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The Atlantic Puffin was the best bird of the trip! (photo by guide Godfried Schreur).
We love Iceland!
Eric Hynes did a fantastic job setting up the itinerary for the Field Guides Birding tour through Iceland. Our route included the main highlights for birding on this fascinating island. The Myvatn lake' with thousands of ducks like Barrow's Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck and Eurasian Wigeon, also harbors the best population of Gyrfalcons. The Breidafjordur is the place to be for spotting White-tailed Eagles, Glaucous Gulls and European Shags. Nowhere else can you see the Atlantic Puffins so close-by as in Latrabjarg, the majestic cliff with 3 million breeding seabirds at the most western point of Europe. This is a bonus that not many tour companies offer. The itinerary also features the most attractive landscapes of Iceland with wonderful fjords, lava fields, estuaries, volcanoes, icecaps, glacial valleys and rivers and 2 of the best waterfalls, the Godafoss and the Dettifoss. The latter is the most powerful fall of Europe. It is true that there was quite a lot of driving involved in this tour, but driving through Iceland´s volcanic and glacial scenery was always fascinating, although we would have liked to stop after every bend for a picture of another beautiful setting. Landscape-wise the Snaefellsnes Peninsula was something outstanding with the Kirkjufell (Church Mountain) and the the almost magical Snaefellsjokul volcano on the background.
Tour manager Christine Boilard and our ground agent did an excellent job by lining up all the logistics in the right direction. It all worked out perfectly. And I did my best as your guide, aiming to stop at the best sites, spotting the birds, pointing them out to you, focusing the telescope on the most interesting species, giving the opportunity to enjoy the birds and the scenery and get the timing right for a pleasant and comfortable Iceland experience.
Add to this the good hotels, the superb food in fancy restaurants, the comfortable bus and excellent driver, the domestic flight from Reykjavik to Akureyri, we managed to provide all the ingredients for a superb tour, and so it was. The only factor we cannot influence is the weather, but this year we were very fortunate with a lot of sunshine and clear skies.
The Atlantic Puffin was elected the best bird of the trip. Not surprising, since we could almost touch these cute penguin-like birds with their colorful bills. The Harlequin Duck and the King Eider ended as second and third best in the vote. But the White-tailed Eagle and the graceful Arctic Tern were also amongst the highlights of our tour.
We saw (almost) all the important species very well, 73 bird taxa in total. Have a look at the illustrated trip list!
To finish, we saw a lot of good birds, we had wonderful photographic opportunities, we enjoyed the scenery and the Icelandic cuisine. And, not unimportantly, we enjoyed each other's company very much, because we all together made this Iceland trip into a fantastic experience. We all contributed to this tour in our own way, some by sharing interesting information, some with a good sense of humor, some with excellent spotting skills, some by the eBirding and some with entertaining conversations during dinner. I thoroughly enjoyed our Iceland adventure and I therefor want to thank you all.
Looking forward to welcoming you on another awesome Field Guides tour!
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
This Snow Goose was a surprise, being a vagrant from Greenland and NE Canada (photo by guide Godfried Schreur).
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
SNOW GOOSE (Anser caerulescens)
GRAYLAG GOOSE (EUROPEAN) (Anser anser anser) [N]
PINK-FOOTED GOOSE (Anser brachyrhynchus) [N]
WHOOPER SWAN (Cygnus cygnus) [N]
Common Shelduck with ducklings. (photo by guide Godfried Schreur).
COMMON SHELDUCK (Tadorna tadorna) [N]
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)
GADWALL (Mareca strepera)
A very obliging female Eurasian Wigeon allowed close-ups of herself and her family. (photo by participant Kathleen Keef).
EURASIAN WIGEON (Mareca penelope) [N]
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta)
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (EURASIAN) (Anas crecca crecca)
TUFTED DUCK (Aythya fuligula) [N]
GREATER SCAUP (Aythya marila)
KING EIDER (Somateria spectabilis)
A mixed group of Harlequin Duck, Common Eider and one drake King Eider moved up and down on the waves of the sea at the coast of Blonduos. (photo by guide Godfried Schreur).
COMMON EIDER (NORTHERN) (Somateria mollissima borealis) [N]
HARLEQUIN DUCK (Histrionicus histrionicus)
COMMON SCOTER (Melanitta nigra)
LONG-TAILED DUCK (Clangula hyemalis)
BARROW'S GOLDENEYE (Bucephala islandica)
COMMON MERGANSER (EURASIAN) (Mergus merganser merganser)
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER (Mergus serrator)
We enormously enjoyed watching this family of Rock Ptarmigan close to the Godafoss. Participant Kathleen Keef made this beautiful portrait of the female with one of the chicks.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
ROCK PTARMIGAN (Lagopus muta islandorum) [N]
HORNED GREBE (Podiceps auritus auritus) [N]
The baby Horned Grebe sitting on the back of mama grebe and being fed by papa grebe was one of the sweetest moments of the tour. (photo by participant Kathleen Keef).
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia)
EURASIAN OYSTERCATCHER (WESTERN) (Haematopus ostralegus ostralegus) [N]
This banded Eurasian Oystercatcher was ringed one year before as an adult bird at exactly the same place where we saw it (photo by guide Godfried Schreur).
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
EUROPEAN GOLDEN-PLOVER (Pluvialis apricaria altifrons) [N]
COMMON RINGED PLOVER (Charadrius hiaticula hiaticula) [N]
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (EUROPEAN) (Numenius phaeopus phaeopus) [N]
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT (ISLANDICA) (Limosa limosa islandica) [N]
The close view of the Icelandic subspecies of the Black-tailed Godwit was another highlight of the tour (photo by guide Godfried Schreur).
SANDERLING (Calidris alba)
DUNLIN (SCHINZII) (Calidris alpina schinzii)
PURPLE SANDPIPER (Calidris maritima)
COMMON SNIPE (Gallinago gallinago gallinago) [N]
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (Phalaropus lobatus) [N]
COMMON REDSHANK (Tringa totanus robusta) [N]
Stercorariidae (Skuas and Jaegers)
GREAT SKUA (Stercorarius skua)
PARASITIC JAEGER (Stercorarius parasiticus)
Here is a great picture of the bridled variety of the Common Murre (photo by participant Carol Adair).
Alcidae (Auks, Murres, and Puffins)
COMMON MURRE (Uria aalge) [N]
THICK-BILLED MURRE (Uria lomvia) [N]
RAZORBILL (Alca torda) [N]
The Black Guillemot breeds in holes and crevices in rocks, between stones and under driftwood at the shallow shores of Iceland (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)
ICELAND GULL (GLAUCOIDES) (Larus glaucoides glaucoides)
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL (GRAELLSII) (Larus fuscus graellsii)
This adult Glaucous Gull in flight proves that gulls can be good looking as well (photo by guide Godfried Schreur).
GLAUCOUS GULL (Larus hyperboreus leuceretes)
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULL (Larus marinus) [N]
ARCTIC TERN (Sterna paradisaea) [N]
RED-THROATED LOON (Gavia stellata) [N]
A family of Common Loon at the Myvatn lake. Awesome! (photo by participant Kathleen Keef).
COMMON LOON (Gavia immer) [N]
Procellariidae (Shearwaters and Petrels)
NORTHERN FULMAR (Fulmarus glacialis) [N]
MANX SHEARWATER (Puffinus puffinus)
Sulidae (Boobies and Gannets)
NORTHERN GANNET (Morus bassanus)
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
GREAT CORMORANT (NORTH ATLANTIC) (Phalacrocorax carbo carbo)
The eyes of the European Shag are turquoise blueish-green (photo by participant Kathleen Keef).
EUROPEAN SHAG (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) [N]
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
WHITE-TAILED EAGLE (Haliaeetus albicilla) [N]
SHORT-EARED OWL (NORTHERN) (Asio flammeus flammeus)
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
MERLIN (EURASIAN) (Falco columbarius subaesalon) [N]
We discovered this 2nd cy Gyrfalcon on a pilon next to the Nº 1 road. We made a u-turn in order to have a better look (photo by guide Godfried Schreur).
GYRFALCON (Falco rusticolus) [N]
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax varius)
EURASIAN WREN (ICELAND) (Troglodytes troglodytes islandicus) [*]
Muscicapidae (Old World Flycatchers)
NORTHERN WHEATEAR (GREENLAND) (Oenanthe oenanthe leucorhoa) [N]
We had fantastic views of Redwing almost every day (photo by participant Carol Adair).
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
REDWING (ICELANDIC) (Turdus iliacus coburni) [N]
EURASIAN BLACKBIRD (Turdus merula merula)
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris)
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
WHITE WAGTAIL (WHITE-FACED) (Motacilla alba alba) [N]
MEADOW PIPIT (Anthus pratensis whistleri) [N]
This male Brambling was singing away in a park close to Akureyri but he didn´t show very well. Participant Kathleen Keef did very well indeed by shooting a great picture of this vagrant finch.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
BRAMBLING (Fringilla montifringilla)
COMMON REDPOLL (ROSTRATA/ISLANDICA) (Acanthis flammea islandica)
The Snow Bunting often occurs close to houses and in villages. Maybe they feel safer there, as the predators avoid human presence (photo by guide Godfried Schreur).
Calcariidae (Longspurs and Snow Buntings)
SNOW BUNTING (Plectrophenax nivalis insulae) [N]
The Viking Sushi Cruise on the Breidafjordur is good fun, with excellent birding and fresh seafood. Here is a group picture on the boat (photo by guide Godfried Schreur).
WHITE-BEAKED DOLPHIN (Lagenorhynchus albirostris)
ARCTIC FOX (Alopex lagopus)
HARBOR SEAL (Phoca vitulina)
GRAY SEAL (Halichoerus grypus)
Totals for the tour: 73 bird taxa and 4 mammal taxa