Ice caves

Icecave in Landmannalaugar

There is still a lot of snow in the interior from last winter. Much of it will not melt this summer and might, with time, turn into glacier ice.  In canyons and gores, creeks have melted tunnels through the ice, creating ice caves. Here is a photo of one of these interesting natural phenomena in the Landmannalaugar area in the southern highlands of Iceland.

Wild mushrooms

Lerkisveppur – Larch Bolete – Suillus grevillei

These wild mushrooms, know as Greville’s Bolete or Larch Bolete, are found in forests, near larch trees. We pick them at this time of year, wipe the top and fry them in butter before they go to the freezer.


During winter we use them for soups and sauces. They are mild in flavour but it is worth the while because mushroom hunting is such a nice hobby.

Mushroom hunting in the forest
Mushroom hunting in the forest

The autumn’s first Northern Lights


In the last few nights Northern Lights have adorned the night sky over Iceland.  From around August 20 the nights become dim enough for the Northern Lights to become visible, but in summer it is too bright. Last night, around midnight, the Northern Lights could be seen, here in the sky above the church at Úlfljótsvatn (South Iceland, near Þingvallavatn). They were bright enough to be seen despite the bright moonlight.


Canada Goose

Kanadagæs – Branta canadensis – Canada Goose and Whooper Swans

The Canada Goose is an annual vagrant in Iceland. Most of these geese probably come from Europe. Once in a while, however, a smaller type is seen which could be originated from North America.

A Canada Goose in the company of Whooper Swans
A Canada Goose in the company of Whooper Swans

In the last few weeks a smaller Canada Goose (perhaps ssp interior) has been seen among some Whooper Swans by Lake Snjóölduvatn in Veiðivötn (Fishing Lakes) in the South Interior. It is rather shy and not easy to get near it.

The call of the Diver (Loon)

Himbrimi - Great Northern Diver - Gavia immer
Himbrimi – Great Northern Diver – Gavia immer

The wail of the Great Northern Diver (Common Loon) is very familiar and is used unsparingly in the film industry. It is one of the top ten sound effects we all recognise from movies.  Hear it here. Movies from all over the world seem to use its call. To the ear of the birder it sounds very silly, especially when it is used in places far from the Great Northern Diver’s habitat.

Black sand

Icelandic sands are usually black lending the scenery a dark desolate appearance. Black sands are not so common in other places.

Black sand- Black desert

The Icelandic sands are composed of volcanic minerals and lava. These sands can be found on the coasts of volcanic islands such as Hawai,  the Canary Islands, the Aleutians, to name a few.


Black sands are nice backgrounds for photographing people. Here is Aldís who loves the barren interior of Iceland. It’s raining and the wind is blowing but that only makes the experience more  worthwhile.


The sand  is black because many volcanic minerals and rocks are dark-coloured. Common rock types of volcanic islands are basalt, andesite and volcanic glass.  Minerals such as pyroxene, amphibole and iron oxide also lend the sand its black colour.


Blazing sunset


Casting orange and pink colours over the now calm river and the night sky makes you want time to stand still. The nights are no longer bright, sunset being at around 9.30 by now, just after the middle of August. Soon we will be saying goodbye to summer but hopefully we will get a few good days before autumn is here. The forecast is promising warm weather for the next week although perhaps a bit wet during the weekend.

Purple Sandpiper with chicks

Sendlingur – Purple Sandpiper – Calidris maritima

The Purple Sandpiper is a breeding bird in the Icelandic highlands but during the winter time it resides along the coast.


In the beginning of August I came across this Purple Sandpiper with its two chicks in Veiðivötn (Fishing Lakes) in the southern interior. They move down to the sea once frost and snow make it impossible for them to get to their feed.

Purple Sandpiper chick

Glacier lagoon fireworks show


Jökulsárlón, Glacier Lagoon, is in the southeast of Iceland. It is one of the most famous tourist attractions here. Around 200 to 300 thousand people come there every year and several thousand come to see the annual fireworks show.


Yesterday was the 16th time this event took place. The fireworks are lit up from the icebergs in the lagoon and light up the the ice and the water, – a beautiful spectacle.  It’s well worth the trip there when the weather is favourable.


These photoes are from the event in August 2012.