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Vegahandbókin á að baki 40 ára feril í bílum landsmanna. Bókin hefur verið í stöðugri uppfærslu og endur nýjun frá fyrstu útgáfu. Í máli, myndum og með kortum er ferðalangnum vísað til vegar og hann fræddur á ferð sinni um landið.

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Birds, like plants, are an important part of Icelandic nature. Most birds are of European origin but three of them came here from North America. These three species are the great northern diver, the harlequin duck and barrow's goldeneye. Over 70 different species of bird nest in Iceland each year and almost 400 have been seen in the country at least once. Most of these are in fact strays that are only seen occasionally but a few are annual guests coming to Iceland in the winter or stopping off on their migratory trip farther north in the spring. Puffins are probably the most common Icelandic nesting birds and the Westman Islands can boast of the biggest and most dense puffin colonies in the country.

The composition of species among Icelandic nesting birds is different from that in other northern European countries. The great majority of birds are sea and marsh birds while the number of passarines is very small. In addition, Iceland has the unique position of having exceptionally dense nesting sites. The clearest examples of this are at the Mývatn region and at several sea bird colonies elsewhere.

The ocean and the vast, diverse shores provide food for a myriad of birds all year round. The shores are especially important in the spring and autumn. In addition to domestic migratory birds, thousands of other birds dwell on Icelandic shores during the migration period on their way to and from nesting sites north of the Arctic Circle and winter sites to the south of the globe.

Birds
Fig.: Red-necked Phalarope
(Phalaropus lobatus)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Birds
Fig.: Goldcrest
(Regulus regulus)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Red-necked phalaropes are common in moorlands throughout the country and nest by ponds and in wet bogs. These birds behave uniquely when gathering food. They swim in narrow circles, whirling up the food supply in the ponds which they pluck from the surface as it comes up. It is believed that Icelandic red-necked phalaropes dwell out on the open sea in the south Atlantic in winter. Goldcrests are the smallest passerines in Europe. As conifer forests have grown and spread in Iceland, these small birds seem to be settling here and some belive that they have already become permanent, joining the Icelandic group of nesting birds.
Birds
Fig.: Ringed Plover
(Charadrius hiaticula)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Birds
Fig.: Arctic Skua
(Stercorarius parasiticus)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
The ringed plover is mainly a shore bird. It nests exclusively in sand and gravel, usually near the seaside, but sometimes also inland where conditions are favourable. It arrives in Iceland in the latter part of April and has left the country by late October. The arctic skua is common all around the country and nests on flatland, in mires and in sands. Arctic skuas are open sea birds in winter, arriving at their nesting sites around the middle of May and leaving the countryside in early autumn.
Birds
Fig.: Wren
(Troglodytes troglodytes)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Birds
Fig.: Redshank
(Tringa totanus)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Wrens are resident birds and their habitats are birch woods and thickets. In winter they dwell mostly near empty streams and on shores. Icelandic wrens are a special subspecies and are larger and darker than wrens in nearby countries. The Redshank is very common in lowlands. It nests mainly in hayfields and heath lands but seems to avoid thickets and wet bogs. Not all redshanks are migratory birds. Several hundred of them are known to dwell on beaches on the south coast in the winter.
Birds
Fig.: Ptarmigan
(Numenius phaeopus)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Birds
Fig.: Common Snipe
(Gallinago gallinago)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Whimbrels dwell in Africa in winter, arriving in Iceland in May and going directly to their nesting sites. Their habitas are heaths and lowlands. They leave the country early and have all gone in September. The common snipe is easily found throughout the country, with the exception of the highlands. Its habitats are mires and heaths, with the addition of thickets and birch woods. Most common snipes are resident birds, dwelling on the south shores in winter.
Birds
Fig.: Whimbrel
(Numenius phaeopus)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Birds
Fig.: Slavonian Grebe
(Podiceps auritus)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Whimbrels dwell in Africa in winter, arriving in Iceland in May and going directly to their nesting sites. Their habitas are heaths and lowlands. They leave the country early and have all gone in September. The Slavonian grebe is the only member of the grebe family that nests in Iceland. It nests close to life-enriched lakes and ponds where it builds floating nests, the only Icelandic species that does so. Slavonian grebes cannot be considered common anywhere in Iceland, except perhaps at Mývatn.
Birds
Fig.: Puffin
(Fratercula arctica)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Birds
Fig.: Arctic Tern
(Sterna paradisaea)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Puffins are by far the most common auks in Iceland and there are millions of them along the coast. They nest in holes that they dig in the grass on top of islands and small peninsulas or in hollows and cracks in sea cliffs and rocks. By about the middle of September, puffins have usually disappeared out to sea. The Arctic tern dwells in the winter in the southern hemisphere and arrives in Iceland in the beginning of May. Arctic terns nest throughout the country, but the largest nesting sites are by the seaside. The number of nests at a given site can reach thousands. At the end of August, they embark on their long journey over the Atlantic Ocean to their winter dwelling site. The total distance that these birds travel is approximately 40 thousand km each year, making them the record-holders among migratory birds.
Birds
Fig.: Little Auk
(Podiceps auritus)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Birds
Fig.: Leach's Petrel
(Oceanodroma leucorrhoa)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
It is likely that little Auks do not nest any longer in Iceland because it is at the southern limit of their distribution. The last nesting sites for little auks in Iceland were in Grímsey off the north coast. These birds are among the most common nesting birds in the Polar Sea and are often seen off the Icelandic coast in winter when they are blown here with northern storms. Iceland is the northernmost nesting site for the Leach's petrel. They nest almost exclusively in the Westman Islands. It is not easy to find them because they nest in the outer islands of the archipelago that are not among the regular route of most people. Furthermore, the birds are usually active at twilight, not in daytime.
Birds
Fig.: Gannet
(Sterna paradisaea)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Birds
Fig.: Kittiwake
(Rissa tridactyla)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Gannets nest at several sites along the coast of Iceland. The largest nesting site is on Eldey off the coast of the Reykjanes peninsula with approximately 32 thousand birds. There are also many gannets in the Westman Islands. Gannets can be seen close to the shore in the summertime but in winter they dwell out on the open sea. Kittiwakes are common all around the country. They differ from ordinary gulls because they nest either on sheer-sided rocks or low cliffs, usually in the vicinity of auks and fulmars. Kittiwakes fly around the North Atlantic in winter and all the way south to Africa.
Birds
Fig.: Eider
(Somateria mollissima)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Birds
Fig.: Great Skua
(Stercorarius skua)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Eider is the only duck species that dwells almost exclusively by the seaside and is very seldom seen inland. It nests all around the country, often in very dense nesting sites. The number of nests in one site may reach thousands. The eider seems to thrive best close to humans, in a typical relationship both people and the eider profit. The bird is protected and cared for by people who gather the very valuable eider down from the nests and sell it. The great skua is most common on the sands south of Vatnajökull glacier. One of the largest great skua colonies in the world is at Breiðamerkursandur. Great skuas gather food both from the sea and land. They often steal food from other birds and even kill other birds for food. They are also known for protecting their eggs and chicks quite aggressively. They dwell out on the open sea in winter but come up on shore in early spring.
Birds
Fig.: Snow Bunting
(Plectrophenax nivalis)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Birds
Fig.: Gyrfalcon
(Falco rusticolus)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Snow buntings are among the most characteristic birds of the highlands, although they often nest elsewhere, in lava fields and on barren land. They are mostly resident birds but migrate sometimes to other countries. The gyrfalcon nests mainly in the northern part of Iceland and is a resident bird. It is a majestic bird and a favourite of bird-watchers. In earlier times, it was considered a royal treasure and was exported and used in hunting. Falcons from Greenland, often called white falcons, also fly to the country every now and then. They are smaller and almost completely white.
Birds
Fig.: White-tailed Eagle
(Haliaetus albicilla)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Birds
Fig.: Great Northern Diver
(Gavia immer)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
The sea eagle is the only eagle species in Iceland. In earlier times, these birds were found throughout the country but almost became extinct as a result of hunting. Although they were protected at the beginning of the twentieth century, the eagle population is now much smaller than it was in earlier times. During nesting periods, the sea eagle is extremely irritable and does not tolerate being disturbed. It is therefore prohibited to go near an eagle's nest during the nesting period. Their habitat is mainly at Breiðafjörður, Mýrar and the Western Fiords but they fly widely around the country in the autumn and winter. These birds nest on trout riverbanks where food is plentiful. They are not very common but are conspicuous, particularly in mid-Iceland.
Birds
Fig.: Whooper Swan
(Cygnus cygnus)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Birds
Fig.: Pink-footed Goose
(Anser brachyrhynchus)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Whooper swans nest all around the country and are very conspicuous in the summertime. Infertile birds gather in late summer, forming large groups, and lose their remiges. Examples of wellknown locations for this purpose are Álftafjörður on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, Eastern Álftafjörður and Neslandavík at Mývatn. Most whooper swans are migratory birds. Pink-footed geese nest mostly above the 400 m altitude line, usually in rather large flocks. A large majority of the species nests in Iceland and the nesting site at Þjórsárver is the largest in the world. These geese are migratory birds and have left Iceland by the end of October.
Birds
Fig.: Harlequin Duck
(Histrionicus histrionicus)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Birds
Fig.: Barrow's Goldeneye
(Buchephala islandica)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
The harlequin duck came to Iceland from North America. Iceland is the only place in Europe where it nests. It stays in the vicinity of rivers with strong currents during the nesting season and on into the summer. The drakes go out to sea at the end of June and in the beginning of September most harlequin ducks have left for the sea where they dwell during the winter. They ordinarily stay close to the coast where the surf is strong, such as at the Reykjanes and Snæfellsnes peninsulas. This is originally an American species and Iceland is the only European territory where it nests. These ducks nest almost exclusively in the Mývatn and Laxá area but in winter they can be seen widely throughout the Northeast and South of Iceland near creeks.
Birds
Fig.: Black-headed Gull
(Larus ridibundus)

Source: Iceland Road Atlas (2007)
Black-headed gulls began nesting in Iceland early in the twentieth century and are now common nesting birds in lowlands throughout the country. They nest in dense nesting colonies in the vicinity of other birds, in particular the arctic tern. Black-headed gulls are migratory birds for the most part, although some do not leave for the winter.
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