Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bird Species Listing for Iceland Birding Trip - June 13-23, 2009

And index on the right side of the page directs you to specific posts from the many places we visited. Or simply scroll through the several pages of posts (click "older posts") at the bottom of each page.

Here is the list of 57 bird species we saw while birding in Iceland from June 13-23, 2009. Main birding areas visited were: Reykjanes Peninsula, Reykjavik, Golden Circle Route (Thingvellir, Geysir, Gulfoss and Selfoss), Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Breidafjörder, West Fjords Region (Látrabjarg, Patreksfjördur and Tálknafjördur), Akureyri and Myvatn.

Should you be planning a birding trip to Iceland please feel free to ask us questions!

Below is the AOU name followed by the scientific name. Parenthetical names are the Icelandic common name.

Whooper Swan - Cygnus cygnus
Greylag Goose - Anser anser
Eurasian Wigeon - Anas penelope
Gadwall - Anas strepera
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchos
Tufted Duck - Aythya fuligula
Greater Scaup - Aythya marila
Common Eider - Somateria mollissima
Harlequin Duck - Histrionicus histrionicus
Long-tailed Duck - Clangula hyemalis
Black Scoter - Melanitta nigra
Barrow's Golden-eye - Bucephala islandica
Red-breasted Merganser - Mergus serrator
Common Merganser - Mergus merganser (Goosander)
Red-throated Loon - Gavia stellata (Red-throated Diver)
Common Loon - Gavia immer (Great Northern Diver)
Horned Grebe - Podiceps auritus (Slavonian Grebe)
Northern Fulmar - Fulmaris glacialis
Northern Gannet - Morus bassanus
Great Cormorant - Phalacrocorax carbo
European Shag - Phalacrocorax aristotelis
Eurasian Oystercatcher - Haematopus ostralegus
Common Ringed Plover - Charadrius hiaticula (Ringed Plover)
European Golden Plover - Pluvialis apricaria
Purple Sandpiper - Calidris maritima
Dunlin - Calidris alpina
Wilson's Snipe - Gallinago gallinago (Common Snipe)
Black-tailed Godwit - Limosa lapponica
Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus
Common Redshank - Tringa totanus
Ruddy Turnstone - Arenaria interpres
Red-necked Phalarope - Phalaropus lobatus
Red Phalarope - Phalaropus fulicarius (Grey Phalarope)
Parasitic Jaeger - Stercorarius parasiticus (Arctic Skua)
Long-tailed Jaeger - Stercorarius longicaudus (Long-tailed Skua)
Black-headed Gull - Larus ridibundus
Lesser Black-backed Gull - Larus fuscus
Herring Gull - Larus argentatus
Iceland Gull - Larus glaucoides
Glaucous Gull - Larus hyperboreus
Great Black-backed Gull - Larus marinus
Black-legged Kittiwake - Risa tridactyla
Arctic Tern - Sterna paradisaea
Common Murre - Uria aalge (Common Guillemot)
Thick-billed Murre - Uria lomvia (Brunnich's Guillemot)
Razorbill - Alca torda
Black Guillemot - Cepphus grylle
Atlantic Puffin - Fratercula arctica
Meadow Pipit - Anthus pratensis
White Wagtail - Motacilla alba
Winter Wren - Troglodytes troglodytes
Northern Wheatear - Oenanthe oenanthe
Redwing - Turdus iliacus
Common Raven - Corvus corax
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris (Common Starling)
Common Redpoll - Carduelis flammea (Mealy Redpoll)
Snow Bunting - Plectrophenax nivalis

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We're Back! - June 24, 2009

The Location Tracker has been moved down, and the index of posts moved up, to make navigation easier.

56 bird species! A complete list in AOU order will be coming soon!

We departed Akureyri (in North Iceland) midday on June 23 and flew to Reykjavik's city center airport. From there we took the FlyBus Shuttle for the 40 mile trip to Keflavik International Airport (Reykjavik's domestic flights use the City Center airport and the international flights operate out of Keflavik).

One doesn't need to arrive early for a flight out of Akureyri. We arrived 1 hour 10 minutes prior to our 11:40am flight... not outlandishly early in our opinion considering we had to drop off our rental car. But the rental car counters were all closed, and when I picked up the Avis courtesy phone it rang the Avis employee at her house! She arrived at 11am, found me in the terminal, took the keys and rental car agreement, and then came back with the processed paperwork.

One thing that speeds things up is that there isn't any security screening one needs to go through to board a plane. Most people seemed to show up about 15 minutes before departure.

You can't help but like an airline that allows you to roll your bike onboard!

It was cloudy the entire flight, except for the first couple of minutes after takeoff and the last 2 minutes before landing in Reykjavik.

Our Icelandair flight took us over Greenland, Labrador (Canada) and Maine to Boston. We arrived in Boston in time for dinner.

Today, June 24th, Mom came by my office for breakfast and a tour of the Harvard Medical School lab at the hospital, and then we took a ZipCar to the airport for her JetBlue flight to Orlando.
And now we're both home!

What a wonderful vacation!

We saw 53 bird species!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Drive from Myvatn to Akureyri - June 22, 2009

The drive between Myvatn and Akureyri is quite beautiful with tall snow-covered mountains (we were driving above the snow line at times), fast flowing mountain streams and rivers, and fjords!

Approaching Akureyri on Ring Road 1 from the east you descend at 10% grade for several kilometers and get stunning views of the fjord and the city of Akureyri.

We fly out of Akureyri tomorrow at mid-day for Reykjavik, where we'll transfer to Keflavik Airport for our flight to Boston.

We haven't seen night since June 13!

And I just looked outside (just after 1am) and the sky is blue and a Parasitic Jaeger flew over the hotel.

Geothermal Explorations in Myvatn, Iceland

Iceland has LOTS of hot water. And the hot water is REALLY hot! It's piped directly into homes and has a sulphur aroma to it (very strong aroma in Reykjavik, less strong in other cities).

Car washes are free, too.

We visited geothermal areas in Bjarnarflag, Hverir and Krafla (an active volcano)... all just 3 - 10 kilometers east of Reykjahlid at Myvatn.

We also went to the Jardbodin Nature Baths in Bjarnarflag (like the Blue Lagoon, but better).

Bjarnarflag is also where the world famous "Bjarnarflag Braud" is made. It's bread cooked in milk cartons in holes dug in the ground. The geothermal heat cooks the bread. It's delicious!

And we visited the world's first, and still the largest, geothermal plant that generates electricity. We even drove through the pipes transporting the water from the volcano the the generators.

Birds of Myvatn

Good heavens, we saw lots of birds today! Myvatn is a major breeding area for birds in Iceland, some of which, among them Barrow's Goldeneye, only breed at Myvatn.

Some of the species we saw were Black-tailed Godwits, Harlequin Ducks, Barrow's Goldeneye, Scoters (forgot which one... will have to check the list), Gray Phalaropes, Red-necked Phalaropes, Eurasian Widgeons, European Golden Plovers, Snow Buntings, Gadwall, Wheatear, Redeye, White Wagtail, Falco lambarctica* and many more.

*A "called out" Gyrfalcon (Falco rusticola) that turned out to be an Icelandic Sheep. It was 1,000 feet up on a cliff... those 2 white fluffy legs made me think Gyrfalcon! Ask mom about the Black-billed Swan!

Akureyri, Iceland - Godafoss & Myvatn - June 22, 2009

Updating videos now. Had an incredible day in Akureyri and Myvatn, and wound up on a wonderful excursion and discovery due to a search for a loaf of Hverabraud / Bjarnarsflagbraud (bread made in geothermal underground ovens).

Below, a Black-tailed Godwit. One of 11 seen today. We've been able to get really close to them.
Mom at Godafoss, a historic waterfall on the way to Myvatn. In 1000AD, the chieftain who decided Iceland should become Christian, tossed his pagan idols into the falls after making the conversion.

Me at Godafoss.

Above the fjord opposite Akureyri.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs - June 19, 2009

We're in Akureyri right now... it's June 20, 2009... It's brilliantly lit by natural light outside (12:53am local time). We're off to bird at Lake Myvatn tomorrow.

Nothing can describe our experience at the Látrabjarg bird cliffs in the West Fjords region. Nothing can describe driving there, mile after mile after mile, on single-lane gravel roads on cliffs 1,000 to 2,000 feet high with sheer straight down drops into the ocean.

There aren't any guard rails.

My hands have callouses from constantly gripping the steering wheel.

Here are some videos... I'll try to get even more uploaded for you. Fullmars, Guillemots, Black Guillemots, Black-headed Gulls, Puffins, Murres, Razorbills... the list goes on and on.

For some reason I thought the road let you off at the top of the cliffs. But instead it lets you off at the bottom! You have to climb to the top of the cliffs, and the cliffs range from 1,000 - 3,000 feet high.