Atlantic Puffin by Elliott Neep
Situated in the remote North Atlantic, the volcanic island of Iceland is a land of fire and ice and extraordinary contrasts, boasting a proud Viking heritage. Although not well known amongst birders due to its small list of breeding species, those birds that do occur are in many cases abundant, with globally important populations of seabirds, waders and wildfowl. In fact, its towering cliffs host some of the largest seabird colonies on the planet, with five species of breeding alcids, including the adorable Atlantic Puffin.
Also called “sea parrots” and “clowns of the sea” due to their unusual eye and facial marking, these puffins are renowned for their incredible diving capabilities, swimming as deep as 200 ft. (60 m) by flapping their little wings much as if they were flying, and using their webbed, rudder-like feet to steer them. Out of the water they are equally adept, flapping at up to 400 beats a minute, and reaching speeds of almost 90 km (55 mi) an hour!
Our Birding Iceland tour explores several sites to view these cute and comical creatures, including visiting a large breeding colony on Flatey Island.
These lovely little birds are just one of many potential highlights on our upcoming trip to this seldom-birded destination. Covering an array of habitats, ranging from lakes and wetlands teeming with divers, ducks and waders, to volcanoes, lava fields, crystal clear rivers, plains, mountains, coastline, islands and even open sea, we will scour this beautiful island for such gems as Barrow’s Goldeneye (here at its only European breeding ground), Gyr Falcon, White-tailed Eagle, King Eider, Eurasian Woodcock, Harlequin Duck, Iceland Gull, the stunning Red‐necked Phalarope, Purple Sandpiper and European Golden Plover in their breeding plumage.
In addition, Iceland is also a premier whale-watching destination, and we can expect some fantastic sightings of these magnificent, gentle giants on an exciting boat trip to one of the outlying islands. As a backdrop to all this is the country itself, with its spectacular waterfalls, glaciers, stunning volcanic scenery, fascinating geology and geothermal sites, including the world-famous geothermal field at Geysir, making for superb and other-worldly scenery at every turn.
If you would like to join us on this European birding adventure with a difference, our Birding Iceland tour (27 May – 05 Jun 2015, €3,550 pp sharing) still has some spaces available. For more information, click on the above link or contact Crystal at email@example.com
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