May 26 to June 5, 2013
Maximum 6 participants.
Sold out – please contact me if you would like to be on a waiting list or get notifications about future workshops.
Iceland is a very exciting place for bird photography. It only has 78 regular breeding species but many of those breed in large numbers. The Icelandic avifaune is quite special as it’s a mixture of American and European birds as well as circumpolar Arctic species that can in few places be approached as easily as in Iceland. The focus of this workshop will be waterfowl and waders (shorebirds) in the Lake Mývatn region as well as seabirds at the Látrabjarg bird cliff and Flatey island. At this time of year there are about 22 hours of light, which should provide long and productive days.
Barrow’s Goldeneye at Lake Mývatn. © Daníel Bergmann
I have been photographing birds in Iceland for about 15 years and have intimate knowledge of where to find our local birds and how to approach them. I also work in bird conservation as a board member of BirdLife Iceland and I’m the editor of Iceland’s main bird magazine. My bird photography has been published widely and I photographed Gyrfalcons for the Wild Wonders of Europe project. My work on Gyrfalcons has continued and will be published as a book in November 2012.
We’ll start from Reykjavik city on the morning of May 26th and drive to Lake Mývatn, where we’ll spend the next 5 days. The lake arguably holds the largest concentration of waterfowl in the world with 14 species of ducks breeding there. Close to our hotel there is a pond where we’ll put up 3 hides (blinds) to photograph from. The hides will have to be early morning before 4 a.m. and you’ll stay in them until 9 a.m. Three of the participants can work from the hides each morning and while the rest of us will explore other locations. Each participant will get two morning sessions in the hides.
After our morning session we will rest for a few hours, while the sun is high in the sky, before heading out again for our afternoon and evening photography. We’ll photograph Harlequin Ducks by the River Laxá, which runs out of Lake Mývatn, and we’ll also travel to Húsavík on the coast and east to the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park. The landscape around Mývatn is also very exciting with lots of geothermal activity.
Species photographed at Mývatn:
Great Northern Diver (Common Loon), Red-throated Diver (Red-throated Loon), Horned Grebe, Whooper Swan, Red-necked Phalarope, Harlequin Duck, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Long-tailed Duck, Scaup, Tufted Duck, Common Scoter, Eurasian Widgeon, Golden Plover, Whimbrel and many more. There is a high possibility of sighting Gyrfalcon, although they can’t be photographed during nesting without a special permit.
Great Northern Diver in Iceland. © Daníel Bergmann
After our stay by Mývatn we’ll travel west and after about a half day’s journey reach our destination of Breidavík in the Westfjords. That will be our base for the next three nights and from Breidavík we’ll drive out to Látrabjarg bird cliff, one of Iceland’s most impressive seabird colony. Nowhere else in Iceland, and probably in the world, are Puffins as tame and it’s a great joy to photograph them in a variety of ways, even with wide angle lenses, while they go about their business at the edge of the cliff. Other seabirds at Látrabjarg are Razorbill, Common Guillemot (Murre), Brunnich’s Guillemot (Thick-billed Murre), Northern Fulmar and Kittiwake.
Atlantic Puffin at the edge of Látrabjarg. © Daníel Bergmann
The Puffins are most active in the evening and early morning. We have three evenings of opportunities out at Látrabjarg. Although this impressive bird cliff is 14 km long, the Puffins and other cliff dwellers are best photographed close to the car park, or just a couple of hundred meters along the cliff’s edge. We’ll be stain gat the Breidavík guesthouse, which has many common birds breeding in its vicinity, including Arctic Terns, Ringed Plovers, Redshanks, Eider Ducks and more.
Atlantic Puffin at Látrabjarg. © Daníel Bergmann
As our stay in the Westfjords comes to an end we take the ferry across the bay of Breidafjordur and get off at Flatey island, about half way over the fjord. This wonderful little island has a comfortable hotel where we’ll spend a night so that we can photograph the island’s birdlife in the evening and following morning. There are a number of Black Guillemot breeding there, as well as most of the common birds such as Snow Bunting, Snipe, Red-necked Phalarope, White Wagtail and more. After our one day stay at Flatey we continue with the ferry to the town of Stykkisholmur and will spend our last night on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. The workshop will end early afternoon at the Keflavik airport on June 5th.
Black Guillemot at Flatey island. © Daníel Bergmann
This is a unique opportunity to travel in a small group of dedicated wildlife photographers with one of Iceland’s most experienced nature photographer. Although I expect participants to have basic knowledge of bird photography I am always on hand for personal tuition and discussion of technique and approach. I’ll also review your day’s work, if you care for it, and offer advise of how to improve your photography, if there is room for improvement.
The cost for this 11 day workshop is $5500 US. It includes transportation, accommodation (in single rooms), food and drinks (excluding alcoholic beverages), use of hides and tuition. It does not include your flight to Iceland and hotel in Reykjavik the night before the workshop begins.
If you would like to participate in this rare workshop, which I only offer every other year, then please contact me for registration or further information.