In the last few days flocks of small birds, such as Meadow Pipits, Wheatears and Wagtails, have flown off in a southerly direction. Most of them are on their way to Africa or Southern Europe. These species do not stay in Iceland during winter. They are insect eaters and have no other choice than to head south to a warmer climate to survive. In the best of circumstances the estimated flight time to the nearest European countries is at least 24 hours. Many to do not reach their destination and perish on the way.
These photoes were taken at the beach by Eyrarbakki, South Iceland, where huge flocks could be seen, waiting for favourable winds to take them on their way.
We were looking for a Gyrfalcon, which we did not find, when we came across our first Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe) this spring. There were a few at the roots of Mount Ingólfsfjall, most of them males. Their winter grounds are in West Africa. They make their nests in rocks, lava and heathland, mostly in lowlands but also in highlands. Greenlandic Wheatears stopover in Iceland in spring and autumn on their way to their breeding grounds in Greenland. The breeding population here counts around 50,000 pairs.
The Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) is a common breeding bird in Iceland. They are migratory birds with winter grounds in West Africa.
Most Wheatears come to Iceland in May and they are usually flown to their wintergrounds in September. They often visit the garden in the autumn before their departure for Africa. The photoes are taken in Selfoss.