A Group Of Puffins From The Atlantic Puffin Colony Of Grímsey Island Set Against The Pink Sky With Icelands Mountains In The Background

Exploring the Unique Icelandic Atlantic Puffin Colony of Grímsey Island

Article written by David Miles illustrated with images contributed by Robin Lowry.

is an iconic destination renowned for its stunning landscapes & unique cultural heritage. From the ice-cold iceberg lagoons in the south to the rolling hills & volcanic valleys in the centre, these magnificent landscapes are rarely rivalled anywhere else in the world. Yet, there is another side of that is far less known & rarely explored; the wildlife. Nestled in the remote islands of the north lies a unique & remarkable Icelandic colony that attracts bird photographers from around the globe.

On the tiny island of Grímsey, located just 70km off the north coast of Iceland, these majestic birds create a remarkable spectacle that has to be seen to be believed; Grímsey Island is one of the best locations to see puffins in Iceland. Just a short flight from mainland Iceland, Grímsey offers much to explore for both experienced bird photographers & novices alike.

A Pair Of Puffins Drifting On The Waters In Front Of The Basalt Cliffs Found All Over Iceland'S Grímsey Island

The island's unique landscape is the perfect habitat for its famous Atlantic Puffin colony & many other birds, such as kittiwakes, razorbills & guillemots. The ever-changing weather also adds to the atmosphere of the island, with strong winds, strong tides & grey clouds looming overhead.

During the summer months, Grímsey is also known to experience the midnight sun, making it the perfect place to witness the beauty of the natural world in its full glory. Join us on a journey to explore this unique Icelandic Colony on Grímsey Island & discover the wonders of this remarkable place! From the incredible sights & sounds of the puffins nesting to the unique inhabitants & their fascinating stories, nothing compares to experiencing the magic of this particular corner of the world.

A Water Drenched Puffin Taking Flight From The Atlantic Puffin Colony Of Grímsey Island

About the Island of Grímsey

Grímsey has been inhabited since the Viking settlement of Iceland. Ancient records indicate that King Olafur offered the island to Icelanders in exchange for his friendship, but the people refused because it was a valuable food source, such as birds, eggs & fish.

A Long Landscape View Of The Orange Lighthouse On The Clifftops Of Grimsey Island

After the introduction of Christianity, Grímsey was owned by monasteries on the mainland & its tenants were obligated to pay the annual rent in dried cod. Today, ownership of the island is divided between the residents, the town of Akureyri, & the Icelandic state.

A Lone Atlantic Puffin Flies Against The Black Basalt Cliffs Of Grímsey Island

The population of Grímsey numbers about 80 residents & the land is a prosperous & fertile community with many children. The island's coastal rocks are particularly interesting due to scurvy grass, a vitamin-rich plant with purported medicinal properties. High cliffs provide homes for hundreds of thousands of Atlantic Puffins & Arctic Terns, the only predators being other birds. Fishing, fish processing, & tourism all form integral roles in life on the island, & the unique vegetation, sculpted by the arctic climate, is a defining feature. Furthermore, due to the island's location near the Arctic Circle, summertime offers an impressive 24-hour day of daylight, allowing for photography & other activities.

A Group Of Puffins On The Waters Off Grímsey Island With Icelands Mountains In The Background

A Mass Of Puffins Taking Flight From The Atlantic Puffin Colony Of Grímsey Island

How Many Species of Puffin are there?

Four Puffins varieties exist, including the Atlantic, Horned, Tufted & Rhinoceros Auklet varieties. The is the smallest of the species & is found exclusively in the North Atlantic Ocean. All other species of Puffins inhabit the Pacific Ocean.

A Group Of Puffins From The Atlantic Puffin Colony Of Grímsey Island Set Against The Pink Sky

These birds live on the open sea & usually return to land only to breed; they have a lifespan of around 20 years or more.

A Lone Puffin From The Atlantic Puffin Colony Of Grímsey Island Soars In The Pink Sky

About the Atlantic Puffin

The Atlantic Puffin is a small bird of the Auk family found in the Northern Hemisphere. Puffins are characterized by their colourful, stocky bodies & bright red, triangular beaks.

A Trio Of Atlantic Puffins On One Of The Headlands Of Grímsey Island

During the breeding season, puffins move to the coastal areas of , Iceland, Greenland & . In winter, they migrate to open seas, as far away as the coasts of .

A Puffin Comes In To Land On One Of The Headlands Of Grímsey Island

A Lone Atlantic Puffin In The Rain On The Cliffs Of Grímsey Island

They are great swimmers, & can dive over 60 feet deep to catch fish like herring, sand eel, & capelin. Atlantic puffins have remarkable courtship behaviour, & spend time together in pairs to form lifelong, solid bonds. They are beautiful & extremely captivating birds, & are sure to bring a smile to your face as you watch them on the coast.

A Mass Of Puffins In Flight Over The Famous Lighthouse Found On Grímsey Island

Grímsey Island's Atlantic Puffin Colonies

Individuals of the Great Skua species also endanger the highly vulnerable newly-fledged puffin chicks. These large birds will steal the fish from adult puffins in mid-flight & can even physically attack the adults when they land.

The Iconic Image Of A Lone Puffin With A Beak Full Of Sandeels On The Atlantic Puffin Colony Of Grímsey Island

On Grímsey, the diet of Atlantic Puffins consists primarily of “Sand Eels”, though they may also feed on shrimp & cod when available. Puffins have adapted to the sea & are proficient swimmers, taking advantage of their semi-extended wings like paddles to “fly” through the water while their webbed feet provide the rudder to keep them on course.

A Puffin Flies Against The Basalt Cliffs Of Grímsey Island

Despite the dangers brought by avian predators, the puffins of Grímsey can thrive due to the lack of terrestrial predators. In an open sky, however, they remain at risk of being attacked by Great Black-backed Gulls or having their food supply stolen by Great Skuas. The Atlantic Puffins must be protected from these aerial threats to maintain a stable population on the island.

The Moody Dark Beaches &Amp; Cliffs Of Grímsey Island

Other bird species found on Grímsey Island

Being situated on the edge of the Arctic Circle means that Grímsey Island is home to various bird species other than the Atlantic Puffin. These include the Northern , the Great Skua, the , the Red-throated diver, the Turnstone, & the Arctic Tern. Many species of waterfowl spend time on the island, including the Barnacle Goose & the White-fronted Goose.

A European Golden Plover In Golden Light Found On Grímsey Island During The Summer Months

A Fabulous Meadow Pipit Another Of The Residents Of Grímsey Island

A Fabulous Oystercatcher Another Of The Residents Of Grímsey Island

A Female Common Eider In One Of The Inland Pools

A Plethora Of Birds Of Different Types On One The Seabird Cliffs Of Grímsey Island

Which Tours Does NaturesLens Schedule for Photography of Grímsey's Atlantic Puffin Colony?

NaturesLens offers a range of Puffin photography holidays to Grímsey Island designed to allow photographers of all levels to add images of the birds in this magnificent Icelandic Atlantic Puffin colony to their portfolio. These trips generally are conducted in June or July when the Icelandic Island's wildlife is most active.

Our photography holidays allow photographers to capture stunning images of Atlantic Puffins & many other Icelandic species.

A Lone Atlantic Puffin In The Light Of The Midnight Sun Found On Grímsey Island During The Summer Months

At NaturesLens, we aim to provide photographers with an unforgettable experience that will leave them with beautiful, memorable images. Our trips are led by experienced wildlife photographers who are passionate about wildlife photography & are dedicated to helping photographers capture the best images possible.

A Group Of Puffins On One Of The Headlands Found On Grímsey Island With Icelands Mountains In The Background

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