ICELAND – SPRING
18–23 May 2017
Iceland is world-famous for its spectacular volcanic scenery, hot springs and geysers. Amongst birders, it is more frequently thought of as home to highly-desirable and charismatic species including Harlequin Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Gyrfalcon and Thick-billed Murre (Brünnich’s Guillemot). We will look for all of these specialities, plus White-tailed Eagle and Red Phalarope, as we take advantage of the country’s long summer days.
Day 1 Flight from London to Keflavik, the airport that serves the capital, Reykjavik. On our way along the Reykjanes peninsula we will stop several times to see some of Iceland's most widespread species including Red-throated Loon, Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Common Eider, Black-tailed Godwit, Red-necked Phalarope, Parasitic Jaeger, Arctic Tern and Redwing, all of which will be encountered throughout the tour. We may also see Manx Shearwater and Brant (hrota). Three nights in a hotel in the south of the island.
Day 2 Today we will experience both the grandeur of glaciers and the excitement of seabird colonies. Target birds will include Great Skua, Glaucous Gull, Black Guillemot and Atlantic Puffin and we will also have a good chance of locating the inappropriately named, non-native Iceland Gull.
Day 3 Our attention will focus largely on wetlands today, which will give us an opportunity to see Harlequin Duck and Barrow's Goldeneye. There is a small chance of Red Phalarope and we will certainly try to find one. Other species we will look out for include Iceland Gull and Snow Bunting. We'll search for Gyrfalcons and Merlins as well.
Day 4 We travel to west Iceland today calling at the historic site of Þingvellir on the way. We expect to find Common and Red-throated Loons, more Barrow's Goldeneyes and Red-necked Phalaropes. We'll spend the next two nights on Snæfellsnes, home to some of the best birding in the country.
Day 5 A day exploring the magnificent Snæfellsnes peninsula. We expect to find all the breeding species of Iceland's auks including Thick-billed Murre. Seabirds are everywhere and we'll all see waders galore. We'll look out for Horned Grebes resplendent in breeding plumage. There's a good chance of locating White-tailed Eagle and Gyrfalcon as well. If that's not enough then we've also a good chance of seeing cetaceans offshore.
Day 6 We'll visit Borgarnes and do some birding there before heading via Iceland's capital Reykjavík to the airport for our late afternoon return flight home.
General Information The climate can be highly variable but it is unlikely to be hot! Rain is possible. The tour pace is moderate but with some early starts and late finishes, as there will be 20+ hours of daylight at this time of year. Walking is generally easy but there may be some uneven surfaces. There are no special health requirements. Insects may be a problem at times and repellents are recommended.
Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 4; maximum group size: 8 with 1 leader.