Friday, 16 August 2013

Iceland Cruise 24th July, 2013 to 5th August, 2013.

Iceland Cruise, 2013

Terry and Jill were already booked to go on the P and O cruise to Iceland, and after I cleared it with my Consultant, Doreen and myself also booked on at the bargin all in price of £490 each, which included all meals, entertainment etc., and the food was superb. This was not a birding holiday but needless to say we did take along our binoculars and cameras.
We sailed out of Southampton at 4.45pm on the 24th on the cruise liner Oriana. After a day at sea, passing along the Cornish coast into the Irish sea we docked at Dublin on the 26th. Unfortunately weather was unsettled with heavy rain at times which prevented our sight-seeing and we returned to the liner earlier than expected.

On the 27th we finished sailing out of the Irish sea along the Scottish West coast passing many of the Outer Hebrides also St. Kilda and on the 28th we sailed North of Rockall to Iceland. We docked at Reykjavik on the 29th and spent an interesting day touring inland looking at various geysers and geothermal areas, and also included a walk in the Pingvellir National Park.

The following morning, the 30th, we docked at Isafjordur and Terry and Jill went to an uninhabited Island whilst Doreen and myself walked to a nearby plantation and birded around the harbour and port area.
The 31st we docked at Akureyri  and caught a coach to Husavik passing enroute a female Barrow's Goldeneye with two young. Here we boarded a whale watching boat, but by now the weather had started to become wet and windy and after 20 minutes the Skipper decided it was just to rough to continue, and unfortunately abandoned the trip. After doing some sight-seeing around Akureyri we made our way back to the Oriana.

All day at sea on the 1st around N.E.Iceland crossing the Arctic Circle, before heading towards the Faroe Islands arriving at Klaksvik on the 2nd. The weather was still mixed and windy but we discovered a nice wooded park about a mile out of the port and we spent some time looking for any Two-barred Crossbills which may have found this area, but without success. Unfortunately, it had now come onto rain quite hard and so we made our way back to the Oriana.

The 3rd, we headed back South down the West coast of Scotland but the weather was again wet and misty for long periods. Our last full day, cruising through the Irish sea and some way off the Cornish coast, arriving back at Southampton by early morning on the 5th.

Although not a bird-watching trip we did do quite a lot of sea-watching, although most of the time we found it difficult using the bow of the liner due to the strong wind which made holding your binoculars difficult and was also very unpleasant, although when possible we did sea-watch from the bow.

We obviously recorded good numbers of common sea-birds which I won't list:
Slavonian Grebe 8 on a loch near Akureyri on the 31st.
Mediterranean Gull 6 as we left Southampton on the 24th
Manx Shearwater 120+ on the 25th, 15 on the 27th, 100 on the 28th, 30 on the 29th, 60 on the 3rd, with 400 on the 4th.
Whooper Swan 10 on the 29th,
Grey-lag 50 on the 29th,
Tufted Duck 6 on the 30th
Barrow's Goldeneye 1 female with 2 young close to the road on our way to Husavik on the 31st.
Eider Common on Iceland
Bonxie 2 on the 25th, 1 on the 27th, 5 on the 28th, 3 on the 29th, 4 on the 1st Aug, with 5 on the 2nd, and 3 seen on the 3rd.
Arctic Skua 2 on the 29th, 1 on the 31st, 2 seen on the 3rd.
Glaucous Gull 2 adults on the 29th, 10+ on the 30th,
Iceland Gull 2+ adults on the 29th, 3 on the 30th,
Sabines Gull 1 Adult going into winter plumage 12 miles NW of Skye on the 27th
Storm Petrel 10 on the 27th
Leach's Petrel 1 on the 28th (TEC)
Whimbrel 30 on the 29th,
Ruff 2 on the 31st.
Golden Plover c30 seen on the 31st.
Purple Sandpiper 30 on the 30th, 2 on the 31st.
Red-necked Phalarope 6 on the sea on 29th coming into Reykjavik Harbour, & 2 on a loch near Husavik on the 31st (TEC)
Black Guillemot 6 seen from the Whale watching boat on the 31st.
Puffin 10 on the 29th, 40 on the 30th, 100+ on the 31st, c200 seen on the 3rd, with 60 on the 4th.
Little Auk 4 in summer plumage on the 31st (TEC).
Rock Dove 6 seen on the Faroe's on the 2nd.
Wren 1 of the endemic race seen on the Faroes on the 2nd. (DRC)
Wheatear c20 many juveniles seen on the Faroes on the 2nd.
Redwing 6 on the 29th, 1 on the 30th,
Willow Warbler 2 seen in the plantation on the Faroes on the 2nd.
Rock Pipit 2 on the 30th
Raven 6 on the 30th,
Hooded Crow 5 seen on the Faroes on the 2nd.
Starling 30 of the endemic race seen on the Faroes on the 2nd

Minke Whale 2 on the 28th, 1-2 on the 29th,
Long-finned Pilot Whale 1-2 on the 28th.
Bottle-nosed Dolphin 2 on the 25th
Common Dolphin 34 on the 25th
White-beaked Dolphin 30 on the 27th
Atlantic White-sided Dolphin 4 on the 27th
Sunfish 1 on the 27th


Some of the Manx Shearwaters flying at the bow of the Oriana off Cornwall.

Goon numbers of Gannets were seen in British waters but just the
odd birds were seen off N. Iceland.

Small numbers of Bonxies were seen almost daily.

This fine adult Sabines Gull in transitional plumage was seen
12 miles NW off the Isle of Skye.

Sunset off the Western Isles.

Approaching Reykjavik Harbour.

We spent a pleasant couple of hours in the Pingvellir National Park.

Terry enjoying the views in the Pingvellir National Park.

Juvenile Redwing in the Pingvellir National Park.

Views as we toured inland of Reykjavik.

This small church was built by a local farmer in memory of his wife.


Our next stop was at this geothermal activity area where geysirs,
hot springs and boiling mud pools. Iceland richer than any other
country with their hot springs etc, and their largest hot spring
produces 55 gallons of hot water every second.

One of the local Troll's watches over the sight.

Busy Strokkur Geysir as it happened.

A nearby geothermal plant.

Visited the Gullfoss waterfall on our way back to Reykjavik.

Back on board the liner and whilst watching some White-winged Gulls 
off the stern large numbers of jellyfish came past, this is just part 
of the numbers seen.

Adult Glaucous Gull in Reykjavik Harbour

Adult Iceland Gull flying through Reykjavik Harbour.

Arriving next morning at Isafjordur.

Doreen checking her photographs.

Views of this attractive town from the Port of Isafjordur.

One of the attractive gardens at Isafjordur.

We birded in this plantation hoping for Two-barred Crossbill without any luck.

Views from Isafjordur.

The Oriana at dock at Isafjordur.

Quite a few Eider seen in the harbour including this delightful family party.

Raven on the sea-shore at Isafjordur.

A party of 30 Purple Sandpipers were present on the jetty.

Several immature Glaucous Gulls were present around the Harbour.

Leaving Isafjordur behind and heading towards Akureyri.

After our abandoned Whale watching trip, we visited several sites 
around Husavik including the Godafoss waterfall.

I wonder what Doreen and Jill are photographing??

Back on board the Oriana heading towards Klaksvile in the Faroe
Islands. Hundreds of Fulmars but only 2 dark phase birds seen.

Lesser Black-back Gull appeared to be the commonest Gull, but I
wonder what races were involved.


Arriving at Klaksvile in the Faroe Islands, but unfortunately a 
wet and windy day. Doreen found out about a decent size 
plantation about a mile away, and we made our way there seeing 
the endemic Starling race S.t. faroensis. It appeared 
different to our race, with the steep forehead.

As we were leaving Klaksvile port an adult Iceland Gull was watched
chasing an adult Glaucous Gull which gave a good view of the size
difference of the two species.

Adult Glaucous Gull in the Faroe's.




On our way South past Western Scotland, many Gannets including 
several close immature plumage birds were present around the Oriana.

Also good numbers of Manx Shearwaters were seen.
As we past Cornwall, we were unable to see the coast line, and
we must have been some way out to sea and very few sea-birds
were now being seen. 
We arrived back at Southampton early the following morning.