Birds on poles

Jaðrakan – Black-Tailed Godwit – Limosa limosa

In May moorland birds claim their territories and defend and guard them if intruders venture too near. To survey their territory these landowners often perch on hills, rocks or fence poles to get a better view.

Stelkur – Redshank – Tringa totanus

In the lowlands in South Iceland fence poles are popular for these observations and used a lot by Black-Tailed Godwits, Common Snipes and Redshanks.

Hrossagaukur – Snipe – Gallinago gallinago

Leucistic Snipe

Hrossagaukur – Snipe – Gallinago gallinago

This Snipe is not at all what we are used to. A genetic mutation is to blame for pigment not being deposited in the feathers, a condition called leucism. Leucistic birds usually have a light or almost white plumage, sometimes with spots but unlike albinism the bill and feet  have some coloring.

Leucistic Snipes are very rare but a few occasions are known in the last few years e.g. in the Westman Islands and in Tjörnes, in the Northeast.

Just an ordinary Snipe

Last year a white Snipes was spotted south of Hveragerði and again  last week in the same area . Most likely this is the same bird as last year.

Singing day and night

Fjallafinka – Brambling – Fringilla montifringilla

The Brambling is an annual vagrant in Iceland. Reportedly there are quite a few in Iceland now, scattered around the country. There are some known cases of breeding in Iceland but not in the last few years. With so many Bramblings here now, one can not but hope.

This male Brambling was in our neighbourhood for a week. It sang day and night but there were no females around. It probably went on its way in search of a spouse for the summer.
For photos of a female Brambling click here.

Small and beautiful

Glókollur – Goldcrest – Regulus regulus

The Goldcrest is the smallest bird in Europe, weighing only six grams. It is an immigrant in Iceland and now part of the Icelandic birdlife. Since the first breeding was confirmed in 1996 it has spread over the country and breeds in spruce trees. It is an amazing little creature, – such a beautiful bird. I saw some of them today in Grímsnes, South Iceland.

Barnacle Goose breeding in Iceland

Helsingi – Barnacle goose – Branta leucopsis

The Barnacle Goose has started breeding in Iceland.  The main breeding area is in Southeast Iceland. The first known breeding of Barnacle Geese was in East-Skaftafellssýsla in 1988. Now they have become quite common in some areas such as Hornafjörður and Glacier Lagoon.  They migrate to the British Isles for the winter.

However, most of the Barnacle Geese that come by Iceland only have a short stopover on their way to and from their breeding grounds in Northeastern Greenland.

Common Wood Pigeon

Hringdúfa – Common Wood Pigeon – Columba palumbus

The Common Wood Pigeon is a breeding bird in the forests of Europe and Asia. It has breed in Iceland several times and is most often seen here in the spring but also in the autumn.

This spring a considerable number of these pigeons has been spotted and in all likelihood some will breed somewhere in Iceland this summer.
The photos are taken in Southeast Iceland, in Kálfafellstaður in Suðursveit.

Brúarfoss Waterfall

The waterfall Brúarfoss has suddenly become a popular scenic attraction in South Iceland.  To get there one has to walk for about 20 minutes from a dirt road which was almost exclusively  used by the ones staying in the summer houses in the area. Some very adept photographers took some more than amazing photos of the waterfall which went viral, – and Voilà! Click here

The path to the waterfall is a mess. In April when we went there the only suitable footwear was wellies. So before you go consider whether you want to spoil your shoes or make do with watching amazing photos on-line.

Note: This spring landowners were given a grant to construct a footpath from the main road. That means the hike will in future take about one hour.

Majestic Pied Avocets

Bjúgnefja – Pied Avocets – Recurvirostra avosetta

Pied Avocets are breeding birds in Southern and Western Europe. Last week five birds were spotted in Hornafjörður, Southeast Iceland. Three of them are still there. This is the third time the Pied Avocet is seen here. In 1954 one bird was spotted in Reyðarfjörður, East Iceland, and the second time was in 2004 when five birds were spotted also in Hornafjörður.

The Pied Avocet is a majestic wader with long almost blue legs and a long upturned bill which it swings from side to side to catch food in shallow muddy waters.

It is mostly a migratory bird that winters in Africa although some choose to skip the journey and endure the winter in Southern Spain and even the South of Britain. In 1840 the Pied Avocet had become  extinct in Britain but now it has returned and is in little danger of extinction.

Wheatear just arriving

Steindepill – Wheatear – Oenanthe oenanthe

It must be a relief to finally land on Icelandic shores after flying for thousands of miles over the ocean. This Wheatear was just about to land in South Iceland in the morning of May 5.

The Wheatears are not early migrants. They usually arrive in Iceland in May, coming from their winter grounds as far as Africa. In September they leave again for the winter.