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.

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Page 67 of 73

Birding in Iceland 66 Birder's Guide to Travel | April 2018 Lesser Black-backed Gull are ubiquitous there (and in many places near the coast, not just at Reykjavik) with some Great Black-backed and Herring mixed in. Reykjavik is also probably the best area in Iceland for winter birding. The Iceland Gull, ironically enough, does not breed in Iceland, and is not easily seen in the sum- mer months. But they are common in the winter months, and the coastlines and harbors around Reykjavik are some of the best places to study them closely. Most of the rarities found in the winter are record- ed in or near Reykjavik, probably a result of Reykjavik being home to two-thirds of the human population of the country, and thus also the majority of Iceland's birders. (By the way, the population of Iceland is only about 325,000; with two-thirds of those in Reykjavik, one can imagine just how empty and remote most of the rest of the country really is.) There are many other areas around Reykjavik to bird, and these are covered in Birding in Reykjavik by Christophe Pampoulie, available in Icelandic book- stores, in eBook format (for iPad), or on- line at S outh of the town of Selfoss and about 40 miles (65 km) southeast of Reykjavik is Friðlandið í Flóa, or in English, the Floi Bird Reserve (63.8686,-21.1527). This is a must-see destination for its popula- tion of breeding Red-throated Loons and Black-tailed Godwits, the two key species at the site. Both species occur throughout the country, but Floi is one of the easiest places to see and photograph them. Floi also holds several pairs of nesting Parasitic Jaegers and a few Great Skuas may be seen off the coast. Other species there include Whimbrel (which in Iceland are of the nominate, European subspecies), Common Snipe, Dunlin, Red-necked Phalarope, and European Oystercatcher. First-time visitors to Iceland will al- ready be overwhelmed by the remarkable Icelandic landscape just around Keflavik and Reykjavik. But as the Ring Road heads east past Selfoss and out into the true wilds of Iceland, the sheer beauty of the coun- try reaches a whole different level. From green pastures to dramatic waterfalls, and vast plains of lava flows, massive gla- ciers, and dramatic seaside cliffs, southern Iceland really must be seen to be believed. Aside from the occasional Parasitic Jaeger, and the ubiquitous Common Redshanks, Meadow Pipits, and White Wagtails, the birding can be sparse along long stretches of the Ring Road in this region, but one will hardly notice as every new curve in the road seems to offer yet another picture postcard vista. There are a number of good birding destinations even in this region of lava plains and goat pasture. The first is Vik (63.4198, -19.0072), a charming, sleepy, n Hörgárdalur Valley. Photo © Geoff Malosh

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