| ||At the crossroads of the Arctic, American and European geographic areas, Iceland is home to a varied bird population: 70 species regularly go and nest there and 300 others are there punctually. 14 km south of Iceland’s coast, Eldey island, a 70 m high rocky piton listed as a natural reserve, welcomes one of the largest colonies of gannets (Morus bassanus) - almost 40.000 - in the world every year. The birds arrive on the island in January-February to nest and leave in September to hibernate off the shore of the African coasts after having given birth to just one chick per couple. Like almost a quarter of the Palearctic region’s bird species, the gannets migrate to Africa, travel over 300 km a day and brave natural risks (contrary winds, predators) as well as dangers caused by human activities (hunting, environmental damage, pesticides, less fish because of fishing, climate changes…). Gannets have 6.000 Kittiwakes (Rissa tridactyla), 5.000 Guillemots (Uria aalge) and a thousand Brünnich’s Guillemots (Uria lomvia) as neighbours. It is on Eldey Island that the two last Great Auks (Alca impennis) were exterminated in 1844. This species used to be widespread but is now extinct.
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