My Iceland List

Over 6 days in Iceland, I managed to tally 34 species, including 5 life birds. Not bad at all, especially considering that birding was not the primary focus of the trip, I didn’t have a guide, my scope broke on Monday, and it was October just below the Arctic Circle:

  • Common Snipe
  • Eurasian Wigeon
  • Red-throated Loon
  • Common Redshank
  • Dunlin
  • Long-tailed Duck
  • Northern Gannet
  • Eurasian Oystercatcher
  • Wren
  • Eurasian Blackbird
  • Redwing
  • Common Redpoll
  • Graylag Goose
  • Mallard
  • Mew Gull
  • Red-breasted Merganser
  • Rock Pigeon
  • Whooper Swan
  • Tufted Duck
  • Common Raven
  • Common Loon
  • Common Murre
  • Ruddy Turnstone
  • Purple Sandpiper
  • Iceland Gull
  • Herring Gull
  • Great Cormorant
  • Glaucous Gull
  • Great Black-backed Gull
  • European Starling
  • European Shag
  • European Golden-Plover
  • Black-headed Gull
  • Common Eider

Most of these I saw multiple times in multiple locations. The only singletons were Wren, Common Redshank, Dunlin, Common Murre, Northern Gannet, and European Shag.

I also missed several species I thought would be easy:

  • Snow Bunting
  • Ptarmigan
  • White-tailed Eagle
  • Gyr Falcon

There were also a lot of really heart-breaking unidentified birds on the beaches and out on the ocean. The wind knocked my scope over onto the sidewalk and broke it on Monday, so my ability to ID species further out was severely limited. Sea watching at any distance really wasn’t possible, and shore birds were tough. I also left my 1.4x teleconverter home since I rarely use it since my camera won’t autofocus with it, but in this case it probably would have helped. Final thing I should have broght and didn’t were clothes that were suitable for lying down on the beach and crawling slowly toward the birds. On the other end, I didn’t need the long underwear or Patagonia fleece I did bring so there could have been room for this. :-(

Clearly I have to go back. However next time I’ll try to aim for breeding season, May and June. I’m trying to convince my wife that she should record her next CD in Reykjavik, but she wants to do it in the Bronx. Doesn’t she know that aren’t any life birds left in the Bronx? :-)

One Response to “My Iceland List”

  1. Paul Clapham Says:

    Absolutely you should go there in June. There are Common Eiders all along every shoreline all trailing their dozen chicks. The snipe are winnowing and they don’t hide in the grass, they sit up on posts pretending to be redshanks. The Arctic Terns are breeding beside and across roads and you’ll see the big orange signs warning drivers to be careful as they drive by. (We were there in the second half of June, May might possibly be too early.)

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