Published: November 1st 2011October 28th 2011
Iceland is a birdwatcher's paradise. Not because there are so many different types of birds, but because there are so many individuals in each of the species that nest in this island. Only about 74-80 types of birds nest in the country.
June 2011 I had five people interested in a birdwatching tour, not many but a perfect group. We started the tour on June 1 in Snaefell peninsula, western part of Iceland. It was cold! Colder than in an average year. Still, we were prepared for all kinds of weather and at least it didn't rain and no wind either. On our first day we spotted several types of seabirds. The cliffs in this part of Iceland are spectacular, holes in the ground and the sea kind of erupts up these holes when there's a strong wind. No wind and to look at the birds sitting in the cliffs of the holes, happy birds. Fulmars kissing. A lot of folklore is connected to this part of the country, this area is known for being energy giving, so to say. But no time to explore the nature thoroughly as we had a boat to catch at 3 o'clock so on
we went to the town of Stykkisholmur. Here we took a boat over to the island of Flatey - the name is most likely of Irish origin and means the main island. Numerous islands are on the bay, small most of them. The folklore has a very nice explanation of why there are so many islands.
After dinner in the very nice little hotel in the island we all went out to explore how many birds we could see here. The oyster catcher nests beside the hotel and didn't even move when we walked past. The red phalarobes were sitting on a little pond, knowing we'd not hurt them they didn't move either. Snowbuntings and eider ducks were all around. In the cliffs on the northern part of the island we spotted more seabirds, the island is like a large bird-city and all of them getting on so well.
The day after we set off early in the morning, took a look at the tiny church in the island with the beautiful paintings. Then we walked around the island, a lot more birds to see. In the afternoon we took the boat back to the mainland, to Stykkisholmur again. The
number of birds we had seen those two days of the tour were 30 different types.
June 3 was not a birdwatching day, more like a nature exploring and folklore telling on our way to the northern part of Iceland. We saw a cliff that looks like a dragon drinking from the sea, among other things. This evening our accommodation is in small cabins at Holar, which used to be a bishopric for years. The birds sung us a lullaby . . .
June 4 we drove on further north, took some time to look at the capital of this area, Akureyri. Pretty town with a most interesting botanical garden. Then over to Myvatn, every birder's dream. We all went out late that evening to look at the pseudocraters beside our hotel and before we knew this evening walk took 2-3 hours. All the beautiful birds! The grebes, the great northern diver, the loon - so many birds all around. One birds we didn't see though, the harlequin duck.
June 5 we decided to see less of birds and do nature exploring. The powermost waterfall in Europe is only 45 min. drive away from our hotel, a bit muddy but
amazingly pretty where it falls into a canyon it has dug through the ages. Another pretty fall is here too but not as tremendously powerful. Selfoss the name of that one is. We did some trekking to the mudpools as well as the area which erupted back in 1985 and some steam is still to be seen. The afternoon we relaxed in the natural baths, the Earthbaths before going back to our hotel.
June 6, time to go back to Reykjavik with a few stops. One of my favourite waterfalls is called Glanni - the speedy-fall. We were not expecting to see any birds today but as we came to this waterfall a pair of harlequin ducks in love were in front of us - it made our day and was a perfect end of a trip for birders and nature lovers.
There are more photos below