Gannets at Stóri-Karl

Súla - Northern Gannet - Morus bassanus
Súla – Northern Gannet – Morus bassanus

The Gannet is the largest seabird in the North Atlantic. Gannets eat fish and flocks of them can be seen plunging into the sea from heights up to 30 – 40 metres. They spends most of their life at sea.


Gannets don’t reach maturity until the age of five. They breed in colonies by coasts and islands and usually lay only one egg.


Iceland’s second largest Gannet colony is at Stóri-Karl and Skoruvíkurbjarg in Langanes Peninsula. Stóri-Karl is a bird rock in the sea beside the cliff. These pictures are taken there.

Stóri-Karl in Skoruvík, Langanes
Stóri-Karl in Skoruvík, Langanes

Birdwatching platform at Skoruvíkurbjarg

Platform with a view to the Gannet colony at Stóri-Karl

Langanes peninsula is the northeasternmost part of Iceland and a treat for birdwatchers. It is one of the most remote places and there is only a dirt road so you should not be in a hurry.  The road leads you to the narrow tip called Fontur where you have the North Atlantic surrounding you in several directions.


In Skoruvíkurbjarg and Skálavíkurbjarg are steep sea cliffs. The area is known for its rich birdlife and at Skoruvíkurbjarg is the second biggest Gannet colony in Iceland.

Trying to overcome her fear of heights

There is a very good birdwatching platform at Skoruvíkurbjarg where it is possible to see the Gannet, the Brünnich’s Guillemot, the Kittiwake and more at close hand. From the platform you have a view down to Stóri-Karl, a sea rock, which is home to the magnificent Gannet.


Learning to cope

Tjaldur – Oystercatcher – Haematopus ostralegus

The Oystercatcher is mostly a migrant in Iceland and quite common in lowlands. It usually arrives in the middle of March making it one of the first migrants to great us and signal the coming of a new season. On our trip to the Northeast we came across this chick that was learning to find food on its own. Seeing it imitate the parent was more than adorable.


Keeping the cats away

Skógarþröstur – Redwing – Turdus iliacus

The Redwing is mostly a migrant in Iceland but some of them stay for the winter. There are always some in our garden and we feed them in the wintertime. This summer we have seen a number of young ones and parents that feed them diligently. Our main concern though is keeping the neighbourhood cats away and we think we have been quite successful this summer. We spread coffee grounds, along with egg shell, in the cats’ favourite hiding places and it seems they don’t want to get their feet dirty.

Skógarþröstur – Redwing – Turdus iliacus (juv)

Ptarmigan family

Rjúpa – Ptarmigan – Lagopus mutus (juv)

We came across a Ptarmigan family, parents with five chicks. Their camouflage colours in summer match the colours of nature so they are not too easily spotted. The chicks were quite small, perhaps a week old but already able the fly. Naturally the parents were busy trying to distract us, especially the mother though.

Rjúpa – Ptarmigan – Lagopus mutus (female)

Usually the fathers leave the family shortly after the chicks hatch but this dad seems to be taking a responsible part in the upbringing.

Rjúpa - Ptarmigan - Lagopus mutus (male)
Rjúpa – Ptarmigan – Lagopus mutus (male)

Chick time

Jaðrakan – Black-tailed Godwit – Limosa limosa (juv)

All over the moors chicks  can be seen – chicks of Golden Plovers, Black-tailed Godwits , Whimbrels, Redshanks, Common Snipes, Ptarmigans and more. They are all over the place, in bogs and moors. Now is the perfect time to observe nature at its most beautiful. Due to mild weather in May and June breeding and hatching went well.

Heiðlóa - Golden Plover - Pluvialis apricaria
Heiðlóa – Golden Plover – Pluvialis apricaria (juv)

Yesterday we saw Golden Plover chicks and Black-Tailed Godwit chicks in Grímsnes. They were well looked after by the parents.