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Puffin (lat. fratercula arctica) with catch of fish © Gaukur Hjartarson
Puffin (lat. fratercula arctica) with catch of fish © Gaukur Hjartarson

With a range of different landscapes and many different terrains within easy reach, Húsavík is an excellent base from which to explore Iceland’s ornithology. The entire northeast of Iceland is notoriously known among bird watchers for its many species and great locations. A Birding Trail spans across the entire area that starts at lake Mývatn, although one can of course, join the trail anywhere along the route. The entire trail takes between three to seven days to cover, depending on the level of interest and time frame of the traveler. The best time for bird watching is from mid May to mid June. Most of the breeding birds can be found in the area in July, although many are more secretive by then.

Following is a summary of some locations around Húsavík.

To increase the likeliness of spotting rare species take an experienced guide with you or book a scheduled tour.

Observation hut at Kaldsbakstjörn © Húsavíkurstofa

By the Lakes
The lakes of Botnsvatn and Kaldbakstjarnir are serene places to take a picnic or a short walk and enjoy the midday sun. Typical birds at the lakes include Great Northern Divers, Horned Grebes, Mergansers, Whooper Swans and Tufted Ducks. At Kaldbakstjarnir an observation hut provides shelter.
View sightings at Lake Kaldbakstjarnir
View sightings at Lake Botnsvatn

Above the Cliffs at GeoSea
Great for clearing the cobwebs, head north and take a brisk walk across the cliff tops towards the lighthouse.  Typical coastal birds here are Fulmars, Kittiwake, Great-Black-Backed Gulls, Golden Plovers and Arctic Tern.
View coastal sightings

Shaky Bay
Out at sea, if you visit Lundey Island with one of the town’s popular boat trips, you can see our local Puffin colony. On whale watching trips, you are likely to see plenty of Fulmars and a variety of Guillemots. If you are lucky, Skuas or Gannets may also fly close.
View Shaky Bay sightings

By the Harbour
Húsavík´s cosy harbour area in front of the old pub, is a pleasant place to watch birds whilst you´re having a drink. Dotted amongst the vintage wooden schooners you can see Long Tailed Ducks, Mergansers, and Eider.
View harbour sightings

Húsavík Beach
Feeding in a frenzy on the offal from the factories, you can find the lumpy-beaked Fulmar, the angelic Kittiwake and the impressive Great-Black-Backed Gull. Wading on the shores themselves are Redshanks, Turnstones, and Ring-Necked Plovers.

Húsavík Park
In the park you might be lucky enough to see a Harlequin Duck battling the current upstream, or the odd Wigeon hiding amongst the Mallards. Redwings and Redpoll are usually abundant and rare vagrants such as Waxwings can be seen at certain times of year.
View Húsavík Park sightings

Húsavík Countryside
The countryside to the east is a good place to see Ptarmigan, with Meadow Pipits and Wrens in the shrubs.  As you walk across the heath, the weird sound of the Snipe drumming its tail feathers is unmistakable. Keep your eyes peeled for the graceful Bar-Tailed Godwit.

Lake Mývatn
Further afield, Lake Mývatn is the sole breeding area in Europe for the Barrow’s Goldeneye.  The variety of duck species here is well-renowned and there is a Bird Museum to make the most of it, offering telescopes and hides to get a closer look.
View Lake Mývatn sightings

Useful Links

Birding Trail of Northeast Iceland

Birding Iceland – with rare bird news, tips on finding birds and more!
Birding Iceland Facebook page
Icelandic Identification Site
eBird data listings for Iceland
eBird’s Hotspot Explorer