A Siskin appeared in the garden this week, one of its kind. It stayed for two days and then was on its way. Such a beautiful bird and easy to notice in its bright yellow and black plumage that catches the eye. It is an annual guest here in spring and autumn.
Since autumn this Robin has been a daily guest in the garden. Our Robin roams the neighbourhood but always turns up again. We have news of another one just over the river. Hopefully they are a male and a female that will pair up and breed here in the spring.
The Robin is a rather common vagrant in Iceland and is known to have breed here.
The most voluminous river in Iceland is River Ölfusá. Around this time of year you can expect to see a lot of ducks and gulls there, some Greylags and Swans and a Gyrfalcon, a Merlin or even a White-tailed Eagle flying above.
Due to spring water a big part of the river never freezes. When creeks and lakes are frozen over, River Ölfusá is the perfect winter habitat for birds. The river flows just outside our window about 50m away from our house.
Circles or “Frost Boils” are formed when wet surfaces and mud freezes. This happens where there is no vegetation to bind the soil. The soil expands and pushes up the gravel that is in the way, the bigger stones moving outwards to the sides creating a circle. These rings are about one foot in diameter but in the highlands where there is permafrost they can become several meters.
The new year greets us with some cold northerly winds and clear blue skies. We have said goodbye to the old year, which had its ups and downs – hoping that in 2018 we humans will strive to make the world better. If ever there was reason for taking better care of the environment it is now. We wish you all a prosperous year – peace to all, Kristín and Örn.
The Ptarmigan blends well into the snow covered landscape in its winter plumage. Predators such as foxes, falcons and the human can not easily spot it in the winter twilight. This Ptarmigan has survived the hunting season which is limited to a few long weekends in October and November. Ptarmigan used to be a popular Christmas dinner in Iceland but as the stock has been decreasing in numbers and the hunting season limited, fewer and fewer families chose to eat this beautiful bird. That is something to be thankful for.
Today, December 21, is the northern winter solstice. It is when the sun’s elevation in the sky is at its lowest, i.e. the shortest day of the year and the longest night. Here in Selfoss sunrise was at 11:15 and sunset at 15:29 and the sun is just 2.7° over the horizon at midday.
After tomorrow the days will start to get longer, something almost everyone looks forward to. Happy Solstice 🙂
There are a lot of Common Crossbills in spruce and pine forests now but these settlers seem to thrive well in Iceland and have become part of the Icelandic fauna.
Cones are in abundance and the Crossbills are therefore well fed. They have been breeding since autumn and even now in December we have seen young chicks, although February is the month you would expect them to start breeding.
Chicks from the autumn are now feeding on their own but we still get them here in the garden where they can indulge themselves on sunflower seeds. The photos are from last week in Grímsnes, South Iceland.