Birding Tour Iceland: Viking Birding


Dates and Costs

 

25 June – 03 July 2023

Price: $5,445 / £5,345 / €5,951 per person sharing, based on 6 – 8 participants.

Single Supplement: $1,440 / £1,413 / €1,574

 

 

* Please note that currency conversion is calculated in real-time, therefore is subject to slight change. Please refer back to the base price when making final payments.

 


Recommended Field Guide

(Please also read our blogs about recommended field guides for the seven continents here)


Tour Details

Duration: 9 days
Group Size: 4 – 8
Tour Start: Reykjavik
Tour End: Reykjavik


Price includes:

All accommodation (Day 1 until Day 8 as described above, or similar, may include some shared bathroom facilities)
Meals (from lunch on day 1 until breakfast on day 9)
Drinking water – please bring a refillable water bottle
Expert tour leader and guide
Birdwatching site entrance fees
Whale watching trip in Húsavík
All ground transport and tolls/taxes while on tour, including ferry trips and airport pick-up and drop-off

 

Price excludes:

International flights
Visa fees if visa required
Departure tax if required
Items of a personal nature, e.g. gifts, laundry, internet access, phone calls etc.
Any pre- or post-tour accommodation, meals, or birding/sightseeing excursions
Soft/alcoholic drinks
Personal travel insurance
Gratuities (please see our tipping guidelines blog)

Download Itinerary

Iceland: Viking Birding
June 2023

 

We look forward to welcoming you on our small-group tour to Iceland, the “Land of Ice and Fire”! Iceland sits in the North Atlantic just below the Arctic Circle at latitudes of 63o to 68o North, with the nearest land being Greenland some 180 miles (290 kilometers) away to the northwest. It is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Iceland’s capital is Reykjavik, which is a city of typical, quaint, northern European architecture and makes an excellent starting point for our Iceland tour. Reykjavik, along with its surrounding areas, contains two thirds of the island’s population and once away from these areas, there are vast expanses of open wilderness.

Iceland birding toursHarlequin Duck is one of our spectacular targets on this Iceland birdwatching trip.

 

Iceland sits some 600 miles (970 kilometers) from mainland Europe and 1,290 miles (2,070 kilometers) from mainland North America. After the United Kingdom, Iceland is Europe’s second-largest island and most of its climate is typical of the tundra regions. Two thirds of the landmass of Iceland is made up of tundra, while lakes (we will visit the impressive Lake Mývatn), stunning mountains, volcanos, lava fields, and glaciers cover the rest.

With abundant, almost constant, daylight during the middle of summer, the birds are active all day and night and despite the apparent harsh environments, there is a huge abundance of birds here during the summer months. This abundance of birds leads to quite a spectacle, particularly in terms of breeding seabirds, alcids, shorebirds, and wildfowl – many of which give excellent and close views, which makes for a true birders’ and photographers’ paradise. Some of the highlights associated with the sea and lakes on this tour include King Eider, Common Eider, Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Barrow’s Goldeneye (Iceland is the only place this species regularly occurs in Europe), Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Atlantic Puffin, Thick-billed Murre (Brünnich’s Guillemot), Black Guillemot, Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua), Arctic Tern, Red (Grey) Phalarope, Red-necked Phalarope, Black-tailed Godwit, European Golden Plover, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Northern Fulmar, Red-throated Loon (Diver), Common Loon (Great Northern Diver), and Horned (Slavonian) Grebe.

Iceland birding toursThe number of gorgeous (and tame) Red-necked Phalaropes we see on this tour is amazing!

 

More land-based highlights include Rock Ptarmigan, White-tailed Eagle, Gyrfalcon, Goldcrest, Eurasian Wren, Northern Wheatear, Red (Common) Crossbill, Common (Icelandic) Redpoll, Redwing, Common Blackbird, White Wagtail, and Snow Bunting.

Iceland birding toursRedwing is one of several common breeding passerines to grace Iceland.

 

There is also a chance of vagrant species from North America and Europe (we have found some good birds on our previous tours here, like Little Gull, Ring-necked Duck, American Wigeon, and more) which adds to the excitement of a visit to Iceland, particularly for Western Palearctic listers. The waters off Iceland contain abundant sea-life and we will take a whale watching boat trip off Húsavik looking for the seriously massive Blue Whale and Humpback Whale, a definite tour highlight, while on land we might even come across an Arctic Fox as it hunts for nesting seabirds!

Bird watching in Iceland during the summer months offers so much more than the spectacle of millions of breeding birds, during our tour we will take in some of the Earth’s greatest geological wonders. The huge forces that formed Iceland now add to its breathtaking majesty and curiosity to people the world over. The snow-capped mountains, volcanoes, staggering glaciers, huge fjords and lakes, and imperious and powerful waterfalls are all worthy of a visit in their own right. Iceland offers great accommodation, extremely friendly and welcoming people, some of the best food on any tour we run, and birds that will leave you totally exhilarated. Come and join us for a personal look at this incredible island.

If you want to add to your Arctic exploration you could combine this Iceland tour with our Finland and Norway: Taiga and Tundra Adventure and Norway: Svalbard Polar Bear Cruise tours. Joining two or three of these northern European tours together will give you a fascinating and a thoroughly memorable trip of a lifetime, with some amazing bird highlights.

 

Itinerary (9 days/8 nights)

 

Day 1. Arrival and travel to Snæfellsnes Peninsula

The tour will commence from Reykjavík-Keflavík International Airport at noon. Guests arriving in the morning will be met at the airport; if you are arriving the night (or more) before the tour we can arrange nearby accommodation for you, or if you would like to do some sightseeing in beautiful Reykjavík (you can relax after your flight at the world-famous Blue Lagoon Resort and Spa!), we can recommend hotels in Keflavik or the Reykjavik area and we can pick you up there.

Depending on arrival times there may be some optional birding near the airport, where we could get our trip lists going with species such as Common Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Eurasian Oystercatcher, European Herring Gull, Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, Snow Bunting, Arctic Tern, or Common Eider.

We will commence our exciting bird tour by heading north past the capital city of Reykjavík to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Along the way we will keep our eyes peeled for White-tailed Eagle and Gyrfalcon, which can occasionally be found along this route – and if we do see either of them, they would surely be an early trip highlight. A stop near Borgarnes and the Andakill mudflats will likely result in plenty of Common Shelduck, Northern Fulmar, and a great lunch. We will also keep our eyes peeled for any roadside pools. Sometimes these hold a great many birds, such as an Arctic Tern breeding colony, or a nesting pair of Whooper Swan, Horned (Slavonian) Grebe, or Red-throated Loon (Diver).

Overnight: Olafsvik, Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Iceland birding toursWhite-tailed Eagle is a huge bird, they can be seen on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

 

Day 2. Snæfellsnes Peninsula

We will spend the whole day birding around the western headland of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, which is a wonderful area, and we will have fun exploring the various birding spots here. Some pools near our accommodation are likely to have breeding Greylag Goose, Whooper Swan, Red-throated Loon (Diver), Arctic Tern, Red-breasted Merganser, Tufted Duck, and Common Eider. At this time of year there is also the ever-present sound of displaying shorebirds chipping and buzzing away overhead and these are likely to include Common Snipe, Common Redshank, and Eurasian Oystercatcher.

Iceland birding toursTufted Duck is a common species but is rather unique with its interesting head tuft!

 

We will have our first look at the amazing sea cliffs, where we will observe the seabird breeding colonies as we locate Thick-billed Murre (Brünnich’s Guillemot) among the large number of Common Murre (Common Guillemot), Razorbill, European Shag, and Black-legged Kittiwake. This site offers a fascinating experience, and we are sure of some great views. It is worth noting that the Rock Doves here are wild, ‘real’ ones, not just their feral cousins! While on the land above the cliffs, we have a good chance of finding Rock Ptarmigan, Northern Wheatear, Snow Bunting, and Merlin

Small harbors on the peninsula may contain Red Knot, Purple Sandpiper, Black Guillemot, Glaucous Gull, European Herring Gull, and Common Eider, though one of the main highlights here will undoubtedly be if we find the simply breathtaking Harlequin Duck. This species must rate as one of the best-looking ducks in the world, though there is some great competition across the world, and several other contenders on this tour…

Overnight: Olafsvik, Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Iceland birding toursEuropean Shag nest on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and we will be sure to look out for them here.

 

Day 3. Flatey Island

We will have an early start and drive across to Stykkisshólmur to catch the morning ferry to Flatey Island. Flatey Island is considered one of the most picturesque and scenically beautiful places in Iceland, and as soon as we arrive you will see why.

Around the docks at Stykkisshólmur we should see plenty of Common Eider, Arctic Tern, Common Murre (Guillemot), Atlantic Puffin, and loads of larids like Glaucous Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-headed Gull, and European Herring Gull, plus plenty of Black-legged Kittiwakes. From the ferry we have a chance for Manx Shearwater, Northern Gannet and Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua), though at this time of year they are just as likely to be seen cruising over fields as they are over the sea!

When we arrive at Flatey Island we will have the chance to look around for our main target, Red (Grey) Phalarope. This is one of the few places they breed in Iceland, and although the breeding area is closed during the breeding season, there is still a good chance to find them in the local area. Flatey Island also provides us with the opportunity to see the much more common and widespread, Red-necked Phalarope plus other shorebirds like European Golden Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Snipe, Dunlin, and Common Ringed Plover. This area is also great for Snow Bunting and Meadow Pipit.

From Flatey Island we will catch the afternoon ferry to Breiðafjörður and drive to Breiðavík for the night. For those keen on an evening birding session (it does not really get dark here at this time of year!) we can visit the seabird colony at Látrabjarg. Our accommodation is set in the most fantastic scenery you could imagine and is a real treat.

Overnight: Breiðavík

Iceland birding toursAtlantic Puffin is one of the most-wanted birds on the planet, they are the clowns of the bird world and on the incredible cliffs of Látrabjarg we are sure of great views.

 

Day 4. Látrabjarg and Blönduós

Today we will visit the amazing Látrabjarg, the famous bird cliffs. Here thousands of breeding seabirds mass along the cliffs, creating a huge racket as they jostle for position along the cliff face. Huge numbers of Common Murre (Guillemot) and to a lesser extent Thick-billed Murre (Brünnich’s Guillemot) and Razorbill breed alongside Black-legged Kittiwake and Black Guillemot. Glaucous Gull, European Shag, and Great Cormorant also squeeze in here among their noisy neighbors while Arctic Foxes can sometimes be found nearby looking for an easy snack.

Iceland birding toursThe sight (and sound) of hundreds of thousands of alicds whirling around us is something not to be missed and will not be forgotten.

 

Once we have taken in this spectacle, we will head for Blönduós. However, there will be the need for plenty of stops along the way, not least to check for breeding Gyrfalcon and White-tailed Eagle that can sometimes be found along the route, along with Harlequin Duck, Common Loon (Great Northern Diver), and Purple Sandpiper.

Blönduós is the halfway point of our journey eastwards. Blönduós River and Blönduós Bay both provide some great birding, with species like Common Eider and sometimes King Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, and Red-throated Loon (Diver) seen around here, along with Northern Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Dunlin, Eurasian Oystercatcher, European Golden Plover, Black-headed Gull, and Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua).

Overnight: Blönduós

 

Day 5. Blönduós and Lake Mývatn

Today we will set off early and continue east to Lake Mývatn, our base for the next two nights. Along the way we will keep our eyes peeled for roadside Harlequin Duck and Pink-footed Goose. We will then spend the rest of the day exploring this wonderful lake that is packed full of breeding ducks.

This is the center of duck habitat in Iceland and is a spectacular site. We will spend the day driving the 25 miles (40 kilometer) worth of road that circumnavigates the lake, making strategic stops in different areas preferred for different species. Over the course of the day, we will hope to find a wide range of species, including Greylag Goose, Whooper Swan, Gadwall, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Eurasian Wigeon, Harlequin Duck, Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Teal, Long-tailed Duck, Greater Scaup, and Common Scoter.

Iceland birding toursBarrow’s Goldeneye is one of the many waterfowl species we will encounter on this tour.

 

There is also a good chance for Common Loon (Great Northern Diver) and Red-throated Loon (Diver), Horned (Slavonian) Grebe, Short-eared Owl, Gyrfalcon, Merlin, Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua), Redwing, Common Redpoll, Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, European Golden Plover, Northern Wheatear, and the endemic subspecies of Eurasian Wren.

The spectacle of hundreds of Red-necked Phalaropes is sure to impress while we are birding here, and it really is an incredible sight. It is also worth keeping an eye-open for vagrants; in recent years we have found vagrant American Wigeon, Lesser Scaup, and Ring-necked Duck on the lake!

Overnight: Mývatn

Iceland birding toursThe vast amount of prey means sightings of predators are frequent such as this Short-eared Owl. Other predators we might see here include Gyrfalcon and Merlin.

 

Day 6. Lake Mývatn and Húsavík whale watching trip

We will have the morning birding around Lake Mývatn, mopping up any species we may still be looking for, or just appreciating the species we saw the previous day – there is little better than watching a myriad of baby ducks and shorebirds at close range and being amazed at how enough of them survive to keep the population going. There is also nothing cuter than a baby Barrow’s Goldeneye, except maybe a baby Red-necked Phalarope!

In the afternoon we will head north for the rest of the day to the small harbor town of Húsavík, birding along the way. Our journey takes us through yet more spectacular scenery (this is true for every day of the tour in fact!) and we might find Harlequin Duck, Rock Ptarmigan, Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua), or Short-eared Owl along the way.

On arrival at Húsavík we will take a whale watching tour into the bay. On the trip we could find Blue Whale, Humpback Whale, Killer Whale (Orca), White-sided Dolphin, and Harbor Seal. Here we will also have a chance to see plenty of Atlantic Puffins at another Flatey Island (no relation to the one we visit on Day 3!). There is also a massive Arctic Tern breeding colony here, plus Black Guillemot, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Common Redshank, Red-necked Phalarope, and Snow Bunting. Great Skua and Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua) are also found from the boat, and Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, and Common Eider are often seen here too.

Iceland birding toursDuring the breeding season, Common Loon (Great Northern Diver) is one of the most strikingly plumaged birds in the world. We will get some great views of this species during our Iceland birdwatching holiday.

 

After our boat trip we will bird some areas around the town – this is one of the best sites in Iceland to find an over-summering Iceland Gull among the European Herring Gulls and other larids. The setting also gives great photographic opportunities for birds like Arctic Tern and Northern Fulmar against a snow-capped mountain backdrop. A small lake should give us excellent views of Common Loon (Great Northern Diver) and Horned (Slavonian) Grebe as well as Black-tailed Godwit and Eurasian Whimbrel.

Overnight: Mývatn

Iceland birding toursWe will see a lot of Northern Fulmars on the tour, we will also see a lot of spectacular snow-capped mountain scenery. Put the two together and you get some fun photo opportunities!

 

Day 7. Lake Mývatn to Blönduós

We will spend a final morning around the wonderful Lake Mývatn, maybe trying to improve on our views and photographs of some of the area’s special species such as Barrow’s Goldeneye, Harlequin Duck, Red-throated Loon, and Red-necked Phalarope. We will also make sure that we have connected with all of the resident and migrant passerines that should be present during our time on the island, several of these can be found in the small, stunted woodland patches around the lake, and along our route over the next couple of days with some preferring the adjacent more-open spaces. Some of the targets will include Goldcrest (amazing how this, the smallest bird in Europe, can survive up here!), Eurasian Wren, Common Blackbird, Redwing, Northern Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Common Starling, Common (Icelandic) Redpoll, Red (Common) Crossbill, and Snow Bunting.

After lunch we will head back west towards Blönduós, where we will again spend the night to break up the journey back to Reykjavík/Keflavík. Again, we will be on the lookout for Harlequin Duck, Pink-footed Goose, Northern Raven, and Gyrfalcon along the way.

Overnight: Blönduós

Iceland birding toursEuropean Golden Plover takes spectacular to a whole other level, yet this plumage is not just for looks, it also serves tremendously well for camouflage.

 

Day 8. Blönduós to Keflavík

This morning we will continue our journey back to Keflavík. We will call in at a couple of spots for some birding along the way, such as estuaries that may contain a nice surprise such as a White-tailed Eagle, and if time permits, we can also visit Flói Nature Reserve. The reclaimed marsh/bog/estuary that exists here today is one of the best spots to see Red-throated Loon (Diver). It was saved by Fuglavernd (BirdLife Iceland), and is home to breeding shorebirds like Eurasian Whimbrel, Red-necked Phalarope, and Black-tailed Godwit, as well as to ducks like Common Merganser (Goosander), Red-breasted Merganser, Tufted Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, and Whooper Swan.

We will arrive in Keflavík in time for our farewell dinner and the tough assignment of choosing the “bird of the trip”, unsurprisingly it is never a straightforward or easy decision in Iceland!

Overnight: Keflavík

Iceland birding toursRed-throated Loon (Diver) is yet another attractive bird that can be found on the lakes and swamps across Iceland.

 

Day 9. Departure

A non-birding day. Today we transfer to Reykjavík-Keflavík International Airport for your flights home, or potentially the relatively short flight to join our Norway: Svalbard Polar Bear Cruise, where we will be looking for (as the name suggests!) Polar Bears, along with some more high-Arctic specials like Ivory Gull, Barnacle Goose, King Eider, Little Auk, Long-tailed Jaeger (Skua), Beluga Whale, Blue Whale, Walrus, Arctic Fox, and much more!

Overnight: Not included

 

 

 

Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors. In addition, we sometimes must use a different international guide from the one advertised due to tour scheduling.

 

Download Itinerary

Iceland: Viking Birding Tour Trip Report

 

17-25 June 2022

 

By Oliver Reville

 

DOWNLOAD TRIP REPORT

 

Iceland trip report 2022Northern Fulmar were ever present along the coastal regions of Iceland.

 

Overview

 

Our nine-day tour of Iceland saw us cover the entirety of the west and north of this beautiful island. Despite bad luck with the weather, which gave us only two days of ideal conditions, we were able to record 69 species, with highlights including Pink-footed Goose, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Harlequin Duck, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Short-eared Owl, Great Skua, Rock Ptarmigan, Thick-billed Murre (Brunnich’s Guillemot), Red-necked Phalarope, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Northern Wheatear, and Snow Bunting. We also enjoyed good views of Humpback Whale on our whale watching trip.

I would like to thank Steve, Peter, and Frayda for their company on this trip.

Iceland trip report 2022The timing of our tour meant many Harlequin Duck had moved to the coast, allowing us to enjoy large groups like this.

 

Detailed Report

 

Day 1, 17th June 2022. Route to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Our first day of the tour was very much a travel day as we headed up the west coast of Iceland towards the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. With inclement weather we made a couple of birding stops along the route in the remote farming areas of the west coast.

Here we saw a number of common Icelandic species including Common Redshank, Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua), Black-tailed Godwit, European Golden Plover, Whooper Swan, Arctic Tern, and Black-legged Kittiwake.

We also enjoyed some of the more special species of Iceland, including Glaucous Gull, Red-throated Loon (Red-throated Diver), and Red-necked Phalarope.

After a long day we retired to our hotel, hopeful that the following day’s weather would prove better.

Iceland trip report 2022Our first of many Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua) showed superbly in the coastal area of western Iceland.

 

Day 2, 18th June 2022. Birding Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Today we would explore the beautiful Snaefellsnes Peninsula in glorious weather. Our first stop was the striking waterfall at Kirkjufellsfoss. Not only was the scenery spectacular but we also scored our first Harlequin Duck of the tour. Continuing along the north side of the peninsula we enjoyed good views of Common Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Tufted Duck, and Greater Scaup in roadside lakes. The best was yet to come, with stunning views of no less than 27 Harlequin Duck in a roadside waterway at Kirkjufellsfoss, an amazing result. After a quick pit stop, we pulled over to check a group of gulls and enjoyed great views of impressive adult Glaucous Gulls on the cliff tops.

Continuing our drive, we came across an Arctic Tern colony at Rif before heading west to the lava fields near Svortuloft Lighthouse. The seabirds here put on a great show with Common Murre (Common Guillemot), Thick-billed Murre (Brunnich’s Guillemot), Razorbill, Black-legged Kittiwake, Northern Fulmar, and Glaucous Gull all performing well. In the lava field nearby, we had brief views of Northern Wheatear and Meadow Pipit.

We then headed to the south of the peninsula and after lunch we attempted to locate a recently seen King Eider at Stadarsveit. Sadly, we had no luck finding it but did locate a flock of Eurasian Wigeon, Black-headed Gulls, plenty more Common Eider, and had close views of Common Redshank and Eurasian Oystercatcher. On the beach distant views were had of both Grey Seal and Harbor (Common) Seal.

After a long but exciting day we headed back to our hotel for the evening.

Iceland trip report 2022The brutish, but striking, Glaucous Gull was never far away in coastal areas, with a mix of ages on show.

 

Day 3, 19th June 2022. Journey to the Westfjords, visit to Latrabjarg

Unfortunately the weather turned against us today and hastily rearranged plans meant we would drive from Snaefellsnes to the Westfjords rather than take the boat to Flatey Island. Due to the weather our journey was mostly birdless, save for four Harlequin Ducks close to the road.

After lunch, and with the weather still very poor, we headed to the seabird colony at Latrabjarg. Here we enjoyed amazing views of Atlantic Puffin and had good fly-past views of Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua), Black-legged Kittiwake, Northern Fulmar, Common Murre (Common Guillemot), Razorbill, European Shag, Great Cormorant, and Glaucous Gull.

In the carpark at the colony, we had brief views of Snow Bunting, before enjoying better views of another individual later on. Along the route back to our hotel we also had good views of Common Snipe and some of the group had brief fly-past views of our first Iceland Gull.

Iceland trip report 2022We had enjoyable encounters with the gorgeous Atlantic Puffin at Latrabjarg.

Iceland trip report 2022We felt the full force of Arctic weather during our time in Iceland. This made birding difficult but did give for some incredible photographic opportunities. Here a Northern Fulmar braves the storm in front of the mountains of northern Iceland.

 

 Day 4, 20th June 2022. Westfjords, Flatey, journey to the north coast

We started today with a drive up into the Westfjords near Dynjandiá. This wild and beautiful area is remote and vast and our first stop at a small lake gave us good views of both Long-tailed Duck and Common Loon (Great Northern Diver). We continued on to the massive Dynjandi waterfall, which was breathtaking. the nearby Arctic Tern colony was very active, with the terns keen to buzz anyone who came too close.

We next headed back to the coast to catch the boat to Flatey Island. In beautiful conditions we explored this small island with wonderful views had of Red-necked Phalarope, Snow Bunting, Northern Fulmar, Common Eider, and many other species.

After getting back to the mainland we faced a long drive through the evening to the northern part of Iceland. This was breathtaking and en route we enjoyed Rock Ptarmigan, Common Merganser, and other species under the midnight sun.

Iceland trip report 2022Snow Bunting were a real group favorite on Flatey Island, with many males singing and giving fantastic views.

 

Day 5, 21st June 2022. The north coast and Lake Myvatn

Today it was time to head to Lake Myvatn, one of Iceland’s most famous birding areas. On our journey to the lake we enjoyed great views of Pink-footed Goose near Kúskerpi and brief but enjoyable views of Short-eared Owl at Laugar.

Once at Myvatn we explored the perimeter of the lake under darkening skies. Great views were had of Barrow’s Goldeneye, Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck, Tufted Duck, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Scoter, Common Pochard, Greater Scaup, Common Loon (Great Northern Diver), and others.

Sadly we had to curtail our birding day as torrential rain arrived while searching for the highly desired Gyrfalcon.

 

Day 6, 22nd June 2022. Hverfjall and Kopasker

Poor weather once again hampered our day’s birding, as a wintery front came through from Greenland. A brief stop to look for Rock Ptarmigan near Hverfjall didn’t give us our desired species, however we did find our first Common Redpoll of the trip, which showed very well.

Moving north towards the coast some of the group had a brief Merlin flyover the car. With the weather closing in we stopped at some roadside ponds near Kópasker and had brief views of Horned Grebe (Slavonian Grebe), Red-throated Diver, and a number of Red-necked Phalarope.

A sheltered harbor at Lón-sudurhluti held Red-breasted Merganser and Common Eider, while a fly-past Great Skua was our first of the trip. Nearby a Rock Ptarmigan showed briefly and once again we enjoyed great views of Black-tailed Godwit.

After lunch the weather became progressively worse so we decided to retreat to our hotel. Along the route we had brief fly past views of Common Gull.

Iceland trip report 2022Common Redpoll was one of just a few passerines we were able to catch up with, but that made them all the more special.

 

Day 7, 23rd June 2022. Whale watching and the journey south

With poor weather once again present our planned whale watching trip had been moved to a more sheltered location. Despite this the going was very rough and only brief views of Humpback Whale were had, although one did jump clear of the water!

Bird wise, it was also relatively quiet with Black Guillemot and Parasitic Jaeger (Arctic Skua) being the highlights.

After the cold trip we made the four-hour journey south to our hotel.

Iceland trip report 2022Rock Ptarmigan proved to be an elusive species until this female on the final day, what a cracker!

 

Day 8, 24th June 2022. The Reykjanes Peninsula

Finally the sun was shining again for us, unfortunately it was accompanied by strong winds from the north, which made birding very difficult once again. Heading south we checked a few sites for some late target species, such as King Eider and White-tailed Eagle. Sadly we were unable to locate either but did add Common Shelduck to our list at Kistufjördur mud flats.

After lunch we headed to Vifilsstadavatn where we were able to observe Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Greater Scaup, Horned Grebe (Slavonian Grebe), Common Loon (Great Northern Diver), and Red-necked Phalarope.

Our final stop of the tour was the Reykjanes Peninsula. Exploring its perimeter in the strong winds proved challenging once again, however we did enjoy the Midlina Bridge (The bridge between continents) where one can see the meeting point of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

Moving to the north of the peninsula we scanned the sea and picked up our final two new birds of the tour, Northern Gannet and Manx Shearwater. The sea was very rough but was teeming with sea birds.

Finally, we explored the tundra area near the airport where a Rock Ptarmigan showed amazingly well as did a stunning adult summer-plumaged Iceland Gull, among close to 500 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Tired after another testing day with the weather we retreated to our hotel for the final evening.

 

Day 9, 25th June 2022. Departure  

This morning we departed from Keflavik Airport after an enjoyable nine days of Icelandic birding.

 

Please see the downloadable PDF above with the full species lists included. This is a sample trip report. Please email us ([email protected]) for more trip reports from this destination.

‘Our small group had a great trip birding Iceland with Andy Walker. Andy’s knowledge, tenacity, organizational skills, patience and fun personality allowed us to maximize this opportunity to see every possible bird within our range.
Because of Andy’s scientific knowledge as well as field skills I learned a great deal. His enthusiasm kept us going even when the weather attempted to dampen and freeze mine! Iceland is an awesome country and Ecotours did a great job of arranging an itinerary that provided excellent food and lodging along the way. Very well organized. I’d go with this company and guide again!’

Claudia


‘Birding with Andy through western Iceland was marvelous. He’s a wealth of birding knowledge and information, down to the most minute details of all the birds we viewed. He has tremendous patience and perseverance in locating the birds, and worked hard with each individual to make sure we were satisfied with all sightings. He kept us on track and in motion, as we passed through the vast and rugged expanses of western Iceland. He has non-stop energy and a great personality. Couldn’t ask for better.’

Kristine

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