All posts by Örn Óskarsson

The midnight sun

It is summer solstice, the shortest night of the year and the longest day of the year.  Icelandic summer nights are ideal for outings and camping. No darkness makes everything easier especially for those who are afraid of the dark.

There is little that beats the beauty of the midnight sun. In the middle of summer the sun  sets after midnight and is up again before three in the night so there is more or less daylight  also at nighttime.

White-winged Tern

Tígulþerna – White-winged Tern – Chlidonias leucopterus

The White-winged Tern is a vagrant in Iceland and has been seen here 15 times. It was now spotted in Nesjar in Miðnes, Reykjanes peninsula, last week.

Their habitat is in southeast Europe all the way to central Asia. They breed in  freshwater marshes. They migrate to Africa , Southern Asia and Australia for the winter.
This is bird number 217 on my Iceland birdlist.

Peaceful Crossbills

Krossnefur – Common Crossbill / Red Crossbill – Loxia curvirostra

Common Crossbills flock to our garden, both young and old. They have must have got news about the feed that the nice man in Fagurgerði  puts out all year round now. Fagurgerði is actually the old name of our house and later when more houses were built it became the name of the street.

Several adults, both male and female, with chicks visit the feeders and there is a lot of coming and going. They seem such peaceful birds and share the sunflower seeds in blissful harmony with the Redpolls.

In the last ten days there have been up to 18 Crossbills at a time. First there were 3 – 4, a dad with 3 chicks and then their numbers grew as news spread of the full feeders here.

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.