Category Archives: Birds

A first for Iceland

Bláskotta – Red-flanked Bluetail – Tarsiger cyanurus (juv)

This Red-flanked Bluetail is a first for Iceland! Two birds were spotted last week. These beautiful birds are supposed to fly south to warmer climates in winter. Their summer habitat is in Northern Asia and Northeast Europe, as far as Finland. They winter in Southeast Asia.

The Red-flanked Bluetail has been a rare vagrant in Western Europe but has lately been spotted more often, mostly in Great Britain. This one was obviously blown off course and ended up in Southeast Iceland, in the fishing village of Höfn in Hornafjörður.

ORNOSK’s picture of the Red-flanked Bluetail appeared in Iceland’s leading newspaper:  http://www.mbl.is/frettir/innlent/2017/10/24/flaekingsfugla_hrekur_til_islands/

The little housekeeper

Músarrindill – Wren – Troglodytes troglodytes

The Wren is very busy these days catching winter moths. It seems to be a great part of its diet at this time of year. This clever little bird is very diligent and picks them off the walls and in crevices where they might hide.

One has claimed our house as his own private property, driving others away with force, and cleaning the moths off the walls like a perfect little housekeeper.

There are more  Wrens this autumn than often before so this summer seems to have been a prosperous one.

Common American vagrant

Græningi – Red-eyed Vireo – Vireo olivaceus

The Red-eyed Vireo is an American vagrant and a near annual in Iceland. This autumn two have been spotted in Iceland, one in Stokkseyri and the other near the neighbouring village Eyrarbakki, in Floi Reserve.

This is the third year in a row that a Red-eyed Vireo is spotted in the same garden in Stokkseyri – nice coincident that. The birds that fly off course, way over the North Atlantic, will not survive the winter in Iceland. Their winter habitat is in warmer climates, in lowland forests in South America.

Getting ready for winter

Rjúpa – Ptarmigan – Lagopus mutus

The Ptarmigan is getting ready for winter. Its plumage is changing from the earthen colours of its summer habitat to the white of the winter snows.

It seems there are more Ptarmigans now than often before. The summer was a good one for breeding and in the forests that we frequent we see groups of them. These are probably parents with their grown young ones from early summer but the chicks are often 10-12 in one breeding.

Chittering garden birds

Auðnutittlingur – Redpoll – Carduelis flammea

It has been exceptionally lively in the garden for the last few days. It has been raining with some heavy winds which makes the garden a good place to find food and shelter in.

Músarrindill – Wren – Troclidades troclidafdes

There have been the usual Redpolls, up to 25 of them, seven Blackbirds, lots of Redwings and Starlings, two Goldcrests and a Wren. Then there are the Crossbills that have taken a liking to our garden and there were at least nine of them here this morning. But the most unusual ones here are the Siskins. Their numbers have grown from last week and now there are at least 12 of them.

Glókollur – Goldcrest – Regulus regulus

We wake up in the morning with the Siskins chittering outside our bedroom window. It is such a lovely start  to the day.

Barrfinka – Siskin – Carduelis spinus

A welcome visitor

Bjarthegri – Little Egret – Egretta garzetta

Once again we are so fortunate to be visited by this beautiful creature, the Little Egret. It has been spotted around Selfoss in the last ten days. In its stark white plumage it stand out among most other Icelandic birds.

In recent years the Little Egret has become an annual vagrant in Iceland and has been seen around Selfoss both spring and autumn.  These birds probably come from Great Britain or Ireland where the population has been increasing for the last 20 years.

Visiting Siskins

Barrfinka – Siskin – Carduelis spinus

The Siskin is a favoured guest in our garden. It is rather rare here although a frequent vagrant in Iceland. In the last few years they have come here in the spring and autumn, usually one or two birds, staying only for a few days. The Siskin may have started breeding regularly in the fast growing Icelandic forests but records are limited.

The Siskin stands out among the Redpolls on our feeders in their beautiful yellow and grey colours. The male is more prominent as the yellow colours contrast with the black.

Two Siskins with Redpolls and a Crossbill

For a week now three have been visiting. Whether they plan to stay for the winter remains to be seen but we make the most of their stay and watch them as they mingle with Redpolls and Crossbills. Their stay will most likely be temporary, our garden only a stopover before they leave for warmer climates.

Adult colours appearing

Krossnefur – Common Crossbill – Loxia curvirostra (young male)

Through the summer we have put out feed for the birds, sunflower seed. In the end of May a Common Crossbill appeared with a few chicks, a male with its offsprings. In June the number of chicks multiplied and for a time there were two males with no less than sixteen baby chicks on the feeding tray.

Later the males disappeared leaving the chicks here on their own. They have been here the whole summer, often five to six of them but now they are eleven.

The chicks are becoming more mature and their plumage is taking on the colours of the adults. Reed and yellow orange feathers are appearing. The youngest, however, still hold on to their grey tones.