Birder's Guide

MAR 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

Issue link: http://bg.aba.org/i/979790

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List of regular breeders –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––– Graylag Goose Pink-footed Goose Barnacle Goose Whooper Swan Common Shelduck Eurasian Wigeon Gadwall Eurasian (Green-winged) Teal Mallard Northern Pintail Northern Shoveler Tufted Duck Greater Scaup Common Eider Harlequin Duck Long-tailed Duck Common Scoter Barrow's Goldeneye Red-breasted Merganser Goosander (Common Merganser) Rock Ptarmigan Common Loon Red-throated Loon Horned Grebe Northern Fulmar Manx Shearwater European Storm-Petrel Leach's Storm-Petrel Northern Gannet Great Cormorant European Shag White-tailed Eagle Merlin Gyrfalcon Eurasian Oystercatcher Common Ringed Plover European Golden-Plover Purple Sandpiper Dunlin Common Snipe Eurasian Woodcock Black-tailed Godwit Whimbrel Common Redshank Red-necked Phalarope Red Phalarope Parasitic Jaeger Great Skua Common Gull Lesser Black-backed Gull Glaucous Gull Herring Gull Great Black-backed Gull Black-headed Gull Black-legged Kittiwake Arctic Tern Common Murre Thick-billed Murre Razorbill Black Guillemot Atlantic Puffin Rock Pigeon Snowy Owl Short-eared Owl Meadow Pipit White Wagtail Eurasian Wren Northern Wheatear Common Blackbird Redwing Goldcrest Common Raven European Starling House Sparrow Common Redpoll Snow Bunting 65 April 2018 | Birder's Guide to Travel left: n European Oystercatcher. Photo © Jesús Rodríguez Fernández right: n White-tailed Eagle. Photo © Martha de Jong-Lantink the like, especially away from Reykjavik, will go a long way toward keeping one's wallet from spontaneously combusting during the trip. It is possible, and really not that difficult, to travel in Iceland on a reasonable budget, but it takes some plan- ning and willingness. What You'll See Bird diversity is pretty poor in Iceland. For example, on a two-week trip in summer 2013, I only saw 63 species and probably could have pushed that only to about 75 or 80 if I had tried very hard and had not been so focused on photography. About 385 species have been recorded in the country, and just 76 of those are regular breeders. The lack of diversity is more than made up for by the sheer volume of birds and their beauty. Can't-miss birds in summer include such marvels as Red-throated Loon, Northern Fulmar, Eurasian Oystercatcher, European Golden-Plover, Whimbrel, Black-tailed Godwit, Great Skua, Parasitic Jaeger, Razorbill, Atlantic Puffin, Arctic Tern, and many others, all in high breed- ing plumage. Passerine diversity in Iceland is extremely poor, but the native species that reside there are all flashy birds of the far north: Northern Wheatear, Eurasian Wren, White Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Snow Bunting, and Common Redpoll. Okay, so Eurasian Wren and Meadow Pipit aren't flashy, but they're cool anyway. Add in 16 species of breeding ducks (the most of any European country), huge colonies of seabirds, or the chance to glimpse the mighty Gyrfalcon or the even-mightier White-tailed Eagle, and there are plenty of reasons to bird Iceland in the summertime, even if running up a big list isn't one of them. Where To Go Iceland is an amazing and beautiful coun- try; despite its rather small size (it's smaller in area than 37 U.S. states—slightly larger than Indiana), one could easily spend an entire year there and still not see all there is to see. Most of the prime birding des- tinations are close to the coast and easily reached via the Ring Road. The following suggested areas for birding are listed in order as they are reached along the Ring Road heading southeast out of Reykjavik, beginning with Reykjavik itself. The capital city of Reykjavik offers a few excellent birding sites. One of the nicest areas for birding and photog- raphy near the city is the area around Seltjarnarnes (GPS: 64.1586,-22.0130), which lies on a peninsula to the west of the center of downtown. In the summer months, there is an Arctic Tern colony on the golf course, and the park and its small lake and nearby shoreline are good for European Oystercatcher, Common Ringed Plover, Common Eider, Common Redshank, and assorted summering ducks and gulls. Black-headed Gull and

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