Iceland: Land of Fire & Ice

From Saturday, June 01, 2019
To Monday, June 10, 2019
 
Kirkjufell and falls, Iceland.  Photo by David Mark.  All rights reserved.
 
Kirkjufell (peak) and Kirkjufellfoss (falls), Iceland.  Photo by David Mark (all rights reserved). 

 

An other-worldly accident of volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, lava fields, geysers, fjords and black sand beaches, Iceland must be seen to be believed.  Astride the American and European tectonic plates, this island on the edge of the Arctic Circle is still being shaped by the geologic forces that created it.  And, with fewer than one-third of a million people, wildness dominates. It is noteworthy that all of Iceland’s electricity is generated from geothermal and hydropower.

This tour is designed for birders who want to experience Iceland. As with most islands and subarctic locations, one shouldn’t expect high biodiversity. But, DO expect high quality species and bird behavior. The spectacle of breeding birds carrying on elaborate courtship displays cannot be understated. Memorable experiences may include Atlantic Puffins fluttering down from grass-topped basalt columns, or dozens of winnowing Common Snipe arcing across the sky simultaneously. The primary attraction of Iceland is scenic and cultural, but being amongst birders, nobody’s going to get upset when we stop the van for that roadside Rock Ptarmigan…or the Gyrfalcon that’s drooling over it from a cliff-top vantage.     

Length:  10 days

Why this timing:  Mild weather, breeding birds (including active seabird colonies)

What we like most here:  Breeding bird behavior, tender cuts of lamb or Arctic char for dinner, and waterfalls within sight at all times. Oh, and the world’s best drinking water!

Top birds:  Whooper Swan, Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck (Oldsquaw), Rock Ptarmigan, Northern Fulmar, Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant, Black-tailed Godwit, Purple Sandpiper, Great Skua, Common and Thick-billed Murre, Razorbill, Atlantic Puffin, Black-legged Kittiwake, Arctic Tern, White-tailed Eagle, Gyrfalcon, Northern Wheatear, Redwing, White Wagtail, Snow Bunting

Other wildlife:  Minke, Humpback, and Blue Whales, White-beaked Dolphin, Harbor and Gray Seals; chance for Arctic Fox (the only native land mammal)

Other attractions:  Incredible geology (including geysers), hot springs, midnight sun, Viking culture, Arctic Circle

Climate:  Cool but not typically cold (except on boating excursions). 45-65°F, chance of drizzle at any time, but often sunny in the north

Environment:  Unimpeded views of truly awesome landscapes. Primarily coastal habitats, marshes/bogs; grassland; open tundra-like habitat (moorland and heathland). Isolated stands of native birch trees; reforestation efforts in recent years have been undertaken to halt erosion.

Pace/style of the tour:  Relaxed. Short walks over relatively level ground up to a mile.

Group size:  Minimum 6 participants, maximum 12; 2 leaders.

Lodging/meals:  Modern, basic hotels throughout

Mode of transportation:  Van or minibus

Health/safety topics:  No health concerns, but bring a head net for one day only of non-biting midges at Lake Mývatn (Midge Lake); they are annoying. Iceland is rated as the most peaceful country in the world by the Global Peace Index. There is no standing army. Crime is virtually non-existent.

Leader:  John Yerger
 
Cost:  $6,495 – includes all accommodations, all meals, all ground transportation, internal flight, and all entrance fees beginning and ending in Reykjavik.
 
TO REGISTER: call 1-877-BIRDERS [247-3377] or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..