Iceland’s most active volcano, Hekla, is said to be ready to erupt any time. The pressure inside this famous South Iceland volcano is greater than before the last two eruptions. So we should be on our toes.
Since 1970, when Hekla last erupted, the interval between eruptions has been more less or less ten years. According to scientists Hekla has built up a great deal of magma in recent years. Although the last few eruptions in Hekla have not been big and not involved serious danger one never knows what exactly to expect. The lead up to an eruption in Hekla can be very short and that is a concern.
Hekla is a popular attraction and groups often hike in the mountain. There is some worry that this could be dangerous in view of the short notice of eruption and people are warned not to be on the mountain. Airplanes flying over could also be in danger if scientist are not taken seriously.
Summer solstice was yesterday – the longest day of the year. This photo was taken just before midnight when the sun breaks through the cloudy northern sky over Mount Ingólfsfjall with Ölfusá River in the foreground.
The Great Northern Diver is without doubt king of its habitat in the interior. Most highland lakes with fish sport at least one couple who nest there every summer and raise their young ones. Usually the chicks are two and the parents take good care of them. It is not unusual to see the chick being transported on the back of the parents.
In Veiðivötn, in English Fishing Lakes, in the southern interior the Great Northern Diver stands out. Pairs are on most of the lakes and non-breeding birds can sometimes be seen in groups.
Not many things are more captivating than the Diver’s wails which can be heard all over the place in the stillness of the twilight.
In Hellisskógur by Selfoss there is a little pond in the wood where wetland has been restored.
In the last four weeks a few Red-Necked Phalaropes have been on the pond feeling at home it seems . The Phalaropes’ nests are well hidden in the dense vegetation and difficult to find so whether they have bred and nested by the pond remains to be seen. Hopefully their chicks will appear on the water in the next couple of weeks.
This weekend we drove into the interior for our annual bird count of the Fishing Lakes area, Veiðivötn, in the Southern part of the Icelandic highlands. The snow is melting quickly now and most roads have cleared. We came across this pair of Ringed Plovers that were hoping around their nest, keeping intruders away.
Ringed Plovers are migrants that breed all over the country, from coastal areas to the interior. Their typical habitat is sandy areas with scarce vegetation.
The pine is at its most beautiful now with male and female cones. The red flowers at the top are female cones and the lighter pink ones near the bottom of the picture are the male cones packed with pollen. The darker cones are from last year.
The Arctic Tern’s favourite nesting places are near the sea or lakes where they are sure to get some small fish, sticklebacks or fingerlings. During the breeding time the males start feeding the females.
To lay healthy eggs the female needs more food and the male seems to know this. The female squeaks loudly and waits for food, keeping the males very busy. It is an interesting sight to see.
The Common Crossbill’s breeding this spring has gone exceptionally well. Groups of chicks with grown ups are on the move and have been seen in many places. The weather plays a part in this fruitfulness and also the availability of food. The weather was good during the incubation time, few bad winds, few cold spells and little rain.
In the last few days groups of Common Crossbills with chicks have visited the garden and eaten sunflower seeds. Today we counted 15 Crossbills, mostly chicks, on the feeding tray. In Grímsnes, not far from Selfoss, 20 chicks along with several adults were seen around a feeding tray. This is considerably more birds than in recent years.
But how will all these Crossbills fare in Iceland?
It seems that the future is bright for Common Crossbills. There are indications that it will be a record year in cones and seed development in spruce trees, at least in the southern part of the country. These cones will mature by the end of July and then Crossbills will turn to eating seed. Until then their menu will consist of insects and perhaps sunflower seeds from visits to “nice” people’s feeding trays .