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The Breidafjordur is a vast shallow bay on the west coast of Iceland between the wilderness of the North-West Peninsula to the north and the Snaefellsnes to the south.
The bay has numerous islands with grassland and marshes and extensive intertidal areas along its deeply indented coastline. Snaefellsnes is a long and narrow peninsula dominated by the Snaefellsjokull volcano. The sandstone cliffs of the peninsula host important seabird colonies.
The Breidafjordur is famous as the last resort of most of Iceland's remaining White-tailed Eagle and the islands of the bay support a few pairs of Grey Phalarope, a very rare breeding bird in the Western Palearctic. Harlequin Duck, an Icelandic speciality, can be seen both within the bay and on the southern side of the Snaefellsnes.
Gyr Falcon breeds on the peninsula and the seabird colonies include Shag and Great Cormorant, Black Guillemot, Common Guillemot and Brunnich's Guillemot, Razorbill and Atlantic Puffin, Glaucous Gull and Northern Fulmar. Divers, Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Greater Scaup, Long-tailed Duck and Common Eider also breed as well as Arctic Skua and Arctic Tern, Rock Ptarmigan and Snow Bunting. Red-necked Phalarope, Purple Sandpiper, Whimbrel and Golden Plover are among the waders present in summer.
Pale-bellied Brent Goose occurs on passage and huge numbers of Red Knot and other waders visit the intertidal areas on migration. Iceland Gull is present in winter.
Birds you can see here include:
Red-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Northern Fulmar, Great Cormorant, European Shag, Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Pale-bellied Brent Goose, Greater Scaup, Common Eider, Harlequin Duck, Long-tailed Duck, White-tailed Eagle, Merlin, Gyr Falcon, Rock Ptarmigan, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Red Knot, Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Dunlin, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Grey Phalarope, Red-necked Phalarope, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Iceland Gull, Glaucous Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Arctic Tern, Common Guillemot, Brunnich's Guillemot, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Atlantic Puffin, Meadow Pipit, Common Starling, Snow Bunting
Common Seal and Grey Seal are commonly seen and in recent years the area has become an important base for whale-watching trips. These can be arranged at either Stykkisholmur or Olafsvik on the northern coast of the peninsula and cetaceans to be seen include White-beaked Dolphinand White-sided Dolphin, Killer Whale and Pilot Whale with the possibility of Sperm Whale and Humpback Whale, Fin Whale, Sei Whale, Minke Whale and even Blue Whale on the longer trips.
History and Use
Areas of Interest
There are regular boats across the bay from Stykkisholmur to Brjanslaekur on the North-West Peninsula which stop at some of the many islands including Flatey which has breeding Grey Phalarope and Black Guillemot.
Access and Facilities
There are roads around the perimeter and across the centre of the peninsula and also along the shore of the Breidafjordur enabling the entire area to be easily explored and there is regular public transport from Reykjavik. Accommodation is available in Stykkisholmur, Borganes and elsewhere and camping is possible at Olafsvik.
Content and images originally posted by Steve
Edward's review The Snaefellsnes peninsula is one of the areas I most highly recommend to birders visiting Iceland. It is only three hours' drive from Reykjavik and the scenery of high mountains, lava fields, a glacier topped volcano and dramatic sea-cliffs will also keep any non-birders in your party thoroughly entertained. In summer it's one of the best locations for Br�nnich's Guillemot and whales can often be seen from land here. Great Northern Divers breed on the larger lakes on the southern side of the peninsula and Red-throated Divers are incredibly common on the numerous lakes in the south-east of the area. A boat trip from Stykkish�lmur is easily the best way to see White-tailed Eagle in Iceland. All in all a great area. Pros
- Stunning scenery
- excellent birds
- Weather can often be poor