Thursday, 2 February 2017

South Coast > Reykjavik - Iceland

Date: 24th January 2017 - 28th January 2017
Location: Reykjavik, Þingvellir, Skogafoss, Gullfoss - Iceland
Weather: Snow, Sunshine to Rain, Cloudy and Cold
Other Species:
Red Kite, Raven, Fulmar, Whooper Swan, Pink-Footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Red-Breasted Merganser, Eider, Long-Tailed Duck, Wigeon, Black Guillemot, Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull, Great Northern Diver, Razorbill, Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone .

Observation: We visited Iceland back in 2014: Blog Here
One of Wayne's birthday presents for this 50th was a trip to Iceland, planned for 24th Jan - 28th Jan. Flying from Luton was a perfect opportunity to get some birdwatching in on the way to the airport! We passed a huge number of Buzzard's (we counted 20+ along with a single Red Kite between Swindon/Oxford on the M4! 

We arrived late on the 24th, and after a long walk along the harbour getting some landscape images, we headed back for an early start the next morning. Our first tour was South Coast and Waterfalls (landscape images at the end of the blog). The 2-hour journey along the South Coast proved to us the Fulmar were doing extremely well in Iceland and the whole day we had thousands around us on the cliffs and in flight!

"The European Fulmar population is estimated to number between 2.8 million and 4.4 million pairs. Approximately 1-2 million pairs are estimated to breed in Iceland, with 1-5 million birds present over winter."




This image taken with our 18-135mm lens due to the spray of the waterfalls we kept our 400mm dry in the bags! As we were on and off the coach in wet weather we didn't really have chance to see other birds here but plenty of fly-past Raven's also seen and heard throughout the day.

Due to the wet and cloudy weather the Northern Lights was cancelled this evening and we re-booked for the next evening (with clearer skies forecast).

On the morning of the 26th we visited the Blue Lagoon at sunrise, so again not much to report here! We got dropped off near to the Tjörnin Pond this was well frozen back in 2014 (and had thawed this time around) if we knew this, we wouldn't have walked across it with out camera equipment!!

Lots of tourists and locals feeding the wildlife here and plenty to report, including 3 pairs of Red-Breasted Merganser giving superb views in the sunshine.



We counted 80+ Whooper Swans on this pond and the number stayed around the same for the duration we visited. 

We headed back along the harbour after 20+ minutes here and were plenty of new ticks for us here (even if the cold wind was against us)

A sheltered hotdog stand proved a good place for 10+ Redwing and Starling's to feed and were coming within inches of people!



Our first spot along the harbour was 50+ Eider (not all in picture as in separate groups)

After seeing the single Female Eider at W-S-M, it was nice to see a large number of them.


Along the rocks of the harbour were plenty of gulls including Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black Backed Gulls and Common Gulls, we are happy to be corrected on any of our ID's as we found the Iceland and Glaucous Gull's difficult to ID!


This we think is a first-winter Glaucous Gull dwarfing a Herring Gull because of no white tips on the Glaucous)
Glaucous Gull's once adults can be the same size of the Greater Black-Backed Gulls!

Our next spot was no more than 100 yards along, a single Razorbill battling with the waves and wind which made it hard to get a decent image of this little one.


Another 200 yards along the harbour was our next spot, truthfully we couldn't ID until we returned to the hotel but it turns out it was a Black Guillemot and further back a pair of Long-Tailed Ducks in breeding plumage (no images good enough to upload!)

Lastly, a distant Diver appeared and we both agreed it was a winter-plumage Great Northern Diver, being the most common in this area and the white barred plumage on it's neck confirmed the ID (again no images to upload).

Just as we took a right turn away from the harbour about 40 birds came flying alongside the water, waiting for them to stop, we realised they were Purple Sandpiper with a single Turnstone, a flight shot for something different.


We were staying nearby to a Botanical Garden, and it would have been rude not to visit it (Waxwings being reported a few days before), it appeared the heavy snow overnight and the frozen ponds made it a very picturesque landscape, with not one bird spotted!



On the 27th Jan, we headed for the Golden Circle Tour,through the high area's of Þingvellir the snow was extremely heavy and this made visibility very poor (we couldn't see out the windows of the coach and some drivers couldn't either, the amount of stranded cars and even cars in ditches was unreal!)

Plenty more Raven's once we were back on lower ground, this one posed for us and allowed us close with our 135mm lenses.


With a few of our landscapes coming last, we will move onto our last day :(

We left the non-birders to a bit of shopping and headed back to Tjörnin Pond for another 40 minutes.

Lauren and Wayne in action:


Here's a few more images from the Pond:

Glaucous Gull

Pink-Footed Goose 
(The cleanest Goose ever, this was the only image we got as it wasn't cleaning over 4 days!)

Iceland Gull

Greylag Goose (Waffling)

Whooper Swan

Lastly some landscape images:

Skogafoss

Seljalandsfoss

Þingvellir

Of course some of the Northern Lights!



If anyone is looking at visiting Iceland and needs to tips for birdwatching, feel free to contact us and we will try our best to give some good advice! 


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