Grey Heron

The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) is a vagrant in Iceland. Every year several of them come from Scandinavia and stay for the winter. A few are also seen here in the summer time. They stay near lakes, rivers and ponds where they catch fish which is their favourite food.

Gráhegri - Grey Heron - Ardea cinerea
Gráhegri – Grey Heron – Ardea cinerea

The Grey Heron is a big bird and on flight sometimes mistaken for a bird of prey.


This Grey Heron was in the Eyjafjöll area in South Iceland. We saw it around mid day resting on one leg and also later near the close of day where it was fishing.


Continue reading Grey Heron

The first Blackcap

Hettusöngvari – Blackcap – Sylvia atricapilla
Hettusöngvari – Blackcap – Sylvia atricapilla

We spotted this season’s first Blackcap, a male, in the garden today. Blackcaps are annual vagrants and the first ones are usually seen in the end of October but most of them come in the first week of November. Blackcaps have sometimes stayed in the garden the whole winter. How well they cope depends on how mild the winter is. They mostly eat berries from shrubs and the apples that we put out. They also like fat and compete with the other birds for food.

Eating an apple
Eating an apple

This Blackcap was in our garden in Selfoss today.

Full Moon tonight


We had a full Moon tonight and the sky was clear so you could not have missed it if you were looking. We watched as it crawled up into the sky, changing colours from almost orange to yellow and then to white as dusk was falling.  –Such a wonderful sight.


The Moon is full when it is completely illuminated as seen from the Earth. This occurs when the Moon is opposite to the Sun. The lunar month is 29-30 days so we have a full Moon about 12 times a year.



First Day of Winter

Yesterday was the First Day of Winter. According to Icelandic tradition First Day of Winter is on the Saturday in the period 21st to 27th October. This day is not celebrated in Iceland, although in the olden days there was a tradition of feasts at this time of year when the meat supply was at its greatest. The winter weather was e.g. predicted by the behaviour of mice, birds and other animals.

Busy eating berries

Redwing at Hof in Öræfi, Southeast Iceland

Some Redwings are still around but their numbers are decreasing. They are eating berries like there is no tomorrow. It is no telling whether they are preparing for their long journey over the Atlantic to winter grounds in Europe or if they are just trying to put on weight for the winter ahead.


Hunting season started

Rjúpa – Ptarmigan – Lagopus mutus

The Ptarmigan has almost shed its summer plumage, getting whiter every day. While the ground is snowless it is easy to spot this tame bird. Tomorrow is the start of the hunting season, which lasts 12 days or four long weekends. Estimated breeding population has dropped from last year. Despite this the number of hunting days has not been changed. Hopefully it will snow so the Ptarmigan will not be as easy to spot. According to the weather forecast this might come true tomorrow.

Three rare birds in a day

Græningi – Red-eyed Vireo – Vireo olivaceus

Bird watching is an interesting pass time. There are not as many species to observe on an isolated island like Iceland, out in the North Atlantic Ocean, as there are on the mainland. But there are days when exotic birds are seen,some of which have come from afar. Today was such a day.

Garðaskotta – Redstart – Phoenicurus phoenicurus

On my  bird watching trip down to the shore I saw three vagrant bird species; Red-eyed Vireo from America, and Chiffchaff and Redstart from Europe.  The Red-eyed Vireo and the Redstart were seen in a garden in the village Stokkseyri on the exact same spot that I saw a Red-eyed Vireo on September 30, last year. Strange coincidence that. The Red-eyed Vireo is one of the most common American vagrants in Iceland and I have seen five in the last few years.

Chiffchaff – Phylloscopus collybita – Gransöngvari

These are all taken today.

Newlyweds at Glacier Lagoon


In recent years it has become popular to have your wedding pictures taken  in the great outdoors. Couples often travel long distances to be united in marriage and Iceland is a popular destination.


Last weekend we came upon these newlyweds at Glacier Lagoon, Southeast Iceland. I secretly caught pictures of them when no one was watching – hope they don’t mind. It was windy and the temperature just +5°C.  We wish them a very happy future and warmer days than this one by the Lagoon surrounded by icebergs under the biggest glacier in Europe.

More on Glacier Lagoon – Walrus, – Fireworks

Tree of the year 2015

A ram stands watch
A ram stands watch

Last month the Icelandic Forestry Association announced Tree of the year 2015. This special tree is a rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) that was planted in 1923 in Sandfell in Öræfi, Southeast Iceland.

The Rowan is around 12 metres high
The Rowan is around 12 metres high

It is a special tree for many reasons. The weather conditions in Öræfi are not ideal. Here you get the strongest storms in Iceland. This rowan is very prominent in the scenery, it has seven thick trunks and it stands alone below the mountain Sandfell. The lady who planted the tree got it as a present from a friend.

In the settlement of Iceland around the year 900 the area around Sandfell was claimed by a woman.  She was a widow named Thorgerdur and the first woman to claim land as her own.