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in the Autumn

For Birds and Other Nature
on a Fascinating Island

And at an Excellent Time
for a Truly Fascinating Display of Nature:
the AURORA BOREALIS, or "Northern Lights",
in the Night-time Sky

With, by Day, Some Fine Birding as well.

 During our previous tours at this time of year,
White-tailed Eagle & Gyrfalcon.

September 25 - October 3, 2015

(tour: FON/IC-2 '15)

The tour includes a boat-trip on the Breidafjordur Bay  
for the eagles & more.


photographed during a FONT Iceland tour in October 
(photo by Alan Brady)



A Complete Iceland Bird-List     Birds during previous FONT Tours in Iceland  

A List & Photo Gallery of European Birds, in 2 Parts:
Part #1: Grouse to Puffin     Part #2: Sandgrouse to Buntings  

Photos of Birds and Other Nature, Scenery and Culture during previous FONT Iceland Tours:
in Sep/Oct 2013    in June 2012    in June 2009    in June 2006     another earlier tour

Some Highlights from Previous FONT Tours in Iceland

Tour Registration Form

Sometimes during our autumn Iceland tours 
we see flocks of Harlequin Ducks along the coast.
This flock is composed entirely of males.

Our Iceland tour follows the FONT tour SW-1 in southern Sweden, Sep 19-25  at a time of an outstanding bird migration that occurs there in autumn. That tour in the past has been a hit!

Participants on the Sweden Tour, who opt to do their trans-Atlantic flights on Icelandair (the airline of Iceland) can easily do it in conjunction with our tour in Iceland.

Others who participate on the Iceland Tour (without Sweden), would simply fly between Iceland and North America on Icelandair.

Itinerary Information:

Tour participants should arrive in Iceland, Friday, September 25 (having left North America the evening of Thursday, September 24).

Departure from Iceland would be on Saturday, October 3 (arriving in North America the same day).

Flights to/from Iceland are most often be on Icelandair. FONT will arrange these flights in conjunction with this tour.

A General Overview of the Tour and What can be Seen:   

Eight nights would be spent in Iceland: 
two near Reykjavik, (the first & the last, Sep. 25 & Oct. 2),
one night in the north by a picturesque fjord along a pristine coast,
two nights, elsewhere in the north, from where we'll visit Lake Myvatn, (a very good place for birds & interesting geology)
one night in Stykkisholmur (by a beautiful bay known as Breidafjordur),
and two nights along Iceland's southern coast.

In southern Iceland, we'll see glaciers, geysers, & waterfalls, in addition to birds.
In northern Iceland, there's yet more spectacular scenery with volcanoes, hot springs, lakes, & a beautiful coastline near the Arctic Circle.
In western Iceland, we'll be, as just noted, at that beautiful bay known as Breidafjordur, filled with small rocky islands, seals, and birds. That area is the stronghold for the White-tailed Eagle in Iceland. We've enjoyed seeing that species during all of our previous tours.

The nocturnal sky in remote parts of northern & western Iceland will be dark indeed - away from any city lights, thus making it an ideal place, on clear nights, to see some spectacular Aurora Borealis or "Northern Lights". We've seen wonderful displays there during our last 6 October tours!
October is an ideal month to see a splendid show of the Aurora Borealis in Iceland.

The birding in Iceland in October is very good, and fun, as during that month of migration, in addition to the resident birds, there are, among the migrants, always some unexpected vagrants that turn up - having come to Iceland from two directions, either mainland Europe or from North America. With birds during that season, there really is the element of the out-of-the-ordinary appearing.

Among the expected birds, however, there are these: 
White-tailed Eagles
in various plumages, 
the white Gyrfalcon (one time we saw one closely as it caught an all-white Ptarmigan),
numerous Ptarmigan,
flocks of Pink-footed and other Geese,
huge rafts of Eiders giving their plaintive calls, 
Whooper Swans
and Redwings gathering into groups, about to fly southeast to Ireland and England,
Eurasian Golden Plovers on lawns of homes in town, 
and both "white-winged gulls" together at a harbor.

Iceland Gull

Incidentally, the Iceland Gull does not breed in Iceland. Those that we see at that harbor, or elsewhere, will have just arrived from further north. (The Iceland Gull breeds in Greenland.) 
There's another gull from further north that could possibly be seen in Iceland in October - the Ivory Gull. And that would be another nice all-white bird for us to see.

Other northern waterbirds in Iceland in October could include: Fulmar, Kittiwake, Gannet, Skua, and a few alcids. Among the latter, Puffin could be possible along with Murres, Razorbills, and the Black Guillemot.     

And, again, in addition to these birds, there's the culture and interesting natural features already mentioned (such as the geysers, hot springs, volcanoes, & glaciers) and some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere
(The word "geyser", you may know, originated in Iceland.)

Collectively, all of these components that we've just referred to should provide the makings for a very fine tour.

Tour starts and ends at the international airport in Keflavik, Iceland. 

Icelandic scenery, photographed during a FONT Tour. 
This place, in the photo, is near the bay known as  Breidafjordur. 

More Details about Places to be Visited

Fri, Sep 25:  Arrival at Keflavik Airport in Iceland. Upon arrival, transferring of luggage to the hotel in the nearby sea-side town of Keflavik. Breakfast at the hotel, where, at the end of the day, we'll return to spend the night.
Our first day in Iceland, not too far from Keflavik, would nonetheless be a full & wonderful day on the Reykjanes Peninsula. We'll visit the outstanding sea-bird cliffs at Krysuvikurberg, where we'll see various species of alcids, kittiwakes, and gannets. Those cliffs are one part of a national nature reserve known as Reykjanesfolkvangur, and in the area we'll see extensive lava fields that are, many places, covered with green moss. 
We'll stand right on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, as fascinating as it is, geologically, to see it at just about the only place where it's above ground. Most of it, of course, south well into the South Atlantic Ocean, is along the ocean floor. 
A number of small towns rim the Reykjanes Peninsula. We'll visit a few of them, as we observe the nature along the seacoast and in the harbors. Towns include Hafnarfjordur, Grindavik, and Gardur. At the last of these, located at the tip of the peninsula, there's a cape jutting out into the sea, where from a lighthouse, we could see whales, dolphins, and many birds, often feeding in waters filled with fish.

Sat, Sep 26: We'll travel east along the southern coast of Iceland, toward the town of Vik. In that area, we'll spend the night. (Vik is a good place to stay for a number of reasons, but one of them is that it is an Icelandic name that we can pronounce!)
Among some outstanding natural features in southern Iceland, to be on our agenda, would be the huge mass of the Vatnajokull icecap, which is Europe's largest ice sheet, and the 3rd largest in the world (after Antarctica and Greenland). 
Iceland's highest mountain, Hvannadalshnjukur (6,950 feet) sticks its head out above the ice.
Under the ice are several volcanoes, incluidng Grimsvotn. Some periodically erupt and melt areas of ice.
On large spreads of sand and gravel, near the many glaciers, the bird known as the Great Skua nests - more there than anywhere else in the world. Some may still be there, when we are, in September.
During one of our recent fall tours in Iceland, in this area, we observed flocks of migrating Barnacle Geese.    
The southern Icelandic coast is very picturesque, where the mountains meet the sea. Birds and seals will be along the coast. 
Waterfalls abound, including the impressive Svartifoss (named after its black lava columns), and Skogafoss, one of Iceland's most impressive waterfalls.  

Sun, Sep 27: A second day, and night, along the southern Iceland
coast. We may not want to leave, but we'll have to the next morning. 

Mon, Sep 28: We'll travel west and then north, without going into the city of Reykjavik
(which we'll do later in  the tour). Where we will go, however, will be the areas of the Great Geysir (Haukadalur), Gullfoss ( Iceland 's most famous waterfall), and Pingvellir, along the shore of Iceland's largest lake. 
The Great Geysir is probably the most famous geysir in the world, and it gave its name (an Icelandic word) to all the others. The word means "gusher".
Geysirs are spouting hot springs. In the Great Geysir area, there are geysirs, hot springs , mud springs, and fumeroles. (All of these natural features have been given their own Icelandic names.)          
Unfortunately, the Great Geysir no longer erupts, as it once did like clockwork, but its neighbor Strokkur ("a churn") is very active, erupting every 3 to 5 minutes, to a height of over 60 feet. 
The name "Gullfoss" means "golden falls", after the persistent rainbows that are formed by spray on sunny days. The River Hvita, swollen by melting snow and ice in the interior, drops more than 100 feet over two falls. 
Pingvellir is an outstanding place, as scenic as it is, by the large lake, Pingvallavatn. It's also a famous place in Icelandic history, as it was the site of an ancient outdoor parliament about a thousand years ago. On the lake, we'll see waterbirds such as loons and various ducks. By the lake, in the area of Pingvellir, we may well see ptarmigan.
We'll overnight, north & west of Pingvellir, by a beautiful fjord called Hrutajordur.   

Tue, Sep 29: We'll travel, this day, across parts of northern Iceland
(again, as always, scenic) toward Lake Myvatn. We won't be going as far as the lake this day, but instead focusing on the northern coast, and especially near Saudarkrokur
That town, by a large bay, began as a trading post. Today, it's known for fish processing. It's a pleasant town, around which there's much to see and enjoy.
One place, for example, is the Glaumbaer Folk Museum, a complex based at an 18th-century turf farm. Rooms are filled with artifacts from previous centuries. A member of the household would usually read a Saga or recite poetry while others worked. Women would weave and spin, while men would comb wool and make ropes.
Buried on the grounds is Snorri Porfinasson, who is believed to have been the first European born in North America.  That was in the year 1003, when his parents were on an expedition to Vinland
We'll spend the night near Saudarkrokur.

Wed, Sep 30: We'll leave our luggage at the hotel near Saudarkrokur, as we'll be going to spend much of this day in the area of Lake Myvatn. The lake has an area of 14 square miles, but it is shallow with an average depth of just about 8 feet. And so, light penetrates to the bottom, making the water rich in vegetation and nutrients, and thus very attractive to waterfowl. There's probably no lake in the world with more ducks than Myvatn. The numbers present in the summer can be staggering, with about 50,000 pairs and 15 species of ducks. When we visit at the beginning of October, a number of them will still be there.    
The lake contains about 50 islands, most of which are craters, looking like mini-volcanoes. They were, in fact, formed by gas explosions. There has been some volcanic activity in the area since the end of the Ice Age.
Observing the geological features and the numerous birds will make a most interesting day. Our overnight will be back by Saudarkrokur. 

Thu, Oct 1: There will be more scenic travel, this day, as we leave northern Iceland behind, and head west to the north side of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula , and particularly the pleasant port town of Stykkisholmur. (Now that's a mouthful, but it's one of our favorite places during our Iceland tours in the past.)
Stykkisholmur is on the south side of the big bay known as Breidafjorour. Overnight in Stykkisholmur. 

Fri, Oct 2: We'll take a boat-trip this morning on the Breidafjorour Bay, as noted a large body of water, and one in which there are many small islands. Many of them are not inhabited by people, but rather by birds. The area is the remaining haunt, in Iceland, of the White-tailed Eagle, with nearly all of the small population of that species in the country on or by those islands in the bay. Also on and by those islands are many puffins, and other alcids including murres and guillemots, along with shags, eiders, and other birds that we'll see closely from the boat. 
We'll have some wonderful final looks at birds that we'll always relate to as Icelandic.
In the afternoon, we'll head back to the Reykjavik area, where we'll spend our last night.

Sat, Oct 3: We'll have a morning exploring Reykjavik, the only major city in Iceland, and one of the cleanest and most picturesque cities anywhere in the world. Over half the Icelandic population lives in Reykjavik, but that urban area population is not overwhelming with just 170,000 living there. That is more, however, than what there was about 50 years ago, when the population was less than 50,000. 
In the afternoon, we'll be at the international airport, outside Reykjavik at Keflavik, for the flight departing Iceland. Keflavik, we'll all recall, as the place where our Iceland
venture had begun about a week earlier.  


A Reindeer photographed during a FONT Iceland Tour
in October

US $3,195, per person, based upon double occupancy.

Single supplement: US $315.

All overnight accommodations.
Ground transportation 
A boat-ride (on the big, yet sheltered, Breidafjordur Bay where the eagles reside).
Most meals: all breakfasts and lunches.
The services of the FONT tour leader.

Does not include: 
Air transportation. Dinners.
Drinks and any items of a personal nature. 

Focus On Nature Tours can handle your flight arrangements, to get the best fare.

Tour to be led by Armas Hill,
who has traveled in Iceland 19 times,
to see and share the birds & other nature.

 A deposit of US $500 is required to register for this tour.