A Snipe in the garden

Hrossagaukur – Snipe – Galinago gallinago

A lot of Snipes have been seen in heathlands and marshlands around Selfoss in the last few days. They have also been seen looking for worms in gardens and one came into ours. As with other moorland birds it is unusual for them to be seen in gardens in urban areas as has been the case in recent days.


Today the weather is better although the nights are still cold with temperatures below zero. The photos were taken yesterday and today in my garden and in the neighbourhood.



Last weekend we went bird watching down to the shore, a 15 minute drive from Selfoss down to Eyrarbakki. Lots of birds caught our eye on the way but here are a few of them.

Lóuþræll – Dunlin – Calidris alpina

This Dunlin (Calidris alpina) was on the beach with Ringed Plovers and Sanderlings, the only one of his kind. Most of them do not arrive in Iceland until May.

Sandlóa – Ringed Plover – Charadrius hiaticula

Lots of Ringed Plovers (Charadrius hiaticula) were on the beach, chasing the tide as it rolled in, probing the sand for small animals. They have started to arrive in Iceland but most of them come in May.

Sendlingur – Purple Sandpiper – Calidris maritima

There were also a lot of Purple Sandpipers (Calidris maritima) but they stay in Iceland the whole year, near the shore in winter and in the interior in the summer time.

Golden Plovers in home gardens

Heiðlóa – Golden Plover – Pluvialis apricaria

Golden Plovers (Pluvialis apricaria) are common sight in gardens in Selfoss now. Usually they prefer the heath but when there is little to be had there they come into gardens. After the frost and wind in the last few days food is obviously scarce. Today there were some in our garden.


The photos of these tame Golden Plovers were taken in Selfoss today. A few other bird species that also prefer heathlands were in gardens in Selfoss today, for example Oystercatchers, Redshanks and Meadow Pipits.

Purple mountain saxifrage

Purple mountain saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia) is a common plant in mountains and highlands. It has the northernmost plant habitat in the world. In Iceland is rather common throughout the country, from lowlands up to an altitude of about 1500 m. It can be found in rocks, cliffs, crevices, gravel and mountainsides.

Vetrarblóm – Purple mountain saxifrage – Saxifraga oppositifolia

It is among the first plants to bloom. In lowlands it blooms in April but in highlands as late as June. Today the Purple mountain saxifrage was just starting to bloom in the  slopes of Mount Ingólfsfjall, just outside Selfoss.

Seeing Wheatears made our day

Steindepill – Wheatear – Oenanthe oenanthe

We were looking for a Gyrfalcon, which we did not find, when we came across our first  Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe) this spring. There were a few at the roots of Mount Ingólfsfjall, most of them males. Their winter grounds are in West Africa.  They make their nests in rocks, lava and  heathland, mostly in lowlands but also in highlands. Greenlandic Wheatears stopover in Iceland in spring and autumn on their way to their breeding grounds in Greenland. The breeding population here counts around 50,000 pairs.


The photos were taken today.

The most beautiful wader

Jaðrakan – Black-tailed Godwit – Limosa limosa

In the last few days a few Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa) have been spotted near Selfoss. This morning there were 12 on the banks of  Ölfusá River and a few flying by the seaside in Eyrarbakki. The Black-tailed Godwit is one of the most beautiful waders that breed in Iceland and their arrival in spring awaited with anticipation.

Oystercatcher and Black-tailed Godwit this morning near Eyrarbakki

Celebrating The First Day of Summer

Brent Geese in huge flocks flying in from the sea and Eiders by Ölfusá River mouth this morning

Today Icelanders celebrate the coming of summer – it is the First Day of Summer. Can you believe it? Here in the North where the weather forecast predicts frost, and snow in the north of the country, we are all hyper optimistic and wishing each other a good summer.  The folk lore says that if there is frost the night before the First Day of Summer, winter and summer freeze together, and the summer will be a good one. This happened tonight. Statistics, on the other hand, tell us that this is not correct. But this we close our ears to.

The photo was taken this morning of Brent Geese and Eiders by Ölfusá River- mouth. Brent Geese are now arriving in huge flocks, having flown over the Atlantic from their winter grounds in the British Isles. Here they have a stopover on their way to their summer grounds in North Canada.

Tagged Greylag Goose – AZF

You always see tagged birds once in a while. The bigger ones sometimes have tags around the neck but it is more usual to see ringing on the feet, at least on smaller birds. Tagging gives information about the migration of birds between countries. It can also give indictions  of how old wild birds can get .

Grágæs – Greylag Goose – Anser anser

This Greylag Goose was tagged in Dell of Killyhuntly, near Kinguusie, Highland Region, Scotland on May 22, 2012. Here it is in a meadow just south of Selfoss, South Iceland on April 20, 2015. This is a female Greylag and it was two years old when it was tagged.

It most likely goes to Scotland every year but its breeding place in Iceland is not known.