) (Acanthis flammea islandica)
OLD WORLD RABBIT (Oryctolagus cuniculus)
ORCA (Orcinus orca)
COMMON MINKE WHALE (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
ARCTIC FOX (Alopex lagopus)
HARBOR SEAL (Phoca vitulina)
GRAY SEAL (Halichoerus grypus)
Totals for the tour: 75 bird taxa and 6 mammal taxa