Quietly sneaking about

Glóbrystingur – European Robin – Erithacus rubecula

The European Robin has been an annual autumn guest in our garden for the last four years but before that we did not see one here for more than 15 years. From the beginning of November a Robin has visited us. It usually appears when there are few other birds around, quietly sneaking about in the undergrowth and visiting the feeders.

Usually one Robin claims  the garden as its territory and drives other Robins away.

A number of European Robins were spotted around the country after a Southeast storm in October. They are annual vagrants in Iceland and are known to have bred here.

A rare American visitor

Dulþröstur – Hermit Thrush – Catharus guttatus

The Hermit Thrush, a very rare American vagrant, was spotted in Iceland this week by Lake Thingvallavatn. This is the12th time that a Hermit Thrush is seen in Iceland. It breeds in North America, as northerly as Alaska and Canada. It winters in South America or the southern states of USA – so this poor little guy is very far from home.

The Hermit Thrush lives in woodlands and is often seen in the undergrowth, foraging in leaves and foliage looking for food. It is not a garden bird and is almost never seen at feeders. It might come into gardens in winter to look for berries.  – So we are probably not going  to see one in our garden.

Big groups of Bramblings

Fjallafinka – Brambling – Fringilla montifringilla

Never before have we been visited by so many Bramblings. In late October big groups could be seen in the East, probably more birds than have ever been seen in Iceland. These have now spread around the country and we are so fortunate as to have our own group here the garden.

For two weeks now we have counted three to seven Bramblings every day. Yesterday there were at least seven outside our living room window. The Brambling is a breeding bird in Northern Europe and usually flies southwards for winter. Although the Brambling is a vagrant in Iceland, some instances of breeding have been recorded.

These are beautiful birds and mostly peaceful so a good addition to our usual lot. We hope they will join our group of garden birds, Redpolls, Blackbirds, Crossbills and Starling, – and stay for the winter.

Reindeers in Iceland

Hreindýr – Reindeer – Rangifer tarandus

Reindeers are not native to Iceland. They were brought here in the years 1771 to 1787, in four trips, from Finnmark, North Scandinavia.The reindeers have mostly been located in Northeast Iceland and have thrived well there. In the last few decades their distribution has been increasing to the east and southeast, all the way to Glacier Lagoon (Jökulsárlón).

In autumn hunting is permitted but there are very strict regulations concerning the permits and the number of animals killed. Not everyone is content with the hunting of these majestic mammals but  it plays a part in controlling their numbers in the fragile vegetation of the Icelandic Highlands.

The pictures are of a female reindeer and probably a young stag.

A first for Iceland

Bláskotta – Red-flanked Bluetail – Tarsiger cyanurus (juv)

This Red-flanked Bluetail is a first for Iceland! Two birds were spotted last week. These beautiful birds are supposed to fly south to warmer climates in winter. Their summer habitat is in Northern Asia and Northeast Europe, as far as Finland. They winter in Southeast Asia.

The Red-flanked Bluetail has been a rare vagrant in Western Europe but has lately been spotted more often, mostly in Great Britain. This one was obviously blown off course and ended up in Southeast Iceland, in the fishing village of Höfn in Hornafjörður.

ORNOSK’s picture of the Red-flanked Bluetail appeared in Iceland’s leading newspaper:  http://www.mbl.is/frettir/innlent/2017/10/24/flaekingsfugla_hrekur_til_islands/

The little housekeeper

Músarrindill – Wren – Troglodytes troglodytes

The Wren is very busy these days catching winter moths. It seems to be a great part of its diet at this time of year. This clever little bird is very diligent and picks them off the walls and in crevices where they might hide.

One has claimed our house as his own private property, driving others away with force, and cleaning the moths off the walls like a perfect little housekeeper.

There are more  Wrens this autumn than often before so this summer seems to have been a prosperous one.

Autumn leaves

The colours of autumn are always as fascinating. Every year the coming season amazes me in its beauty. Hopefully this will continue to be so for years to come. – Have a happy winter here in the Northern hemisphere.

Common American vagrant

Græningi – Red-eyed Vireo – Vireo olivaceus

The Red-eyed Vireo is an American vagrant and a near annual in Iceland. This autumn two have been spotted in Iceland, one in Stokkseyri and the other near the neighbouring village Eyrarbakki, in Floi Reserve.

This is the third year in a row that a Red-eyed Vireo is spotted in the same garden in Stokkseyri – nice coincident that. The birds that fly off course, way over the North Atlantic, will not survive the winter in Iceland. Their winter habitat is in warmer climates, in lowland forests in South America.

Autumn in the garden

It is autumn and winter is almost upon us. Last night temperatures dropped to around zero, 0° C. There are still groups of Starlings here, and Redwings and Blackbirds eating berries. Most of the Redwings will be flying South soon.

Our new visitors this autumn, the Siskins, are migrants but whether they stay for the winter remains to be seen. There are still eight of them here. Once winter comes and the seeds from trees and plants become scarce Redpolls, Crossbills and Siskins will be dependant on the feed put out for them.