ICELAND – WINTER
20–23 February 2018
Harlequin Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye and Gyrfalcon, three Western Palearctic species at the edges of their ranges, will be our main targets. We will also look out for Rock Ptarmigan and White-tailed Eagle and search along the coast for King Eider and an over-wintering Thick-billed Murres. Given suitable weather conditions of an evening, we will head away from the artificial lighting to seek the spectacular Aurora Borealis.
Day 1 Flight from London to Keflavik followed by a short drive to our base for the next three nights. If we have time before dusk, we will stop to look at the numerous wintering Iceland Gulls and resident Glaucous Gulls.
Day 2 Our first destination today will be Steingrimsstöd where, at the power station, river and Lake Ullfjötsvatn, we will look for Barrow's Goldeneye. We will also visit the River Sog, which is a good locality for this species. Harlequin Ducks are also possible here but we are more likely to see them on the coast. As we drive between sites, we will keep an eye open for the cryptically-camouflaged Rock Ptarmigan as well as for Gyr Falcon. Other species we may see during the day include Whooper Swan, Goosander and Common Raven. After dinner, we will drive away from the city lights to seek the spectacular Aurora Borealis, hoping that the weather conditions will be kind to us.
Day 3 This morning we will visit Gardskagi Point where we will look for Common and Red-throated Loons, European Shag, Purple Sandpiper and Razorbill. During the rest of the day we will visit other areas along the coast, including various harbours, looking for Harlequin Duck and King Eider amongst the numerous Common Eiders. There will be some Long-tailed Ducks and Red-breasted Mergansers, too. Black Guillemots are also resident along this coastline and we will watch carefully all the time for an over-wintering Thick-billed Murre. In the afternoon we will visit a small area of woodland (rare in Iceland!) close to the city where we will seek Redwing and Common Redpoll. Throughout the day we will be keeping a lookout for White-tailed Eagle, Gyrfalcon and Snow Bunting. After dinner, if we have been unsuccessful the previous night, we will again drive away from the city lights to seek the spectacular Aurora Borealis.
Day 4 As our flight home is not until the afternoon, we will use the morning to revisit sites with the aim of catching up with any species we may be missing.
General Information The climate can vary from mild to bitterly cold, with rain or snow possible, so warm and waterproof clothes are essential. The tour pace is moderate with generally easy walks mostly on level (but possibly icy!) ground. There are no special health requirements.
Group Size Minimum number for tour to go ahead: 2; maximum group size: 10 with 2 leaders.