|Date||Time||Rain||Temperature||Visibility||Wind||Cloud cov||Cloud type|
|27.5||17.00-01.00||showers||+13 -> +3 C||>50km||5m/s NW||0-4/8||Cu,Ac|
|28.5||10.00-17.30||+3 - +9 C||20-50km||5m/s SW||0->8/8||Ac,As|
|29.5||no birding||rain||+7 C||10-20km||<4m/s||8/8||Ns,Nc|
|30.5||09.00-noon||rain||+5 -> +7 C||<1-10km||5m/s SW||8/8||Nc,St|
|noon-22.30||+7 -> +3 C||20-50km||5 m/s NW||6/8||Ci,Ac|
|31.5||08.00-noon||+8 ->+14 C||>50km||5m/s NW||4/8||Ci,Ac|
|noon-22.30||+14 -> +7 C||>50km||8m/s SW||8/8||Ac,Cu|
|1.6||07.00||rain||+ 5 C||10-20km||0m/s||8/8||Nc|
Th 27.5. I arrived at Keflavík international airport on May 27 at 15.40 and took a shuttle bus to Reykjavík. The fare for this connection is 700 ISK (about 9.30 euro). The shuttle takes you to the domestic Reykjavík airport, which is located a couple of km South of the city center. If you are booked in a multistar hotel, there is likely to be a connection from here to your hotel. Otherwise you may want to take a taxi.
I was delighted that Yann Kolbeinsson met me at the bus terminal. We embarked immediately on birding. First we went to downtown Reykjavík to check the two lakes called Tjörnin. They had a reasonably nice collection of ducks (Eider, Scaup, Tufted Duck, Whooper Swan etc) and a colony of Arctic Terns, which turned out to be a surprisingly abundant species at various locations in SW Iceland. Yann showed me next, from a distance, the Puffin colony at Akurey, North of the Reykjavík harbor. We then proceeded to the Seltjarnarnes peninsula, which extends northwest of the city. At the ponds by the gold course we had a Garganey, which is a rarity here, as well as Shovelers, Red-necked Phalaropes, a good variety of the more common shore birds as well as water birds, and a huge colony of Arctic Terns.
Our birding trip continued South-west of Reykjavík towards the Reykjanes peninsula in search of Gull roosts. We did not get to any large ones, but had a confiding Iceland Gull, and some Kittiwakes at the Grindavík harbor. We also saw a leucistic Purple Sandpiper. From there we continued to the Southwestern most point of Iceland, Valahnukar close to Reykjanestá. This site provides nice looks of Kittiwakes and a distant colony of Gannets at Eldey and as well as quite a few Fulmars. Further North at Hafnir we tried to find the last wintering(!) Harlequins that had still present a week ago, but we had no luck here. We then continued North on a new road between Keflavík town and the airport towards Garđur. At the North end of the village there are a couple of ponds on the right side. In the first one a long-staying American Black Duck was present. It apparently arrived there in 1993. Good numbers of shore bird were present at the tip of at Garđskagi. We also witnessed the Sun setting behind the Snćfellsjökull. It is the mountain from which Jules Verne starts his Journey towards the Center of the Earth, only to emerge from Etna, Sicily. As the sun set slowly we were able to bird for another two hours, first at Sandgerđi and then back in the Reykjavík area at the mouth of River Elliđaár. Sandgerđi had a nice gull roost, with several Iceland Gulls, and Glaucous Gulls as well as Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Greater Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls. River Elliđaár had a nice variety of shore birds: Oystercatcher, Redshank, Dunlin and Common Ringer Plover. We stopped birding at 1 AM.
Fr 28.5. I got up late, and had a "bird by walking" day, only because car rental is so horrendously expensive. My aim was to get to the Grótta lighthouse located at the NW tip of Seltjarnarnes. It is accessible at low tide only. I left Ísafold guesthouse at 10AM and walked by what must be the most sterile rubbish tip in the world.. There was no trash there! On arrival to the base of Grótta at noon, I got slightly upset because the tip was closed from May 1st to July. As it turns out this seems to be the case for any bird place that is sensitive to disturbance. Well, good for the birds! I ended up walking in the accessible areas of Seltjarnarnes peninsula and photographing Terns and shore birds until I had to leave at about 17.00.
Sa 29.5. Meeting.
Su 30.5. I rented a car in the morning, but as it turned out. It was better not to drive it today, should I decide to drive tomorrow over 200km! Our OPC host Einar took us to a nice ride around the SW parts of the country, partially to the same areas I had already visited, but also to new ones. First, we drove in rain and drizzle to the North end of lake Ţingvallavatn, where a historic place called Valhöll, the former parliament site of Iceland is located. It dates back to the 13th century. The rock formations are impressive there as in many other locations too. I was struck by the large numbers of Redwings singing in the dwarf birch, and by a pair of Harlequin ducks. Birding was quite minimal for the rest of the day, except for two occasions. We made a very short excursion to Hópsnes, just east of Grindavík. Lots of "standard" waders around. I felt like this could be a good place during migration. Einar took us also to Krýsuvíkurberg.. A nice size seabird colony beyond some small roads.. I was determined to return there.
In the evening I went to check some ponds at Hafnarfjörđur (a southern suburb of Reykjavík). Common snipe was displaying there, with only a few other birds around.
I also visited lake Ástjörn, or actually I viewed it from quite a distance, because this too was closed during breeding season. I saw some Slavonian (=Horned) Grebes, a Common Teal and to my surprise a Black-tailed Godwit among the more common bird species and a colony of Black-headed Gulls. Access to Ástjörn is from road 41. As you drive from Keflavík towards Reykjavík, some 14 km before Reykjavík you come across the intersection of roads 41 and 42 towards Krýsuvík. At about the same time you hit the first two-three storey buildings of Hafnarfjörđur on you left side. Continuing on 41 towards Reykjavík, the road climbs a hill. Just as you reach the top of the hill keep an eye for a clover leaf shaped figure on your right side denoting a site of interest. If you see a cemetery on you right side before some traffic lights you have gone slightly too far. Turn on the clover leaf marked dirt road and continue a couple of hundred meters to a Parking area. Park here. It is just outside the protected area and just close enough to view the lake with a telescope.
Mo 31.5. The day started sunny and turned out to be a very nice one. We took off at 8.00am. We headed East of Reykjavík towards the Southern end of lake Ţingvallavatn. The weather was very clear and we could see distant glaciers from Dyrafjöll. The Hagavík bay at the southern edge of Ţingvallavatn was beautiful. The lake itself was calm. You could hear Redshanks and Snipe displaying. Redwings and a Wren were also signing. There were a couple of small forests around the bay, and the air was filled with peace. Only a Gyrfalcon was missing. The area looked suitable for one though. We continued East towards the River Sog. Before getting there we bumped into a small lake, Villingavatn, located between road 360 and Ţingvallavatn. A nesting pair of a Common Loon was a nice surprise, as were three Black-tailed Godwits. The South-eastern corner of Ţingvallavatn looked quite barren. We continued East until we saw the dam at River Sog. We took the small track to the dam but found only some Redshanks. The bridge some 700 meters South of the dam was better. Between the bridge and the upper dam we saw a single male Barrow's Goldeneye. A week earlier there had been a good bunch of them here. Below the bridge there was a second dam. We crossed the river and turned right (South) on road 36. After about 2.5 km River Sog almost touches the road only at one location. We stopped here, and managed to get good looks at 1/1+5/1 Harlequins. They stayed quite often very close to the shore line of the river. After about 10 km the road goes again over the River Sog. Here again we obtained nice views of half a dozen of Harlequins. About a kilometer after this bridge we stopped at a parking place with a point of interest, which tells about the geology and the ice age of the area. We could also hear some odd sounds. They turned out to be a colony of Fulmars breeding on the cliffs of Ingólfsfjall, the mountain just west of the road. This site is about 15 km from the ocean as the Fulmar flies.
We continued south through Selfoss, where we saw the only common gulls of this trip, and then proceeded towards Eyrarbakki, which is located on the coast. The landscape from Selfoss to Eyrarbakki is flat, with loads of small lakes or ponds. We should have spent here much more time! On arrival to Eyrarbakki, we drove to the shore line. It was low tide with lots of seaweeds, a few Calidrids and a first summer Ring-billed Gull. The road West of Eyrarbakki seemed quite nice, but it was getting windy, so we did most of our birding only a very short distance from the car. Here again lots of good looking lakes and ponds, and reasonable numbers of birds. Would really be worth a full day. The same appears to be true for the delta of Ölfusá river (the main river that is formed when Sog joins Hvítá North of Selfoss). We stopped for a cup of coffee at Ţorlákshöfn in small video shop displaying 350 videos for rent. After checking the harbor for gulls, we continued west along the dirt road 42 heading towards Krýsuvík and Grindavík. Redshanks and Snipes were displaying along the road, Eiders were common in small lakes and Fulmars were breeding on almost every possible cliff by the road. Sceneries were quite nice.
After driving some 30 km, we came across an intersection almost in the middle of nowhere. One road (42) leads North towards Lake Kleifarvatn and Reykjavík. The other road (also 42) is the one we just drove on, leads East towards the Ölfusá river delta area. The third dirt road (427) leads West towards Krýsuvík and Grindavík. We took the third one. After about 1.2(+-0.2) km there is an insignificant footpath sign on the left showing Krýsuvíkurberg. (The 1:100 000 map shows this intersection incorrectly and much too conspicuously). This road is really for four wheel drives, but we managed to drive the 5km track with a small Micra. There is a small creek that you have to cross at about half away along the track, but we made it across with no problem. We had been here yesterday, so we knew what to expect. Actually it was better than what our first impression had been. All alcids (except Dovekie/Little Auk) were present in good numbers, as were Kittiwakes and Fulmars. Further out at the sea good numbers of Gannets, a few shearwaters were flying. I saw also a medium sized whale, which showed only its back fin. We spent a couple of hours here and got excellent views of all the breeding species. We then continued to the Grindavík harbor, which turned out to be quite empty. We called the day off and returned to Reykjavík at about 10.30 PM.
Tu 1.6. Departure from Keflavík airport at 7 AM.
|deg min W||deg min N|
|Reykjavík Harbor||21 56.2||64 09.3||- good in winter time|
|Tjörnin Lakes||21 56.6||64 08.7||- ducks in down town Reykjavík|
|Seltjarnarnes||22 01.0||64 09.5||- bird lakes|
|Hafnarfjörđur||21 57||64 04|
|Ástjörn||21 57.5||64 03.0||- bird lake|
|Akurey||21 58.0||64 10.4||- puffin island (distant views)|
|Keflavík airport||22 36||63 59|
|Garđur||22 39.0||64 04.0|
|Garđskagi||22 40.5||64 05.0|
|Sandgerđi||22 42.5||64 02.7|
|Hafnir||22 41.5||63 56.1|
|Hafnaberg||22 44||63 53||- apparently a good colony of seabirds|
|Reykjanestá||22 43||63 48.7|
|Eldey Island||22 55||63 45||- Gannet colony|
|Grindavík harbor||22 25.5||63 50.3|
|Kleifarvatn||22 00||63 55|
|Intersection to Krýsuvíkurberg||22 04.15||63 51.90|
|Krýsuvíkurberg||22 05||63 50||- nice colony of seabirds|
|Krýsuvík||22 04||63 52|
|Ţingvallvatn/River Sog area:|
|Valhöll||21 07.5||64 15.5||- Harlequin|
|Dyrafjöll||21 17||64 06.5|
|Hagavík||21 10||64 07.6|
|Villingavatn||21 05||64 06.5||- Good bird lake|
|Dam at Sog||21 00.7||64 05.7||- Barrow's Goldeneye|
|1st Bridge||21 00.5||64 05.3|
|Sog river||20 58.8||64 04.2||- Harlequin|
|2nd Bridge||20 58.5||64 00.6||- Harlequin|
|Selfoss||21 00.2||63 56.4|
|Eyrarbakki||21 09.0||63 51.5|
|Ölfusá delta (bridge)||21 12.5||63 52.7|
Gasoline price about 75ISK/liter.
In case your terminal or printer may not tuned to Icelandic, or because they may turn out to look something else on your terminal, I'll summarize the special letters. The two most unique letters are ţ, Ţ and đ, Đ. The first of the two letters looks like a mix between letters p and b, and is pronounced as "th" in the English word "thing". The second unique looks like a letter d with a crossbar. This is pronounced approximately as "th" in "this" or very crudely as a d. There is also a full legion of accented vowels which I show here because your screen or terminal may not reproduce them correctly: a á, e é, i í, o ó, u ú, y ý, (ae=) ć, (o with 2 dots=) ö.
Some people mention that Keflavík airport is cheap. In my opinion at least, sweets, sweaters and optics, were here too on the expensive side, but cheaper than elsewhere in Iceland. For example the same 200 gram chocolate mentioned above was here 160 ISK, My impression is that similar items can be found cheaper eg. in ordinary stores in the US, or in Estonia, or at Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam) or at Vantaa airport (Helsinki). One specialty of Keflavík is that you can buy stuff tax free at the airport on ENTRY to Iceland. This can be useful if you forgot your binoculars home! On your departure tax refund is easy to obtain for your purchases done in Iceland. One should also note that all the prices at Keflavík are shown in USD, but ISK are also accepted.
http://www.rvk.is/ - links to Reykjavík including city maps and other Tourist info.
http://artemis.centrum.is/~backman/MAP/ - map of Reykjavík (map 8 shows the Kringlan shopping center - marked on the map with number 8, and map 6 shows the harbor and Tjörnin lakes, and map number 9 shows the delta of river Elliđaár).
http://www.hi.is/~arnie/ - information about Lake Mývatn research station
http://www.eldhorn.is/fuglar/ - information about bird sightings.
http://www.gsm.is/dreifikerfid.htm - GSM coverage map (by www.simi.is)
http://www.tal.is/ - click English, coverage for an alternative GSM operator)
1. RED-THROATED LOON Gavia stellata
1/-/-/1 Seawatching at Reykjanestá and Krýsuvíkurberg
2. COMMON LOON Gavia immer
-/-/-/1pair+2 Pair and a nest at Villingavatn, others from seawatching Krýsuvíkurberg
3. SLAVONIAN/HORNED GREBE Podiceps auritus
-/-/3/- at Ástjörn only
4. FULMAR Flumarus glacialis
Common everywhere close to the ocean. Breeds on cliffs up to 15 km from the ocean. My first fulmar was seen from the plane as it was landing, maybe still some 500m above the ground.
5. GANNET Sula bassana
Huge breeding colony SW of Reykjanestá. Feeding birds can be seen all along the southern edge of the peninsula eg. at Krýsuvíkurberg.
6. MANX SHEARWATER Puffinus puffinus
-/-/-/8 seen in 2 flocks at seawatching from Krýsuvíkurberg.
XX. (CORMORANT Phalacrocorax carbo)
1 seen on 27.5 by Yann at Reykjanestá, just ignored by me at the time.
7. SHAG Phalacrocorax aristotelis
1/-/4/5 seawatching at Reykjanestá and Krýsuvíkurberg.
8. WHOOPER SWAN Cygnus cygnus
Found eg. in downtown Reykjavík, and Seltjarnarnes. Largest flock, 32 birds, a couple of km South of Selfoss.
9. GREYLAG GOOSE Anser anser
Common often in pairs or small flocks, also some escaped feral ones close to Reykjavík.
10. GADWALL Anas strepera
3/2/-/- at Seltjarnarnes
11. MALLLARD Anas playtrhynchos
12. COMMON TEAL Anas c. crecca
-/-/1/- single male at Ástjörn
13. AMERICAN BLACK DUCK Anas rubripes
1/-/-/- single male at small ponds NW of Garđur
14. GARGANEY Anas querquedula
1/-/-/- single male at Seltjarnarnes
15. SHOVELER Anas clypeata
2/-/-/- single pair at Seltjarnarnes
16. WIGEON Anas penelope
-/1/-/4 Seltjarnarnes, and small lakes by the delta of Ölfusá on road 34
17. TUFTED DUCK Aythya fuligula
18. SCAUP Aythya marila
4/8/2/2 Seltjarnarnes, Ţingvallavatn, Villingavatn
19. BARROW'S GOLDENEYE Bucephala islandica
-/-/-/1 single male at North end of River Sog
20. HARLEQUIN DUCK Histrionicus histrionicus
-/-/2/14 one pair at Valhöll, north end of Ţingvallavatn, The rest at river Sog (1m1f,5m1f,4m1f,1m)
21. COMMON EIDER Somateria mollissima
300/200/150/400 widespread along coastal waters and in freshwater lakes up to 15 km inland.
22. OLDSQUAW/LONG-TAILED DUCK Clangula hyemalis
2/7/-/- Seltjarnarnes only
23. RED-BREASTED MERGANSER Mergus serrator
10/10/8/20 widespread, mainly in pairs
24. COMMON MERGANSER/GOOSANDER Mergus merganser
-/-/2/- one pair at Valhöll, north end of Ţingvallavatn
25. OYSTERCATCHER Haematopus ostralegus
100/20/35/6 widespread on coast
26. RINGER PLOVER Charadrius hiaticula
40/8/6/8 widespread on coast and inland
27. GOLDEN PLOVER Pluvialis apricaria
28. SANDERLING Calidris alba
300/6/-/10 coastal areas
29. RED KNOT Calidris canutus
500/35/-/- coastal areas
30. DUNLIN Calidris alpina
20/30/-/20 coastal areas
31. PURPLE SANPIPER Calidris maritima
15/-/-/- coastal areas
32. COMMON SNIPE Capella gallinago
2/7/15/30 mainly freshwater lakes and pools
33. BLACK-TAILED GODWIT Limosa limosa
-/-/1/7 One at Ástjörn, 3 at Villingavatn and 4 by the small lakes near Ölfusá delta area along road 34
34. WHIMBREL Numenius phaeopus
1/-/9/20 isolated individuals, drier habitat than snipe
35. CURLEW Numenius arquata
1/-/-/- at Sandgerđi
36. REDSHANK Tringa totanus
100/8/18/25 widespread coastal and inland waters and grasslands
37. RUDDY TURNSTONE Arenaria interpres
150/10/10 coastal areas
38. RED-NECKED/NORTHERN PHALAROPE Phalaropus lobatus
6/6/1/- Seltjarnarnes and Ástjörn
39. PARASITIC JAEGER/SKUA Stercorarius parasiticus
5/-/-/8 all were about 2-5km inland from the south coast from Reykjanestá to Eyrarbakki
40. GREAT SKUA Stercorarius skua
-/-/-/5 seen at seawatching from Krýsuvíkurberg
41. BLACK-HEADED GULL Larus ridibundus
300/20/400/100 common and widespread
42. COMMON GULL Larus canus
-/-/-/2 only at Selfoss, about 0.5km west of the bridge on the South side of the road
43. RING-BILLED GULL Larus delawarensis
-/-/-/1 seen at Eyrarbakki half an hour after the two common Gulls. This bird was in heavy moult and among other field marks had a bill pattern typical for a first summer RB Gull.
44. LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus graelsii
800/50/300/40 Common, found even far inland.
45. HERRING GULL Larus argentatus
46. GREATER BLACK-BACKED GULL Larus marinus
30/2/-/3 Not that common, mainly 2nd and 3rd calendar year birds
47. GLAUCOUS GULL Larus hyporboreus
100/15/40/5 More common than Iceland, mostly subadults
XX. GLAUCOUS X HERRING GULL HYBRID Lar hypx arg
48. ICELAND GULL Larus glaucoides
40/2/10/4 mostly subadults
49. BLACK-LEGGED KITTIWAKE Rissa tridactyla
300+/80+/10000+/15000 Good breeding colonies at Krýsuvíkurberg, and a smaller colony at Reykjanestá
50. ARCTIC TERN Sterna paradisaea
1500/500/150/800 Huge colonies eg. at Seltjarnarnes.
51. GUILLEMOT/COMMON MURREE Uria aalge
3 (+20sp)/3/30(+1500sp)/10000+ The largest numbers at Krýsuvíkurberg
52. BRÜNNICHS'S GUILLEMOT/THICK-BILLED MURREE Uria lomvia
Very nice views at Krýsuvíkurberg. Not all birds showed the white line at the base of the bill. The bill is quite striking, causing the head shape to be different from Guillemot's. In a Guillemot you can easily distinguish where the bill ends and the head starts. In a Brünnich's, the bill appears to be a continuation of the head, i.e. the angle between the forehead and the upper mandible is small.
53. RAZORBILL Alca torda
-/-/3/250+ at Krýsuvíkurberg
54. BLACK GUILLEMOT Cepphus grylle
8/-/-/4 at Reykjanestá and Krýsuvíkurberg
55. ATLANTIC PUFFIN Fratercula arctica
Huge colony seen at a distance from Reykjavík harbor, 10 birds seen at Reykjanestá and a good number (100) at Krýsuvíkurberg, where some of the birds passed me from a couple of meter's distance!
56. DOMESTIC PIGEON Columba livia
20/14/10/10 In the Reykjavík area, and Selfoss
57. MEADOW PIPIT Anthus pratensis
2/4/8/30 Widespread, mostly identified by call.
58. WHITE WAGTAIL Motacilla alba
-/1/6/15 Widespread, appeared to be more common inland.
59. (WINTER) WREN Troglodytes troglodytes
-/-/-/1 singing in a spruce/fir forest at the SW corner of Hagavík (Southern Ţingvallavatn)
60. WHEATEAR Oenanthe oenanthe
1/-/3/6 widespread, single birds. Usually just see a black and white flash of the tail.
61. REDWING Turdus iliacus
single individuals 1 on 27th and 2 on 29th during lunch break in Reykjavík. Good numbers all around Ţingvallavatn both in Dwarf birch and Spruce/Fir forests. Easy to find by song.
62. RAVEN Corvus corax
3/-/3/6 Single individuals or pairs.
63. STARLING Sturnus vulgaris
In Reykjavík area. The only passerine in Reykjavík -- it felt kind of strange to have no house sparrow, thrushes, or great tits/house finches in a city this large.
64. REDPOLL Carduelis flammea
-/-/1/- A single bird flew over lake Ástjörn. Identified by call and by size.
Birds I did not see, but was kind of expecting: Lagopus mutus, Falco columbarius, F. rusticolus, Asio flammeus, Plectrophenax nivalis.