Iceland - Land of Fire & Ice
Wednesday 25th June – Wednesday 2nd July 2014
Our 8 day summer birdwatching tour to Iceland goes in search of sought after species such as the mighty Gyr Falcon, Harlequin Duck and Barrow's Goldeneye. Amongst some of the most dramitic landscapes in Europe we will of course search out many other species including Rock Ptarmigan, White-tailed Eagle, tame Red-necked Phalaropes, Seacliffs packed with birds including Puffins and Brunnich's Guillemots, and even a boat trip where we can see Whales and Dolphins. Still in the making this new Continent offers so much. Ice-capped peaks, Geysers, spectacular waterfalls and glaciers all amongst a most impressive volcanic landscape. It is this landscape and setting that make for a wonderful birdwatching tour. Although not a huge list of birds we should be able to spend time enjoying all we see. Shorebirds will all be in smart breeding colours and Arctic Tern colony's will astound, while flocks of Pink-footed Geese and gorgeous Snow Buntings vie for photographs. We may find the dainty Arctic Fox patrolling the seabird cliffs and botanists will be able to search for arctic Flora. Join us on a fabulous tour to the land of Ice and Fire!
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Day 3 Snæfellsnes - Akureyri – 27th June
It’s a travelling day aBrunnicks-Guillemot-by-Steve Birds we head northwards towards Akureyri and Eyjafjörður across the wonderful landscapes of west and north Iceland. We’ll look out for White-tailed Eagles as we leave Snæfellsnes and will make several stops as we travel, including Hrútafjörður where we’ll do some coastal birding and hope for Great Northern Diver and Blönduós for gulls and waders. As we travel we will watch out for Pink-footed Geese and Slavonian Grebes as well. We’ll reach Akureyri in the late afternoon and settle into our comfortable guesthouse overlooking the magnificent scenery of this part of northern Iceland.
Day 4 Eyjafjörður - Hrísey Island - 28th June
We’ll take a morning whale watching trip on Eyjafjörður and hope to see Humpback and Minke Whales and White-beaked Dolphins,Harbour Porpoises and possibly Orca. The trip is good for birds, too, with Black Guillemots, Arctic Terns and Black-legged Kittiwakes to delight the photographers. Later we’ll visit Hrísey Island, a great place to see Iceland’s waders at close hand, and expect to see Rock Ptarmigan. The island has a large Arctic Tern colony which often attracts the attention of the local Arctic Skuas. We’ll finish the day with a quick visit to Akureyri, Iceland’s second largest city.
Day 5 Lake Mývatn - 29th June
All birders have heard of Mývatn, Iceland’s wildfowl hotspot. The shallow lake is home for many species of ducks and we expect to see Harlequin Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck, Eurasian Wigeon (perhaps American Wigeon, too), Gadwall and Common Scoter. There is also a chance of seeing Gyr Falcon and Short-eared Owl. The lake is also very interesting geologically and we’ll learn of the eruptions that have occurred here recently. Botanists enjoy expoloring the lakeside and will find many of the Icelandic specialities including Mountain Avens, Northern Green Orchid and several different saxifrage species. It’s a wonderful day in the field.
Day 6 Kjölur - Hveravellir - Gullfoss - Skálholt – 30th June
It’s an exciting day’s journey as we cross the interior of Iceland by the Kjölur mountain track. The route takes us between the great ice caps of Langjökull and Hofsjökull. We’ll encounter Pink-footed Geese on the journey as their breeding grounds are in this remote part of Iceland. We’ll look out for Gyr Falcon and Merlin as we travel and will call at the geothermal area at Hveravellir and explore the thermal vents and hot springs there — perhaps the Snow Buntings will also be taking a hot bath! We’ll reach the great glacial waterfall of Gullfoss in the late afternoon and nearby is the geothermal area of Geysir and we’ll see the erupting geyser there. From here it’s a short drive to Skálholt where we’ll spend the next two nights.
Day 7 Dyrhólaey - Vík - 01st July
We head for the magnificent landscapes of southern Iceland and do some coastal birding near Dyrhólaey and Vík. In addition to the auks and Kittiwakes we’ll look out for Great Skuas — the area is an important breeding ground for them. We’ll also search for the Icelandic sub-species of Winter Wren and, of course, explore the snout of the nearby glacier. We will be in areas affected by the Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010 and we’ll learn about the event and its impact on the area. As we return there’ll be more opportunities to see at close hand the breeding waders of Iceland.
Day 8 Þingvellir - Reykjavík - 02nd July
We visit the national park of Þingvellir. There’s some very good birding here and we should have some good views of both Great Northern and Red-throated Divers. We should also find both Harlequin Duck and Barrow’s Goldeneye near here. The area is also very important historically as it was here that the Vikings held their open air parliament each midsummer. We’ll have a quick visit to Reykjavík before travelling to the airport at Keflavík in order to catch our afternoon flight.
Leaders: Andy Jones
Group size: Minimum for tour to go ahead 6 maximum 10
Included in cost: Accommodation in tourist hotels or country guesthouses, twin rooms en-suite, all meals as described (dinner from the hotel’s ‘dish of the day’), ground transport throughout, all entrance fees, Whale watching boat trip, Ferry fare, and services of a naturalist guide.
Not included: Airfare's, insurance, drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature.
Accommodation: All lodges are of a good standard and offer en-suite rooms.
Tour Code: This is a standard birding tour with a full programme for each day. Please note that there is 24 hours of daylight at this time of year and The weather can be good to warm, as well as cold and wet. Be prepared for all eventualities. Wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed. Weather and road conditions may, often at short notice, require changes to the itinerary.
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