The Wheatear

The Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) is a common breeding bird in Iceland. They are migratory birds with winter grounds in West Africa.

Steindepill – Wheatear – Oenanthe oenanthe

Most Wheatears come to Iceland in May and they are usually flown to their wintergrounds in September. They often visit the garden in the autumn before their departure for Africa. The photoes are taken in Selfoss.

Steindepill – Wheatear – Oenanthe oenanthe

Walrus in Jökulsárlón in 2013

In 2013 we took a trip to the South East of the country. One of the most interesting places there is Jökulsárlón, Glacier Lagoon. When we got there we spotted a small group of people near the shore. They had gathered around a Walrus  (Odobenus rosmarus). We were so surprised, we had never seen a Walrus before.

Rostungur / romshvalur – Walrus – Odobenus rosmarus

This huge animal just lay there enjoying the rest, flipping over every once in a while. Some tourist asked us if it was common to see a Walrus in Iceland and we could tell them that this was a first for us.


Walruses are very seldom seen in Iceland but this animal, a male, is probably accountable for several sightings in 2013.

Sunbathing Walrus and Kristín, a little nervous

Reykjavík Grapevine in English:

Morgunblaðið in Icelandic, with a photo from ORNOSK/Örn Óskarsson:

The Purple Sandpiper is not afraid of people

The Purple Sandpiper (Calidris maritima) is the most common wader in Iceland. It breeds mostly in the interior but can be seen in huge flocks by the seaside in the winter time.

Sendlingur – Purple Sandpiper – Calidris maritima

A lot of Purple Sandpipers come from Greenland and the Nordic countries and stay here during the winter. The Purple Sandpiper is a sociable bird and not afraid of people.

Purple Sandpiper with nestlings

Wood Duck

Brúðönd – Wood Duck – Aix sponsa

The Wood Duck (Aix sponsa) is a common bird in woodlands by lakes in the eastern part of North America. This duck has only been seen seven times in Iceland. Wood Ducks are very beautiful and have been moved to Duck Gardens in Continental Europe. This male was very tame and might very probably have escaped from such  a garden. This photo was taken by the Pond in Reykjavík, October 28, 1994.

Bullfinches flocked to Iceland in 1994

The Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) belongs to the Finch family  (Fringillidae) and breeds throughout most of Europe. They are non-migratory in their habitats but in Scandinavia they are partly migratory birds and vagrant outside their usual habitat, especially when food is scarce.  The Bullfinches that have been seen in Iceland are probably from Scandinavia. The biggest group of Bullfinches to be seen here was in autumn 1994.  That winter 40 to 50 birds were spotted throughout the country.

Dómpápi – Bullfinch – Pyrrhula pyrrhula (male)

This photo was taken in March 1995 in Þrastaskógur, Grímsnes, South Iceland. Seven birds were seen there in the winter 1994 – 1995.

The most loved bird in Iceland

The Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria) is probably the most loved Icelandic bird. Its arrival in the spring is looked forward to because it signals the coming of summer. The Golden Plower is a common breeding bird and it lays its eggs in dry heathland both in lowlands and highlands.

Heiðlóa – Golden Plover – Pluvialis apricaria

The Golden Plower loses its black colour in the winter time and in September most of them have become almost white on the  belly.

Golden Plover in winter dress

The breeding population counts around 300,000 pairs. The Golden Plower goes to Ireland for the coldest months of winter, leaves late (October) and comes back early (April).

The smallest duck in Europe

Urtönd – Teal – Anas crecca (male)

The Teal (Anas crecca) is the smallest duck in Iceland and in the whole of Europe. It can be found both in highlands and lowlands. A part of the breeding population goes to the British Isles in the autumn but huge flocks stay here the whole winter. The breeding population counts around  3,000-5,000 pairs.

Urtönd – Teal – Anas crecca

In Ölfusá by Selfoss town there are usually around 30 – 60 birds in the winter time.

Teal – female laying on eggs
Urtönd – Teal – Anas crecca

These photoes are taken by Tjörnin (the Pond) in Reykjavík and in Veiðivötn (Fishing Lakes) in the southern interior.

Last night’s outing


Last night we had some clear skies and I just couldn’t stay indoors.  Some Northern lights were predicted and despite the cold I went out of town with my camera. I met some like-minded people, among them an American pair that had just come for a 5 days stay in Iceland with the aim of seeing the Northern lights. Yes, I am not the only one who is mesmerised by these natural phenomena.nordurljos-10

Catching the Northern lights on camera is an endless challenge for me. Here’s what came out of last night’s outing.