In the northern lowlands,
between the villages of Hvammstangi and Blonduos, there is an area of
lagoons, lakes and marshlands, offering a variety of waterfowl.
In spring, hundreds of whooper swans feed in the lagoons and on
the flooded marshes while waiting for the ice on the highland lakes to
thaw. Gyr falcons nest on
cliffs near the lagoon of Vesturhop practically every year.
The wide and fertile Skagafjordur District also has a varied
avifauna and this is the main resting place for the barnacle goose on
its way to its
nesting grounds in Greenland.
On the delta of the river Heradsvotn, near the town
Saudarkrokur, there is an extremely good area which is often
overlooked by bird-watchers, but which holds almost all the duck
species found in Iceland. Besides
the common waders, such as dunlins and whimbrels, there are also
considerable numbers of black-tailed godwits.
The high, rocky Drangey Island on the bay has numerous cliff
birds and here, as on all the cliffs in northern Iceland, Brünnich’s
guillemots outnumber the ordinary guillemots.
A pair of gyr falcons nest almost every year in Drangey.
The Eyjafiord District has many river deltas with much the same
species as in the Skagafiord region.
Common gulls occur here in a number of places among
In Akureyri, the
principal town of the north, redwings and redpolls are very common,
and this is the only place in the country where fieldfares have nested
several times, although not as yet regularly.
The Hrisey Island has an exceptionally large population of
ptarmigans. There are
regular ferry and flight connections between Akureyri and the Grimsey
Island on the polar circle. Among
the bird species are occasional little auks nesting.
Wrens are common in the forest Vaglaskogur, one of the largest
birch woods in the country, about 17 km east of Akureyri. The lowlands beyond the Skjalfandi Bay form the best
ptarmigan country in Iceland.
Lake Myvatn area, particularly renowned for its waterfowl, provides
the main breeding grounds of all the 16 species of ducks which nest in
Iceland. The delta of
River Laxa has a few large eider colonies, the river itself has
harlequins, goosanders and Barrow’s goldeneyes, and the lake is an
veritable paradise for ducks. The
most common species on Lake Myvatn are scaups and tufted ducks which
appear in almost equal numbers. Other
common species are Barrow’s goldeneyes, common scoters, long-tailed
ducks and red-breasted mergansers.
widgeons, gadwalls and teals are the most numerous of the
dabbling or surface-feeding ducks, and mallards, pintails and
shovelers are less common. Goldeneyes
and American widgeons are recorded annually in the Lake Myvatn
area, although there is no evidence of nesting.
There are other birds too, including several hundred slavonian
grebes and many land birds. Nowhere
else in Iceland are snipes and red-necked phalaropes more abundant.
Several pairs of gyr falcons and merlins nest in the mountains
and in the larger lava stacks in the area.
Merlins are also widely distributed throughout the country.
The Oxarfjordur District
has another good waterfowl lake, Vikingavatn, sometimes called “The
Small Lake Myvatn”, because almost all the same species of ducks are
also found there in large numbers.
The extensive, sandy delta of River Jokulsa a Fjollum is the
nesting grounds for a few hundred pairs of great skuas, the only
colony in the north. On
Raudinupur, a promontory in the northeastern corner of the mouth of
the Oxarfiord Bay, there is a small colony of gannets.
Off the shore of this part of the country, long-tailed- and
pomarine skuas are occasionally seen on migration.