Dettifoss – Jökulsárgljúfur National Park

Dettifoss seen from the east bank

Dettifoss is one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls, it is also the most powerful one, not only in Iceland but the whole of Europe. Being the location of the breathtaking opening scene of the movie Prometheus has not made it any less attractive to tourists.

Seen from the west, down the canyon
Seen from the west, down the canyon

Dettifoss is around 45 metres high and 100 metres wide. It is part of Jökulsárgljúfur National Park.

Dettifoss, west bank
Dettifoss, west bank

Meadow Pipits migrating

Þúfutittlingur – Meadow Pipit – Anthus pratensis

Meadow Pipits have now gathered in groups and roam the countrysides in search of food. They are eagerly preparing for the long journey to their winter grounds in South Europe and Africa. Most of them will leave in the coming week when flying conditions over the Atlantic are favourable.  The groups are exceptionally big now which indicates that breeding was very successful this summer.


In the South Interior last week Meadow Pipits were by the thousands, bigger groups than we have seen before.  They were eating berries, larva and spiders, all of which seemed in abundance. This Meadow Pipit was in Veiðivötn, South Iceland.


Sandpiper enjoying life

Sendlingur – Purple Sandpiper – Calidris maritima

The summer has been exceptionally good in Iceland and its effects can be seen in both fauna and flora in the interior. Golden Plovers, Ringed Plovers and  Purple Sandpipers are common breeding birds in the highlands and for them life has been good. Breeding was very successful and when summer is coming to an end bigger groups than in recent years can be seen all over the Icelandic highlands.

Mating ritual of the male

The photos are from Veiðivötn (Fishing Lakes) in the southern interior.



Aldeyjarfoss in Bárðardalur

Aldeyjarfoss in Skjálfandafljót in Bárðardalur

Aldeyjarfoss is a waterfall in the river Skjálfandafljót which comes from Iceland’s, and Europe’s, biggest glacier, Vatnajökull. It is situated deep in the valley Bárðardalur where the highland road Sprengisandur starts.


The waterfall, although not much higher than 20 metres,  is spectacular and no photo can give it enough credit. Beautiful black basalt columns are contrasted by the force of glacial water and the drive to the waterfall and short walk down from the parking space are so much worth it.


The surrounding landscape consists of lava fields and rich green pastureland, full of birdlife and sheep. There are also a few sheep farms in the area, because although remote and on the edge of the highlands, the area is one of Iceland’s best suited for sheep farming.
See map:

Red-breasted Merganser spooked

Toppönd – Red-breasted Merganser – Mergus serrator

Last week we saw a Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer)  sneak up on a Red-breasted Merganser with its chicks several meters from the shore.  The Diver behaved like a sheepdog and prevented the group from going on the lake. It dived towards them and forced them up to the shore repeatedly.


The Merganser was on constant look out both on and under the water surface. Although the Diver’s mate and chick were in about 1 km distance the diver thought the Merganser and its chicks were a threat which should be kept at bay.


The Great Northern Diver is known for its fierce treatment of intruders that venture into its territory.  It is known to dive under other birds wounding them with its spear-shaped bill.  People have witnessed them killing both duck and geese chicks this way and even adult birds, such as the Long-tailed Duck.

Preparing for an attack