Iceland 2015

Fulmars on Flatey Island Iceland © Nanci Bell

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June 2015

Bill Gette led a group of 15 Mass Audubon travelers on a birding and natural history exploration of Iceland this past June. The group enjoyed beautiful scenery, exciting wildlife, amazing geology, and interesting villages and people. Participants voted on the top birds seen and submitted highlights from the trip as follows.

Top Ten Birds

  1. White-tailed Eagle
  2. Black-tailed Godwit
  3. Great Skua
  4. Red-throated Loon
  5. Gyrfalcon
  6. Arctic Tern
  7. Atlantic Puffin
  8. Common Snipe
  9. Eurasian Oystercatcher
  10. Red-necked Phalarope

Trip Highlights

  • Having picnic lunches in beautiful places
  • Experiencing Flatey Island – having Red-necked Phalaropes at our feet – seeing the beautiful church with the murals depicting life on the island
  • Driving around the Snӕfellsnes Peninsula and stopping to view seabird nesting cliffs – walking the 2.5 km trail along the coast from Hellnar to Arnarstapi
  • Watching and hearing the male Common Snipes doing their courtship displays
  • The adult Red-throated Loon with its young hiding on the tiny island among the yellow Marsh Marigolds (Ólafsvik)
  • The adult White-tailed Eagle feeding its young – a distant view, but good enough
  • The Arctic Fox running up the steep hillside on our first day; as well as Iceland ponies
  • Listening to Trausti’s many stories and his wonderful explanations of the geological forces that have, and still are, shaping Iceland
  • Walking through the rift zone where Iceland is being pulled apart – partly in Europe and partly in North America
  • Seeing the seabird nesting colonies – wondering how the Black-legged Kittiwakes can stay on the very narrow cliff shelves
  • Botanizing – such beautiful flowers
  • Walking around the geyser at Geysir and feeling the spray
  • Seeing the dorsal fins of the Killer Whales swimming off Öndverðarnes (Snӕfellsnes Peninsula)
  • Experiencing the Beserkas lava field
  • Enjoying our first breakfast in Iceland at the Keflavík Hotel – imagine, chocolate cake for breakfast
  • Climbing to the top of a volcanic crater
  • Walking on Hrisey Island and seeing the Rock Ptarmigan – walking slowly together so that we could all get great photos
  • Being with a great group of folks who all contributed to the success of the trip!