Fireweed autumn colours

Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) in an island in Rivr Ölfusá and Mt Hekla in the background

Autumn colours catch the eye everywhere at this time of year. Red, orange and yellow in adundance.  The bright red here is the autumn colour of the Rosebay Willowherb, more commonly referred to as Fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium). This beautiful plant is used both for food and medicine. Fireweed builds a thriving plant community by spreading its tiny seeds and with lateral root networks.  In an island in River Ölfusá this is the case and the plant is overrunning other vegetation.

Goldcrests and aphids

Glókollur – Goldcrest – Regulus regulus

After a warm summer Goldcrests have prospered in Icelandic forests. They mostly keep to spruce trees but can also be spotted in  larch trees, birch and contorta pine groves.

Green Spruce Aphid (Elatobium abietinum) on Sitka Spruce  needle (Picea sitchensis).

The winter should also be a good one for these little birds that once were vagrants. Their main food source in South Iceland are minute bugs called aphids that suck sap from spruce trees. These aphids are now  reproducing rapidly  on the Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis).


We spotted at least four Goldcrests last week in Hellisskógur by Selfoss.

Skálar and Camp Greely

Remnants of the old fishing village Skálar

In the 1920s Skálar in Langanes was a prosperous fishing village with around 120 inhabitants. During the summertime their numbers doubled. In 1940, during World War II, a few British soldiers were stationed there to guard the coast. In 1942 the Americans arrived and built a radar station in the heath above the village. The camp was called Camp Greely.


The soldiers were on good terms with the villagers, they brought them canned goods and Christmas gifts to the children.  Advances in the fish industry led to the decline of the village and people started to move away from this remote place. Around 1945 only one family was left.


What amazes us is that people lived in such a remote place without a lot of things we take for granted today like e.g. electricity. Skálar is an interesting place to visit both for its history and the scenery.

Baird´s Sandpiper

Leirutíta – Baird´s Sandpiper – Calidris bairdii

For the last few days a juvenile Baird´s Sandpiper has been seen in Bakkatjörn in Seltjarnarnesi /Reykjavík. It is a vagrant in Iceland. This is a tame bird that is easy to observe from a short distance as it searches for worms in the  in the mud.


The Baird´s Sandpiper is a rather uncommon breeding bird in the Artic regions of East Siberia, Alaska,  Canada and in Northwestern Greenland. Its winter grounds are in South America.


Baird´s Sandpiper is seen once in a while in Europe. In Iceland it has been spotted eight times, first in 1994.