This weekend my wife and I went to Iceland. It is only a one hour flight from the Faroe and the tickets are cheap. We agreed that one day was for birding and sightseeing and the other day was for relaxing and shopping. Not hard to guess who wished what.
We arrived in Keflavík shortly after noon and got a cap to our hotel in Keflavík. By “coincidence” my lovely wife had chosen a hotel where the American White-winged Scoter could be seen from our room (Keilir Hóltel – can be recommend), so within minutes of arriving I got American White-winged Scoter as a lifer.
Iceland is such a familiar yet strange place for Faroese people. And reading Icelandic is easy and you can understand at least 80% of everything. But speaking is another matter. But slowly you can solve the riddle and during the end of our stay at least 10 expeditions in stores, the hotel and the airport were done in Icelandic. Just remember that Icelandic au is like Faroese ø, ei is ey, á is au, æ is ei, f is sometimes f and sometimes b, k never turns out to be tj like and Faroese and… ok, just stick your tongue out and pronounce Faroes with a Danish accent and you got Icelandic 😛
On Saturday we met with the entire active Icelandic birding community (according to themselves) – the Scottish Englishman Edward and the Great Grandfather Simmi. We met shortly after dawn and went to Lambhagi, where Edward saw the American Coot – but we couldn’t find it as it had evaporated (probably went hiding under the brink of the stream).
So we tried for the Hooded Merganser and located it along the river Elliðaá. What a beautiful bird.
Then we drove further south were we saw about 10 Barrow’s Goldeneyes – a species that I’ve only seen once as I found one on the Faroes a few years back. We also saw arctic fox-tracks but no foxes.
Edward had got some info on where to see Rock Ptarmigans, so we went on and 50 minutes hike in the snow to a small patch of trees. The reward was great though – about 40 Rock Ptarmigans where both seen and heard at proper distance. It was almost like doing the mount Kazbegi with the same lads a few years ago!
Then we went to Thórlakshøfn, where we saw hundreds of Iceland Gulls and Glaucous Gulls, but no megas.
So we returned to Lambhagi, where the American Coot was finally relocated and gave proper views. A nice wp-tick for me.
Apart for the birds it was amazing the see the landscape, hanging out with the lads and make fun of Yann and the Pallid Harrier…
Thanks to Simmi and Edward for an amazing day in the field!
We then headed back to the hotel and used the next day in the Blue Lagoon and down town Reykjavík – the only bird seen on that day was a Snow Bunting.
The last morning we had a few hours before departure, so we checked Garður, Sandgerði and Hafnir. Lots of gulls including Viking Gull and Kumlien’s Gull but the highlight were 20+ Harlequin Ducks around Hafnir.
All in all an amazing weekend with American Coot, American White-winged Scoter, Hooded Merganser, Barrow’s Goldeneye and Harlequin Duck… It was only the Gyr Falcon that we missed. But ok, I saw one on the Faroes just two weeks ago, so no complaints from me!