Hafnarhólmi to Begin Charging for Access Next Summer

Puffin Iceland

The municipal government of Borgarfjörður eystri, East Iceland, has stated its intention to make the entrance fee to Hafnarhólmi mandatory.

Hafnarhólmi is an islet and home to a puffin colony. The islet is popular and accessible for bird-watchers who want to see the iconic animal up close. Currently, the entrance fee is voluntary. Austurfrétt reports.

Could generate millions of ISK

The fee is expected to generate significant income for the municipality, as Hafnarhólmi is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Borgarfjörður eystri, and indeed all of East Iceland. The area is estimated to receive around 50,000 visitors annually.

Revenue is expected to be in the tens of millions of ISK, and a majority of the fee would be put towards conserving the popular area and enhancing the visitor experience with improved facilities.

The fee was originally introduced in 2023 with the condition that it would be optional for visitors.

Still optional this summer

Eyþór Stefánsson, chairperson of the local council, stated that although the current arrangement has brought in some revenue, a mandatory fee would be much more beneficial to the area.

Based on last year’s total of 50,000 visitors and a fee of 500 ISK [$3.62; €3.33], he estimates that some 25 million ISK [$180,000; €167,000] in additional revenue could be generated. This would represent a significant increase over the revenue generated by the current optional model.

“In my opinion, this is a better approach than the current arrangement,” Eyþór stated to Austurfrétt. “It will still be optional for visitors to pay this summer, but we believe it is reasonable that from the summer of 2025 onwards, there will be a mandatory fee for each visitor. The matter has not yet reached the stage of planning how this would be implemented, but I would be excited to have it similar to the system in Danish trains where there isn’t a direct ticket sale or attendant, but rather an unannounced check among guests.”

 

 

When do puffins arrive in Iceland?

Puffin Iceland

The Atlantic puffin (in Icelandic, lundi), is something of a national symbol, with many tourists and Icelanders alike flocking to bird cliffs to catch a glimpse of these brightly-coloured seabirds.

Of course, if you’re planning your trip to Iceland around seeing these birds, then it helps to know when, exactly, they’re here!

When does the puffin arrive in Iceland?

Puffins spend much of their life at sea and are actually only in Iceland for a relatively short time to breed and nest. They tend to arrive in Iceland beginning in April (usually later in the month, just before May) and generally begin to leave in August. The puffins are usually gone by September. The height of breeding- and nesting-season is from June through August.

In 2024, some of the first puffins of the year were recorded on April 11, when small groups of the black and white seabird arrived on the island of Grímsey and in Borgarfjörður eystri, in East Iceland.

Although the puffin typically begins arriving in April, most puffin tours only begin in May, to guarantee better conditions for sighting the seabird.

More about the Atlantic puffin

Unlike many other cliff-dwelling seabirds, Atlantic puffins will actually dig little holes to build their nests in. Puffins monogamously mate for life, and generally just produce one egg each breeding season. Male puffins tend to spend more time at home with the chick and organising the nest, while female puffins tend to be more involved with feeding the young. Raising their young takes around 40 days.

Until recently, it was actually unknown where, exactly, Atlantic puffins spent the rest of the year. But with modern tracking technologies, these little birds have been found to range as far south as the Mediterranean during the winter season. When puffins leave the nest, they will head off on their own without their parents, finding their own feeding and winter grounds. Over their lives, they will remember and repeat their lonely journey. They don’t always head to warmer climates in the winter, however. Icelandic puffins have been found to winter in Newfoundland and in the open sea south of Greenland.

Puffins are relatively small seabirds, averaging about 47 to 63cm [18 to 25in] in wingspan and weighing generally between 300 and 500g [10 to 17oz].

There are an estimated 8 million adult Atlantic puffins, with a majority of the world’s puffing population, around 60%, nesting in Iceland. Besides Iceland, puffins can also be found nesting in Ireland, the UK, Norway, Russia, the Faroe islands, and Greenland.

The Westman islands, an archipelago off the South Coast of Iceland, has by far the largest puffin colony in Iceland, with around 800,000 breeding pairs. Second place goes to Breiðafjörður, with around 400,000 breeding pairs. A less populated, but stunningly beautiful, bird cliff is Látrabjarg, the western-most point of Iceland.

Read more about bird watching in Iceland.

Deep North Episode 63: In Pursuit of Ptarmigan

ptarmigan hunting iceland

It’s 6:00 AM and the obsidian darkness lingers outside my windshield. I arrive in the Kársnes neighbourhood of Kópavogur, park my car, and hop into Kristján Andri Einarsson’s black Jimny. The hunter greets me with a boyish smirk, ready for today’s adventure. He is wearing a camouflage cap on his greying auburn hair. Until this day, I have never gone hunting, nor seen a real gun in my life. All that is about to change.

Read the full story here.

In Pursuit of Ptarmigan

ptarmigan hunt iceland

It’s 6:00 AM and the obsidian darkness lingers outside my windshield. I arrive in the Kársnes neighbourhood of Kópavogur, park my car, and hop into Kristján Andri Einarsson’s black Jimny. The hunter greets me with a boyish smirk, ready for today’s adventure. He is wearing a camouflage cap on his greying auburn hair. Until this […]

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Continue reading

Deep North Episode 43: To Catch an Oystercatcher

waders iceland oystercatcher

Under the regular ascent and descent of Keflavík jet traffic, out past the old American radar stations, at the northwestern tip of the Reykjanes peninsula, sits the Suðurnes Science and Learning Centre. Much like the airport terminal a few kilometres from here, this spit of low-flung land is a place where many visitors to this island come and go. Along with an international team of ecologists, Sölvi Rúnar Vignisson has been working here for the past 10 years studying the oystercatcher (in Icelandic, tjaldur), a distinctive shorebird whose migratory patterns may serve as a good indicator of climate change.

Read the story here.

To Catch an Oystercatcher

oystercatcher reykjanes

Under the regular ascent and descent of Keflavík jet traffic, out past the old American radar stations, at the northwestern tip of the Reykjanes peninsula, sits the Suðurnes Science and Learning Centre. Much like the airport terminal a few kilometres from here, this spit of low-flung land is a place where many visitors to this […]

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Continue reading

Proposal to Ban Sale of Greylag Geese

greylag goose iceland

The Ministry for the Environment, Energy, and Climate has published a draft amendment regarding bird hunting and the utilization of products from wild birds. It is available for comment on the government portal.

The proposed amendment aims to prohibit the unauthorized selling of grey geese and their products. It will also be prohibited to export them. However, the domestic sale of prepared geese will still be allowed.

In recent years, the population of grey geese has been declining, and the ministry’s proposal for a sales ban is intended to aid the recovery of the Icelandic population.

According to the draft amendment, the situation will be reassessed after a year, and if the decline in the population continues during that time, the duration of the hunting season for grey geese will be reconsidered. If there is an increase in the population, the need for an ongoing sales ban will be evaluated.

The Ministry for the Environment, Energy, and Climate emphasizes that violations of the regulation may result in fines or imprisonment of up to 2 years, as well as the revocation of hunting and firearms licenses.

The deadline for submitting comments is August 8th.

Reykjavík City Pond to Get Four More Islands

Tjörnin Reykjavík Pond

The Reykjavik City Planning and Environmental Council introduced proposed changes to the Reykjavík City Pond (Tjörnin) yesterday, June 22, which include the construction of four new islands.

Proposals for renovating the existing islands and constructing new islands in Tjörnin were presented at the Reykjavik City Planning and Environmental Council this week. It is currently planned to build four new islands in the pond. Currently, Tjörnin has two islets. The larger, northern islet is more visible from downtown. It is around the smaller, southern islet that the proposed new islands will be clustered.

The larger island will also be enlarged and renovated with new gravel, as it has shrunk due to erosion. The changes are intended to benefit bird life in the pond.

Tjörnin is a part of a larger wetland area, consisting of the pools and ponds stemming from the Vatnsmýri marshlands. A stream initially connected Tjörnin to the sea, and this was mostly left untouched as Reykjavík grew in the later part of the 18th century and into the 19th century. In 1911, the city was built over the stream, using it instead as a sewer system.

The latest planned additions to the city pond will not be the only modifications made to it. Over the years, city planners took steps to turn the pond into the modern Tjörnin. In 1913, locks were installed in the pond’s outlet to prevent seawater from surging into the pond. A pedestrian bridge was erected in 1920, cutting the pond in two. The bridge was widened and reinforced to support vehicles during the Second World War.

The project is still in its planning stage. More information can be found at the Reykjavík City website.

First Puffins of the Year Sighted in Grímsey

puffins iceland

The first puffins of the year were sighted over Easter, on April 9, on Grímsey.

Grímsey, an island off the north coast of Iceland, is surrounded on most sides by steep sea cliffs which make for good nesting grounds for many sea birds.

Halla Ingólfsdóttir, director of Arctic Trip, a travel company that specialises in bird-watching tours on Grímsey, stated to RÚV: “They are starting to settle down and set up their nests. We were sure they would arrive on April 10. We even had a countdown on our website, so I was very happy that they came a day ahead of schedule.”

Ask Iceland Review: When do Puffins Arrive in Iceland?

Halla continued: “I went both south to the lighthouse and then to the shore and sure enough, both locations had puffins. But it’s been very windy, so you often see them taking off and quickly landing again.”

The puffin, alongside the plover, is traditionally considered a herald of spring. More are expected in the coming weeks, but the larger colonies generally arrive in Iceland later in the year, from the end of April to the beginning of May.

Read more: Golden Plover Arrives in Iceland

 

Golden Plover, Symbol of Springtime, Arrives in Iceland

golden plover iceland

The Golden Plover, a traditional symbol of springtime, has arrived in Iceland.

In a statement to Morgunblaðið, ornitholgist Jó­hann Óli Hilm­ars­son confirmed their arrival, with three having been sighted in Eyrarbakki, a town in South Iceland, and one in Sandgerði, a community on the western tip of the Reykjanes peninsula.

“They’ve arrived at the expected time from recent years,” Jóhann said. “You can always expect them in the last week of March.”

“Migratory birds have been showing up the last few days, despite the northerly winds. But the wind is letting up and the birds are flocking to the country, and we can definitely expect more this week,” he continued.

The Golden Plover (Icelandic: Lóa) generally arrives, as stated, in the last week of March. The average date of its arrival is March 25, calculated from its arrivals since 1998.

While the first Golden Plovers arrive in late March, it is not until the first half of April that the majority of these migratory birds arrive.

Golden Plover spend the summer in Iceland, where they nest and have their breeding grounds. They range as far east as central Siberia and can be found wintering throughout Europe and Northern Africa.

A popular poem by Páll Ólafsson (1827-1905) can be found below.

The golden plover has arrived to banish the snow,

to banish the boredom, that it can do.

It has told me the whimbrel will arrive soon,

sunshine in the valley and blooms in the meadow.

It has told me of my sins,

I sleep too much and don’t do any work.

It has told me to wake up and work

and full of hope, welcome the summer.