All posts by Örn Óskarsson

Still here

Glóbrystingur – European Robin – Erithacus rubecula

Since autumn this Robin has been a daily guest in the garden.  Our Robin roams the neighbourhood but always turns up again. We have news of another one just over the river. Hopefully they are a male and a female that will pair up and breed here in the spring.

The Robin is a rather common vagrant in Iceland and is known to have breed here.

Frost formations

Frost Boils, ca. one foot in diameter, South Iceland.

Circles or “Frost Boils” are formed when wet surfaces and mud freezes. This happens where there is no vegetation to bind the soil. The soil expands and pushes up the gravel that is in the way, the bigger stones moving outwards to the sides creating a circle. These rings are about one foot in diameter but in the highlands where there is permafrost they can become several meters.

It’s 2018

On our annual winter walk on New Year’s Day

The new year greets us with some cold northerly winds and clear blue skies. We have said goodbye to the old year, which had its ups and downs – hoping that in 2018 we humans will strive to make the world better. If ever there was reason for taking better care of the environment it is now.  We wish you all a prosperous year – peace to all, Kristín and Örn.

In the snow covered landscape

Rjúpa – Ptarmigan – Lagopus mutus

The Ptarmigan blends well into the snow covered landscape in its winter plumage.  Predators such as foxes, falcons and the human can not easily spot it in the winter twilight. This Ptarmigan has survived the hunting season which is limited to a few long weekends in October and November.  Ptarmigan used to be a popular Christmas dinner in Iceland but as the stock has been decreasing in numbers and the hunting season limited, fewer and fewer families chose to eat this beautiful bird. That is something to be thankful for.

Winter Solstice

Today, December 21, is the northern winter solstice. It is when the sun’s elevation in the sky is at its lowest, i.e. the shortest day of the year and the longest night. Here in Selfoss  sunrise  was at 11:15 and sunset at 15:29 and the sun is just 2.7° over the horizon at midday.

After tomorrow the days will start to get longer, something almost everyone looks forward to. Happy Solstice 🙂

Chicks in winter

Krossnefur – Common Crossbill / Red Crossbill – Loxia curvirostra (pair)

There are a lot of Common Crossbills in spruce and pine forests now but these settlers seem to thrive well in Iceland and have become part of the Icelandic fauna.

Young Common Crossbill chick in December

Cones are in abundance and the Crossbills are therefore well fed. They have been breeding since autumn and even now in December we have seen young chicks, although February is the month you would expect them to start breeding.

Common Crossbills and Redpolls on a feeder

Chicks from the autumn are now feeding on their own but we still get them here in the garden where they can indulge themselves on sunflower seeds. The photos are from  last week in Grímsnes, South Iceland.

American White-winged Crossbill – a first for Iceland

Víxlnefur – White-winged Crossbill /Two-barred Crossbill- Loxia leucoptera (Loxia leucoptera leucoptera)

A rare North American vagrant has been the number one diversion for Icelandic birders in the past week. This is the second time that a White-winged Crossbill is spotted here but the first time that a bird of Western Palearctic origin is recorded, the North American subspecies. It was first seen in a small forest clearing called Sólbrekka, near the Blue Lagoon in Reykjanes Peninsula. It is still there and has been since November 8. It is now with a group of Common Crossbills and seems delighted in their company. The females especially seem to have taken a liking to this brightly coloured foreigner.

The American White-winged Crossbill is a breeding bird in the conifer forests of North America and well adapted to severe frosts. However, the White-winged Crossbill that was first spotted here in 2009 in East Iceland was of North Scandinavian/Siberian origin.

Quietly sneaking about

Glóbrystingur – European Robin – Erithacus rubecula

The European Robin has been an annual autumn guest in our garden for the last four years but before that we did not see one here for more than 15 years. From the beginning of November a Robin has visited us. It usually appears when there are few other birds around, quietly sneaking about in the undergrowth and visiting the feeders.

Usually one Robin claims  the garden as its territory and drives other Robins away.

A number of European Robins were spotted around the country after a Southeast storm in October. They are annual vagrants in Iceland and are known to have bred here.