Category Archives: Birds

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Rauðkollur – Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Corthylio calendula

Once again a rare American vagrant was spotted in Stokkseyri. Now a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Only two days ago a Common Yellowthroat was spotted in the same garden. This is the  second time a Ruby-crowned Kinglet is seen alive in Iceland. And for the record, I was the one who spotted the first one, and was the only one to see it.

The first Ruby-crowned Kinglet was found dead in Heimaey, in the Westman Islands, in November 1987. The second one was alive and also in Heimaey. That was in October 1998 and I was the only one to see it.  And now the third bird and the second one alive has been spotted, the first to be seen in the mainland.

Today the little town of Stokkseyri was teaming with birdwatchers with their cameras. Many of them saw the bird and photograped it.  Very different from when I was the only one to see it in Heimaey in 1998.

Photo taken in 1998 in Heimaey, Westman Islands.

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a common breeding bird in North America. In winter it migrates to the Southern states. It is amazing for such a small bird to be able to fly all the way to Iceland, from the east coast of North America, over the Atlantic, probably around 4000 km, all the way to Iceland.

Common Yellowthroat

Grímuskríkja – Common Yellowthroat – Geothlypis trichas

A Common Yellowthroat was spotted in Stokkseyri, South Iceland, two days ago. And despite exercising great patience this is the best pictures I got.
The Common Yellowthroat is a common breeding bird in North America. This is the fifth time it  is recorded in Iceland. The first recorded spotting was in Reykjanes in September 1997.

 

Pied Flycatcher in Flói

Flekkugrípur – Pied Flycatcher – Ficedula hypoleuca

This Pied Flycatcher was spotted in Flói, north of Eyrarbakki in South Iceland today. It is a rather rare vagrant in Iceland but sightings are usually recorded here annually. In winter they migrate to West Africa from their breeding places in Western and Northern Europe. This bird has probably newly arrived from Scandinavia with easterly winds. Pied Flycatchers mostly live on insects and their chances of  surviving the winter here are rather slim. 

Guttormslundur – a lark forest grove

We always visit Guttormslundur in Hallormsstaðaskógur when we are in the area. For us Icelanders the forest is magical and one of a kind. It gives a good idea of what Icelandic Lark forests will look like in the future.

Guttormslundur is a 0,6 ha forest grove and part of Hallormsstaðaskógur which used to be the biggest woodland area in Iceland. It is situated in East Iceland in Hérað, about 20 minutes drive from Egilsstaðir, the biggest town in the East.

The trees in Guttormslundur are Russian Lark, probably from the Urals, planted in1938. That is quite early for Iceland where in general forestry didn’t start until later in the 20th century. The tallest Russian Lark trees in Hallormsstaðaskógur are now more than 25 m high and will probably reach over 30 m in the next few years.

Four Cattle Egrets in Ölfus

Kúhegri – Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis

No less than four Cattle Egrets were staying at Kröggólfsstaðir in Ölfus, South Iceland, last week. At least three of them are still there. In recent years more and more sightings are being recorded in Iceland for these beautiful birds but this is the first time so many have been spotted together.

The Cattle Egret is a rare vagrant in Iceland. It is a breeding bird in parts of South Europe and also in the southern part of North America. Their diet is mostly insects and they are most often seen in grasslands and plains among grazing lifestock such as cattle or other big grass eating animals.

A Cattle Egret was first recorded here in 1956 and then not until 2007. Their recorded number in Iceland now has with these four probably reached fifteen.

Flocks of chicks on River Ölfusá

Æðarfugl – Common Eider – Somateria mollissima

Common Eiders with their flocks of young ones are now on their way down the river towards the sea. The Eider breeds upriver in Sog. That is the farthest from the sea that the Eider goes to breed in Iceland. Most of them breed nearer to the sea.

Usually you can see a few female birds taking care of their chicks together. This is not without reason. Getting the chicks down the river is dangerous mostly because of other birds, such as seagulls, that don’t hesitate to grab the ones that stray from the flock. Hopefully they will have a safe journey.
The photos are taken by Selfoss, June 9.

Eurasian Collared-Dove in Húsavík

Tyrkjadúfa – Eurasian Collared-Dove – Streptopelia decaocto

A Eurasian Collared-Dove was spotted in Húsavík in the end of May. This is the first time it is recorded in the North of Iceland. And as such has been of interest to birders. In recent years a few Eurasian Collared-Doves have taken up residence in Iceland. A small group has been in Keflavik for several years and this spring they have been seen in e.g. Hafnarfjörður and Hornafjörður.

The Eurasian Collared-Dove is a bit smaller than the Rock Pidgeon but its cooing is similar. It is native to Europe and Asia but has been imported to other countries. It is very common all over the world and considered invasive in many countries. It was e.g. imported to the Bahamas  in the 1970s and from there spread to North America where it is now considered invasive.

The same pair year after year

Newly arrived April 28

Every spring we await the arrival of the White Wagtail in the garden. It seems that the same pair comes here year after year. And we celebrate its arrival by putting out wholemeal biscuits which are its favourite.  At least that is what we think. And every year they build their nest in the spruce and perhaps it is the same tree every year. 

Collecting material for the nest May 9.

We love having this pair of  White Wagtails in the garden. These are such lively birds to watch as they trail their long tails in undulating flight around the trees and wag their long tails and dash about in the garden.

The nest ready and the male courts the female.

It is also very interesting to see the male court the female. It points its bill upwards and zigzags about, moving up and down, and spreading its tail.

Both parents busy feeding the nestlings June 6.

Insects are its main feed and they can often be seen catching flies and spiders in flight. Both parents take part in the nesting and in feeding the hatchlings.

Busy time ahead feeding the young ones June 6.

This spring they arrived on April 22. They started making their nest the next day which took about two week. Now the eggs have hatch and the parents diligently feed the young ones. Bringing them insects, flies, larva and spiders. The eggs are usually four to six, can be up to eight, so if all have hatched the parents have their work cut out for them for the next two to three weeks.

The White Wagtail is one of the migratory birds whose arrival is looked forward to in Iceland in spring.

 

Jack Snipe in Ölfus

Dvergsnípa – Jack Snipe – Lymnocryptes minimus

A Jack Snipe was spotted two weeks ago in a warm brook in Ölfus where they have before been reported several times in winter. It is an annual visitor in Iceland in the winter time, a smaller version of the Common Snipe, and believed to have bred here although breeding has never been confirmed.

Jack Snipes are difficult to spot on the ground because they sit completely still for long periods. They can be found where the ground is unfrozen, in and near warm streams and brooks.

Redwings arrriving

Skógarþröstur – Redwing – Turdus iliacus

Twelve Redwings arrived unexpectedly on March 5 and have been in the garden since. We had only seen a single bird here on and off in the last few weeks, so perhaps these are migrators arriving early. Or Redwings moving places within Iceland? The group shows all the signs of birds newly arrived, are constantly on the move, fighting among themselves and singing in the snow. Usually Redwings arrive here in late March or beginning of April, so this is quite early for Redwings if they are migrators.

We have now had news of Redwings in the eastern part of Iceland so most likely these are our spring birds arriving, signalling the coming of spring.