Lake Mývatn is a paradise for birdwatchers. Everywhere you stop there are birds around you, particularly on the lake itself. When at lake Mývatn, always be on the lookout for Gyr Falcons as they are often found hunting near the lake. One good stop is at hotel Reykjahlíð (1). Stop at the parking area near the hotel and search the lake from there or walk a bit closer to the lake for better views. Drive anti-clockwise around the lake until you reach another superbly rich area at the bay of Neslandavík (2). There are often large flocks of Tufted Duck, Greater Scaup and Eurasian Wigeon in the bay. This area is also particularly good for Common Scoter. A thorough scan of these flocks is likely to yield scarce vagrants such as American Wigeon, Common Pochard and Ring-necked Duck. Sigurgeir’s Bird Museum is located at the farm Ytri Neslönd by the bay. The museum is conveniently located in one of the best birdwatching locations by the lake.
Continuing south from Neslandavík past the farm Vindbelgur you will reach another bay called Álar, nearly as rich in birds as Neslandavík, though the birds are sometimes quite far from land. Again, a thorough scan of flocks of the common ducks of the area is likely to reveal scarcer species. Just (50 m) before you reach the bridge over the river Laxá, take a left turn to a small parking lot by the river and walk towards the river banks. It won’t take you long to find Harlequin Duck, a species which is often quite confiding. This uppermost part of Laxá is the prime habitat for Harlequin and Barrow’s Goldeneye in Iceland. Cross the bridge and drive eastward on road 848 to reach the lake again at the bay of Álftavogur (3) by the farm Álftagerði. Álftavogur is yet another perfect place to search the flocks of ducks for scarcer visitors. A nice little stop is at the church of Skútustaðir. Behind the church there are small lakes in extensive wetlands. This area is good for many species of ducks, including Long-tailed Duck and the occasional Common Pochard. The bay at the farm Garður is sometimes rich in ducks. Another nice viewing area is from the parking area by road nr. 1 just north of the road to the farm Kálfaströnd. This site always holds some Barrow’s Goldeneye and the scenery is very picturesque.
A stop at the woodland park at Höfði (4) will provide an opportunity for a walk through beautiful woodland, with views towards some unusual lava formations in the lake. Birding in the park is interesting as there are plenty of Common Redpoll, Redwing and Winter Wren nesting in the park and ducks on the lake. Quite often, vagrant passerines are found in the park. The large bays of Bolir and Vogaflói north of Höfði often hold interesting ducks and the small bays of Kálfstjörn, just north of the farms of Vogar, and Helgavogur north of Kálfstjörn are excellent places to look for dabbling ducks including Gadwall and the scarce Northern Shoveler. This concludes the circle around lake Mývatn. Head back to the uppermost part of Laxá river and follow the river downstream by road nr. 1. Barrow’s Goldeneye and Harlequin Duck should be seen and you might want to search for the odd Goosander by the river.