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Take the opportunity to see Atlantic puffin before it's too late
In Iceland, there are 13 large colonies of Atlantic puffin and puffin are one of the main attractions of the islands of Iceland, but with each new year the number of chicks is reduced
The Atlantic Puffin has become a symbol of Iceland, and many tourists want to look at this cute black and white bird with a bright orange beak and webbed feet. Fortunately, Iceland is one of the best places to watch the Atlantic Pullout, since here is the largest colony of these birds in the world. More than half of the world's population of the Atlantic Puffin nests annually in Iceland.
In recent years, the number of birds, unfortunately, is decreasing, however, in the spring and summer months in Iceland, it is estimated that more than 5 million Atlantic puffins nest. Nevertheless, despite the fact that there are millions of these little birds in the country, they are not always easy to find. Usually puffins arrive in Iceland in April and fly away in September. Thus, the best time to observe puffins is from May to August. Most puffins fly away in mid and late August. The most suitable period for observing puffins is late spring and summer, from May to August. Exact dates vary annually depending on the weather. Tourists better come from mid-May to early August, when the chances of seeing these birds are highest.
The best time to watch the puffins in Iceland is morning (from sunrise until 11 o'clock in the afternoon) and evening (from 6 in the evening to sunset), especially if you plan to do this by land. In the afternoon, puffins often fish in the sea, and in the evening they return to their holes. puffins nest on the islands and along the coast of Iceland. The colonies of these birds can be found in the north, east, west and south of the country. No matter which part of Iceland the tourist is going to visit, most likely you will find a region where you can watch the puffins or book the corresponding tour.
In Iceland, popular are tours for watching puffins. Regardless of whether the tourist is looking for a day trip or an organized multi-day tour, in spring and summer you will have several options. Some tours take place on land, others include boat cruises. Please note that puffins are wild animals, so there is no guarantee that you will be able to see them during the tour.
Atlantic Puffins are birds in the auk family
The body of the puffins is covered in black and white plumage, which makes them somewhat similar to penguins. During the nesting period, the beaks and webbed feet of birds acquire a characteristic bright orange color. However, in winter, the color of the beak changes to gray. On the ground, puffins look a little awkward. However, puffins are good flyers. They fly much faster than one would expect. In addition, puffins swim well and can dive deep enough in search of food.
Atlantic puffin build their nests in holes dug in the ground in coastal areas, usually along cliffs. Birds dig them up by themselves or use old pits and rabbit holes. Females lay eggs in spring, chicks appear at the beginning of summer. Down in the chicks gray. Parents get fish for them, which they bring to their nests.
The reasons for the decline in puffins began in 2005, when the gerbil began to disappear - the main production of puffins. In addition, the increase in water temperature began to affect the timing of the reproduction of the main source of food - phytoplankton and zooplankton, which disrupted synchronization with the bird nesting season. Mackerel also began to migrate to the nesting places of puffins due to the increase in water temperature, as a result of which the favorite delicacy of puffins, the gerbil fish, almost completely disappears. Puffins simply have nothing to feed their chicks, and they, knowing this very well, stop hatching eggs.
In Iceland, the locals eat puffins. For many centuries, puffins have been a traditional source of meat, and they are still eaten, although this is now less common, especially among the younger generation, who are concerned about the conservation of seabirds. Meat of puffins is especially popular in small coastal and island settlements where birds are still hunted. Hunting puffins and collecting their eggs in Iceland is legal, but is regulated by law.
When the Vikings settled in Iceland, volcanoes and hot springs were new to them - they saw nothing of the kind either in their homeland in Scandinavia or in England; but everything else was familiar to them and allowed them to feel at home. Almost all plants and animals belonged to familiar European species. The lowlands, mostly covered with low birch and willow twigs, were easily cleared for pasture. In these areas, as well as in treeless marshes and alpine meadows located above the forest zone, the first settlers found lush vegetation - grasses, cereals and moss - ideal for grazing. The soil was fertile (in some places, the thickness of the fertile layer was one and a half meters). Despite the glaciers covering the plateau and the location near the Arctic Circle, the climate of Iceland is quite mild due to the warm Gulf Stream, so that barley could be grown in the southern part of the island. Lakes, rivers and the sea were teeming with fish and never before seen sea birds and ducks; frightened walruses and seals lived on the coast.
But Iceland's outward resemblance to Southwest Norway and the British Isles was misleading in three respects. Firstly, the high-latitude position of Iceland (the island lies several hundred miles north of the main Norwegian agricultural land in the south-west of this country) led to a colder climate and a shorter growing season and, therefore, more risky farming. With the onset of global cooling at the end of the Middle Ages, Icelanders were forced to abandon the cultivation of grain and completely switch to cattle breeding. Secondly, volcanic ash scattered during eruptions spoiled pastures. Repeatedly throughout the history of Iceland, such eruptions have caused hunger; The most severe consequences were caused by the eruption of Laki volcano in 1783, after which more than a fifth of the population of Iceland died of starvation.
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