Technically, our tour of Iceland was for more than birding, but birds became the focus. In June, 117 bird species were reported in Iceland, many of them nesting. We saw 78 of those species. Fifty-eight of those species were “life birds” for me (first time seeing them). The chance to see so many exotic lifers was reason enough for us to visit Iceland.
Of course, everyone everywhere love puffins, the smallest charismatic megafauna, oft maligned as “the clowns of the sea,” but undeniably charming. (And tasty, if old Icelanders are to be believed. Boycott restaurants serving puffin or whale.)
We spent hours on Heimey in the Westman Islands, so called by the Vikings who found the Celts — the West men — were already there).
But wait, there’s more. We went from never seeing a common eider to seeing why they’re called common. We saw ONE King Eider. We saw whooping swans on puddles. We saw gulls I still can’t tell apart from each other. At a distance, we saw a white-tailed eagle on its nest. Closer, we saw gyrfalcon. We saw a few of Odin’s own favorite Ravens.
If I had to pick one, it’s not the puffin, but the sweet little palm-sized red-necked phalarope, which were also almost everywhere. Earlier this year, we went to Bosque del Apache hoping to see the very-rare-there phalarope, not appreciating we were looking for such a tiny needle in such a large haystack. In Iceland, look anywhere, especially at your feet, and you may see a red-necked phalarope, my favorite.
For the curious, here is a link to the ebird trip report which includes ALL of the species the group saw. The link goes to those with photos taken by anyone / everyone (not just mine). From there, you can link to all species, all checklist, or individual members of the group.