Iceland is indeed a birdwatcher’s paradise with large colonies of seabirds and waterfowls that may be visible along the coast. Arctic Tern, Waders, Eiders, Passerine birds along with various other seabirds such as the Atlantic Puffin, Razorbill, Guillemot, Gannets, Fulmar and gulls are some of the delightful species of birds found in this region. You can take day drips Reykjanes Peninsula, Snaefellsnes Peninsula including the Western Islands to find the largest population of Puffins in these places.
Lake Myvatn situated in North Iceland is also one of the well-known bird watching destinations along with the Laxa River, where a large number of waterfowls along with exotic breeding ducks such as the Harlequin duck and the Barrow’s Goldeneye which are no more seen in Europe can be found here in this region. In the Westfjords, Latrabjarg is more popular with many birding attractions and activities which is renowned to be among the largest bird cliff in the world which is home to millions of birds. More than half of the world’s population of bird species such as Razorbill can be seen in this place.
Grimsey is a small island which has a large colony of seabirds and puffins located in the isolated Strandir district of Westfjords.
On the west coast, this ear shaped peninsula provides a variety of habitats with birding activities that can be found along this region. The wildfowls on the ponds and lakes of the south shore along with guillemots along the lava cliffs, kittiwakes in between the lava arches with Iceland’s biggest tern colony in Rif are some of the bird species that catch the attention of bird lovers.
Kind Elder, white-tailed eagles, purple sandpipers, harlequin ducks along with long tailed ducks are some of the exotic species to watch out for in this place.
-Thingvellir National Park
You can watch the largest natural lake, rivers, birch scrub along with lovely meadows on a day trip from the capital. In Thingvellir National Park, you can find whooper swan, northern diver, tufted duck, graylag goose, red-breasted merganser and goosander among other bird species. Black tailed godwit, merlin, whimbrel, snow bunting redwing, arctic tern and gyrfalcon are also some of the different species of birds that live in this habitat.
Red-breasted Merganser, female
This shallow lake is a key area of global importance for bird conservation and is fed by spring water and can be seen flowing under the lava beds. There is a large colony of insect larvae found in summer that attracts tens and thousands of ducks along the lake region. Tufted duck, red-breasted merganser, gadwall, mallard, Barrow’s goldeneye can be seen during late April and early May. If you are lucky, you might be able to spot the gyrfalcon which is present in small numbers along this place. Don’t miss the bird watching experience at the Sigurgeir’s Museum and enjoy the surrounding wildlife spectacle in this region as well.
-Gardskagi and Reykjanes Peninsula
Along the Reykjanes peninsula, which is about ten minutes’ drive from Keflavik airport, Gardskagi resembles the toe of the peninsula. This midnight sunview point is guarded by two lighthouses and is also a renowned stage post for many migratory birds. During late April and May, large flocks of knot, ruddy turnstone, purple sandpiper, northern gannet, manx shearwater and other exotic bird species are visible in this region.
There is only one family that lives on this island throughout the year but with the coming of summer, the village becomes lively as the ferry arrives. Most parts of the island are not reachable and are part of the bird sanctuary, and here bird species can be found moving around everywhere. Common redshank, common snipe, arctic tern, meadow pipit, Atlantic puffin along with the rare red phalarope catch your attention.
In the far northeast of Iceland, this lonely village can provide the best bird watching experience of the puffins. There are many photographing opportunities in this place with sand eels, kittiwakes, elders along with puffins that can be found resting on the rocky edge of the harbor.
-Djupivogur and Papey
The east coast of this fishing village offers a natural reserve with bird hides where different bird species such as Shelduck, Shoveler, wildfowl and Slavonian Grebe can be found. This area is good to catch a glimpse of some of the seabirds and waders during autumn and spring season. Make sure to catch up with giant big egg sculptures across the harbor wall. You can also make a trip to puffin island of Papey if you have some extra time left using the boat ride.
There are many other fascinating bird species that may be found in Iceland right from Golden Plover which can be seen during the spring season. The ravens also have a special association with Iceland and they are more connected through mysticism and the folklore of this region. Yet another bird that catches the attention of bird watchers is the Common Snipe which is known by its sound that its looks. Rock Ptarmigan lives on Iceland throughout the year which is a more sedentary type of bird which prefers walking rather than flying and makes use of seasonal camouflage for its protection.
Snowy owls can also offer a rewarding experience to bird watchers and may be spotted only 5 to 10 times in a year and they usually feast on Rock Ptarmigan which is also a festive food for Icelanders.
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