All posts by Kristin

Volcanic erruption in Reykjanes

August 31 2021. Lava flow in Geldingadalir.

The eruption in Geldingadalir, Reykjanes Peninsula, is an extraordinary event, and the longest lived eruption in the 21 century, lasting 181 days. Although the area has been considered active, the last eruption in Reykjanes Peninsula was around 800 years ago. Geologists say that we are now entering an era of volcanic activity in this area which has several active volcanoes.

April 21 2021. Fagradalsfjall, Geldingadalir and Merardalir.

The eruption seems to be over but there are still earth quakes in the area and some smoke coming from the crater and the lava. In the middle of November the Icelandic Met Office confirmed that uplift has started again south of Fagradalsfjall and north of Keilir.

April 26 2021. The main crater starting to build up.

The eruption in Geldingadalir started on March 19 2021 after a period of earthquakes.

May 4 2021. The main crater.

At first there were several rather small fissures that spewed lava and then closed, and a new one or two opened.

June 6 2021. High activity in the crater and lava flowing to Merardalir and down to Nátthagi.

In April one crater became dominant and for six months it went from being very active to less active, with a few short dormant periods in between.

June 8 2021. Lava  field in Nátthagi.

At times the lava flowed extensively and there was concern that it would reach the road and the town of Grindavík. But these were never in any actual danger. The lava flow was never constant resulting in accumulation of layers of lava in the same areas.

July 3 2021. View from Langihryggur, lava flowing down to Nátthagi.

There was a lot of interest in this eruption and Icelanders as well as tourists came from all over the World to experience the sensation of seeing a volcanic eruption and feeling the heat from the flowing lava. Most days thousands of people hiked to the site and although it is not far from the urban area it is considered remote wilderness. Rescue teams had a busy time assisting and finding people who had lost their way or were injured e.g. broken bones. Although the eruption has ceased, the site is still a popular scenic attraction.

August 14 2021. In Geldingadalir.

Ornosk went several trips to the volcanic site and took some interesting pictures. These are a few of them from different times.

July 3 2021. In the middle of the night, view from Langihryggur.

Arctic Skuas with their offspring

Kjói – Arctic skua – Stercorarius parasiticus

This summer we came upon these Arctic Skuas in Mýrar, West Iceland, a pair with their offspring.  One of the pair was of the pale morph and the other the dark morph. Looking after their young one seemed quite a handful,  keeping them busy chasing him him. As we watched them one of the pair, the white morph, stayed in its place and the others kept coming back. Not so different with us humans.

A nice visit

Glóbrystingur – European Robin – Erithacus rubecula

The Robin is always very welcome, such a delicate bird. We have not seen many of them in recent years and sorely miss them. A few of them were seen throughout the country in October. This one stayed here for three days and is hopefully making use of feed in some to other nice people’s garden now.

Lovely Goldcrest pair

Glókollur – Goldcrest – Regulus regulus

This little Goldcrest pair was diligently combing a Siberian fir (Abies sibirica) in the garden in search of food when I managed after many attempts to catch a picture of them. These delightful little beings are difficult to photograph as they are constantly on the move.

With added speed and a high ISO I managed at last to freeze a few moments in their lives.

Nikon Z50 og Nikkor 200-500mm lense. ISO 5000, speed 1/1000 og aperture 6,3.

Great White Egret

Mjallhegri –  Great White Egret – Egretta alba / Casmerodius albus

A Great White Egret was by Markarfljót, near Seljalandsfoss, for about two weeks in the beginning of April. The Great White Egret is tall with a long neck and long feet. It has lacy, delicate plumes on its back that curl over its tail. It is a majestic bird, unliked anything we are used to.

This Great White Egret seemed to be in its ideal surroundings by the road near Markarfljót where it frequently caught small fish in the creeks and ponds that do not freeze over. It stayed calm despite the traffic and just kept on fishing as if it didn’t have a care in the world.

Great White Egrets are rare vagrants in Iceland. This is the ninth bird for Iceland and the last one spotted here in 2016. This Egret probably came from its breeding grounds in the Mediterranean where it can be found in all types of wetlands and by the shore.

In the last few days a Great White Egret has been spotted in several places in Reykjanes Peninsula. It might well be the same bird.

Icelandic migrants arriving home

Hrossagaukur – Snipe – Gallinago gallinago

At last spring is in the air and our Icelandic migrants are returning home. After an exceptionally mild winter we had some very cold and snowy weeks in March and April. Now the temperatures are rising and we look forward to frost free nights. The days are getting longer and it doesn’t get dark until after 10 o’clock.

Heiðlóa – Golden Plover – Pluvialis apricaria

Fields and farmlands have now come alive with flocks of Greylags, Pink-footed geese and Whooper Swans. The Golden Plover has also arrived much to the delight of all Icelanders. Black-Tailed Godwits are also arriving although we have news that great flocks have still to leave the shores of Holland.

Heiðagæs – Pinkfoot – Anser brachyrhynchus

Redshanks can be seen, as well as Meadow Pipits and we have noticed a lot of Snipes this spring. Only a few Whimbrels have been spotted and we have not seen or heard news of the Wheatear.

Þúfutittlingur – Meadow Pipit – Anthus pratensis

There is also little news of Pied Wagtails and we sorely miss the pair that has resided here in the garden for many years. We love spoiling them with whole meal crackers and have waited patiently for their arrival. We think we might just have heard one in the neighbourhood today.

Breeding in Highland Lakes

Himbrimi – Great Norhern Diver / Common Loon – Gavia immer

Once again we are in the Icelandic Highlands and the Great Northern Diver, also known as the Common Loon, has arrived in all its splendour to the breeding grounds. It has come from the sea around Iceland where most of the Icelandic stock spend the winter months.  Most of the highland lakes in Veiðivötn in the South Interior have one breeding pair and the lake is their territory. They make their nests on small islets or grass tufts in the water and the eggs are two.

The Great Northern Diver  is a monogamous bird and the pairs stay together during the breeding time usually for many years in a row. They raise their young ones, one to two chicks, together but do not stay together during the winter. The pair defend their territory which is usually a lake, or a bay in a lake if the lake is big enough. In the event of one of them being chased away by a rival – these are usually younger males or females, the one left establishes a relationship with the new member. Most Great Northern Divers therefore have two or more mates during their lives.

Collared Pratincole – Second sighting for Iceland

Þernutríll – Collared Pratincole – Glareola pratincola

A Collared Pratincole was recorded for Iceland for the second time today, Friday, in Garður in Reykjanes Peninsula. This bird is a very rare vagrant that was first seen on a fishing boat southeast of Iceland in June in 1997. So this is actually the first Collared Pratincole seen on land.

The Collared Pratincole is native to the warmer parts of Europe, Southwest Asia and Africa. Its winter grounds are in tropical Africa.

The Collared Pratincole is an agile flyer and its habitat is in open land where it can often be seen floating over dry fields, lush wetlands and muddy coasts. It is often seen near water in the evening where it sweeps back and forth like a big swallow snatching insects although it can also feed on the ground.

In its favourite habitat

Heiðlóa – Golden Plover – Pluvialis apricaria

The favourite habitat for the Golden Plover is the low vegetation of the Arctic tundra. With rising temperatures and more vegetation there has been a decrease in breeding birds in lowlands and an increase in the highlands. This applies to the Golden Plover, a symbol for the coming of summer in Iceland and one of our best loved birds.

This Golden Plover is in its favourite habitat in the South Interior. It has chosen a moss covered area as its territory, well camouflaged from predators. The female is probably in the nest and the male keeping watch.