Birdlife

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Lake Mývatn is a paradise for birdwatchers. Everywhere you stop there are birds around you, particularly on the lake itself. When at lake Mývatn, always be on the lookout for Gyr Falcons as they are often found hunting near the lake. There are five great spots around the lake we recommend for birdwatching. Drive anti-clockwise around the lake until you reach superbly rich area at the bay of Neslandavík (1). There are often large flocks of Tufted Duck and Wigeon in the bay. This area is also particularly good for seeing a Gadwall, Scaup, Red-throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Pintail and Red-breasted Merganser. Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum is located at the farm Ytri Neslönd by the bay. The museum is conveniently located in one of the best birdwatching locations by the lake. 

Continuing south from Neslandavík past the farm Vindbelgur you will reach another bay with a parking lot called Álar, nearly as rich in birds as Neslandavík, though the birds are sometimes quite far from land (2). Again, a thorough scan of flocks of the common ducks of the area is likely to reveal scarcer species like the Barrow’s Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck and the Great Northern Diver. The Common Scoter is very visible on the west side of Mývatn. Just (50 m) before you reach the bridge over the river Laxá (3), take a left turn to a small parking lot by the river and walk towards the river banks. It won’t take you long to find the Harlequin Duck, a species which is often quite confiding. Occasionally you can see the Goosander. This uppermost part of Laxá is the prime habitat for Harlequin and Barrow’s Goldeneye in Iceland. 

 Cross the bridge and drive eastward on road 848 to reach the lake again at the bay of Skútustaðir and Stakhólstjörn (4). This is yet another perfect place to search the flocks of ducks for scarcer visitors, like the Long-tailed duck. Park by Skútustaðagígar and follow the hiking route around Stakhólstjörn. Another nice viewing area is from the parking area by road nr. 1 just north of the road to the farm Kálfaströnd. This site always holds some Barrow’s Goldeneye and the scenery is very picturesque.

A stop at the woodland park at Höfði (5) will provide an opportunity for a walk through beautiful woodland, with views towards some unusual lava formations in the lake. Birding in the park is interesting as there are plenty of Common Redpoll, Redwing and Winter wren nesting in the park and ducks on the lake. Quite often, vagrant passerines are found in the park.

The Mývatn area is very ridge of birdlife. Other than ducks, these are also common birds to see around the lake: The Greylag Goose, Pink Footed Goose, Raven, Short-eared Owl, Ptarmigan, Parasitic jaeger and the Merlin, not to mention the Meadow pipit, Wagtail, Wheatear, Arctic tern, Black-headed gull, Great black-backed gull, Lesser black-backed gull, Golden plower, Whimbrel, Common redshank, Black-tailed godwit, Common ringed plover, Purple sandpiper, Red-necked phalarope and the Common snipe. It is very rare to see the Eurasian oystercatcher, Northern shoveler, Great skua and the Snowy owl in this area.