Highland roads

Veiðivatnaleið, road to Veiðivötn

This winter has been long and waiting for summer has tested the patience of Icelanders. Highland roads were blocked by ice and snow longer than usually. The interior attracts a lot of tourist and many have booked trips, cars, cottages and fishing permits months and even years in advance. For these closed roads are not an option. The roads to the tourist attractions,  Landmannalaugar and Veiðivötn, in the southern interior, usually open around June 10. The road to Landmannnalaugar now opened on June 26 and the road to Veiðivötn on June 18.  This was with the help of bulldozers. Most highland roads are still closed.


Whimbrel on a fence post

The Whimbrel is a wader, has long legs and a long  curved bill. It is a migratory bird, a symbol for the coming of summer. Its song is very special, – listen to it here.

Spói – Whimbrel – Numenius phaeopus

The Whimbrels are quite common in Iceland and breed all over the country both in lowlands and highlands. The eggs are usually 3 or 4 and the parents both take responsibility for keeping the eggs warm.

Despite this the Whimbrel is one of the birds that are listed as a threatened species in the UK. It has the status Red which means that the species needs urgent action.

Spói – Whimbrel – Numenius phaeopus

I came across this beautiful Whimbrel this morning in the Bird Reserve in Flói. Already the ones who did not breed are starting to flock and thinking about their long flight back to their winter grounds in Africa.

Mount Hekla

Mount Hekla in the midnight sun, 25 June 2015

Mount Hekla has been dormant since the year 2000. An eruption is expected but it is difficult to predict. Activity has been reported several times in recent years and in 2013 a general warning was issued. People were warned against going on the mountain and air traffic surveillance levels were increased temporarily. Now the whole of the volcano is covered in ice and no snowless patches which might indicate activity can be seen.

Mount Hekla at noon, 25 June.
Mount Hekla at noon, 25 June.

Mount Hekla has erupted many times in the last decades. The last eruption lasted from 26 February until 8 March 2000. An eruption this summer would not come as a surprise.

Harlequins don’t go unnoticed

Straumönd – Harlequin Duck – Histrionicus histrionicus

The Harlequin Duck does not go unnoticed in the males bright maroon, white and blue colors. The males do not give up and try to catch the attention of the females although breeding time is well on its way. The Harlequins  like spring water rivers and the individuals that do not mate gather in flocks.


The photos are taken in Veiðivötn in the South Iceland Interior.

Love birds


We enjoy watching out for the birds in our garden and feeding them. Spring and summer are something we look forward to – the time when everything comes alive and the birds start courting and nest making. But summer time is not all blizz. Almost everyday newly hatched chicks fall prey to overfed house cats. This sketch is an interpretation of a pair mourning the loss of a young one.

Rivals driven away

Mýtvatn is the place in Iceland where you can expect to see the Gadwall (Anas strepera). They can very often be seen in pairs because they find their mate as early as late autumn and stay together the whole winter.

Gargönd – Gadwall – Anas strepera

Here we see a male vigorously chasing a  rival away from his mate.
The Gadwall is known for stealing food from other ducks. They are  widespread and increasing in numbers. In Iceland they mainly breed in the North, around Mývatn.


Colorful Teal

Urtönd - Teal - Anas crecca
Urtönd – Teal – Anas crecca / Þingvellir, South Iceland

The smallest Icelandic duck is the Teal  (Anas crecca). It is also one of the most colorful ducks, as well as perhaps the most beautiful.

Lake Mývatn, North Iceland

It can be seen all over Iceland, both in lowlands and highlands. It is, however, usually not easy to get close to it as it is shy and easily disturbed.