Nature plays its tricks

Rjúpa – Ptarmigan – Lagopus mutus

The Ptarmigan changes its colour to white in the winter. Nature is peculiar. The male stays whiter longer but the female gets its camouflage colours earlier to match the colours of nature. The female needs to go unnoticed while keeping the eggs warm in the nest. The male is white and thus catches the attention of predators, keeping them away from the nest.

This photo is taken in the Icelandic Westfjords in the beginning June, 2012.

The Shelduck – a new breeding bird

The Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) is a new breeeding bird in Iceland. The first known breeding was recorded in 1990 in Eyjafjörður, North Iceland.

Brandönd – Shelduck – Tadorna tadorna

Shelducks were first seen by the river Ölfusá  in Selfoss about 10 years ago. They have slowly been increasing in numbers and last spring 16 Shelducks were spotted by the river near Selfoss. They are seen on the river every year with their chicks but nests have never been found.


Photoes taken by the river Ölfusá.

Shelduck – pair with ducklings

February brings us longer days

Ölfusá River / Selfoss

The days are getting longer and although summer is still a long way off we have begun to think of spring. It’s time to start preparing by sowing summer plants and vegetables. The Icelandic summer is so short that to secure a harvest in the autumn preparations have to begin early. That will be this weekend’s project 🙂

The Scaup sheds its feathers in July

Duggönd – Scaup – Aythya marila

The Scaup (Aythya marila) is a common duck in ponds and lakes both in the Icelandic lowlands and highlands, especially in the North and the East.  The breeding populations counts around  2000-5000 pairs. Most of them leave the country in the autumn and overwinter by the shores of Irland and Britain.

Scaup, female

The Scaup is a common breeding bird in Veiðivötn in the southern interior of Iceland. There the males gather in big groups in July and shed, or moult,their feathers . You can see up to 700 birds in a group. Scaups are synchronous moulters, they change their flight feathers all at once in a period of two to four weeks. During this period they cannot fly.

Scaup female and young ducklings

The photoes are taken in Veiðivötn, in the South Interior.

A part of a group of scaups during the process of moulting

The Common Crossbill has started courting

Despite the cold  and the snow the Common Crossbill has started wooing. In South Iceland they start breeding in February and the chicks hatch in March.

Krossnefur – Common Crossbill – Loxia curvirostra

The Common Crossbills are nothing less than spectacular when they sit in the top of a  spruce or pine tree . Their colours match beautifully with the green of the treees, the snow and the blue sky.

The photo of this pair was taken February 2, in Grímsnes, South Iceland.

Redwing all puffed up

This Redwing is all puffed up in the cold. I bet it’s dreaming of warmer weather and the coming of spring, at least we are. This winter has been one of the worst we remember. Endless blizzards week after week and snow that probably won’t melt until April.

Skógarþröstur – Redwing – Turdus iliacus

One of the perks is of course all the birds that frequent our garden, lots of Redpolls, Snow Buntings, Starlings, Crossbills, Thrushes and vagrants such as the Chaffinches. They know for sure that here they will get enough food.