Category Archives: Garden

Birds at Christmas

Silkitoppa – Bohemian Waxwing – Bombycilla garrulus

The garden has been teeming with birds this Christmas. Some very rare visitors that we don’t see every year. Keeping them fed has been one of the Christmas chores and a happy one.

Three Bohemian Waxwings have decorated the garden with their stay. Their beautiful colours are hard to match.

Auðnutittlingur – Redpoll – Carduelis flammea

Redpolls stay with us most of the year and in winter they are never far away. There have been at least 20 – 25 every day.

Gráþröstur – Fieldfare – Turdus pilaris

Fieldfares very seldom grant us the favour of a visit at Christmas. Now we have had four of them most days. They are quite dominating and find it hard to share food with the others.

Krossnefur – Common Crossbill / Red Crossbill – Loxia curvirostra

The Crossbills are peaceful birds and their lovely colours make them stand out now when everything is covered in snow. Five of them have come here to feed daily and mingle with the other visitors.

Bjargdúfa – Rock dove – Columba livia

Now Rock Doves are becoming more and more common here in the garden and they make good use of the sunflower seeds that we put out. They are here in the dozens and we are sad to admit that we sometimes wish they would go somewhere else once in a while.

Other birds in the garden are Redwings, Blackbirds, Snow Buntings, Starlings and one very Christmassy Robin.

Bees and butterflies

Red Admiral (aðmírálsfiðrildi)

Today was a beautiful summer day with Bumblebees and Red Admirals in the garden. In recent years studies have reported a decline in insect populations. Entire species have gone extinct but in most cases this decline involves reductions in abundance. Therefore it is a great joy to have such a lot of bumblebees in the garden along with foreign visitors such as the Red Admiral.

Harsh welcome for our summer birds

Skógarþröstur – Redwing – Turdus iliacus

Redwings have a special place in the hearts of Icelanders. They  signal the usually long awaited coming of spring. Huge flocks of them arrived here April 5 and 6 from their winter grounds in Britain and Western Europe. They were, however, not welcomed with spring weather, but with a full-blown blizzard, one of the worst this winter.

Outside our window on April 5

The weather was as bad as it can get, with snow blowing into huge banks, the shivering birds covered in snow and the house trembling from the storm. It is likely that some if them have not survived this harsh welcome.

This sunny morning, in the snow and frost, there are around 30 singing Redwings in the garden, quarrelling over the feed trays – the garden resounding with their song.

Male Brambling

Fjallafinka – Brambling – Fringilla montifringilla

A lone Brambling has been here in the garden all winter long. This male comes here daily and visits the feeding trays. He is very shy and not eager to be photographed. The males are different from the females, see:

When this male Brambling turned up in the autumn he seemed familiar with surroundings so this could be the one that was spotted singing in and around Selfoss last summer.

Bramblings are annual guests in Iceland. They come from Scandinavia but do not breed here regularly. Despite a difficult winter, with lots of snow and countless blizzards, this hardy bird has survived.

Sparkling snow flakes

Snjótittlingur – Snow Bunting – Plectrophenax nivalis

Snow Buntings are like sparkling snow flakes and observing huge flocks of them in flight is a beautiful sight. They only appear in towns in the coldest of weathers when snow makes it impossible for them to find food.  Sometimes they can be counted in the hundreds.

For Icelanders the Snow Bunting, in Icelandic “snjótittlingur” (snjór=snow) is a winter bird. In the summer it is also a symbolic bird, representing the summer time.  Then it is referred to by a different name “Sólskríkja” (sól=sun). Its plumage changes with the seasons, see in summer time:

The Snow Bunting is a high Arctic bird that breeds as far as the northernmost regions of Greenland and Canada. It is common in Iceland where it lives the whole year round although in many countries it is a passerine. It used to be a very common breeding bird in the highlands but with rising temperatures the Icelandic stock is decreasing.

Canadian birders

By Ölfusá River

This wonderful group of Canadian birdwatchers visited us yesterday. They managed to add a new species to their list, a Rosefinch. Seeing Common Crossbills and Redpolls so close was also of interest. – We can almost say that our garden  is becoming a landmark for birders.

Garden birds today

Blackbird (svartþröstur) and Starling (stari)

Today there is a blizzard and a lot of birds in the garden. It is their shelter from the storm, an oasis with food and shelter. The photos are from today.

Brambling – Fjallafinka

Today’s Bird List

  • Merlin (smyrill) 1
  • European Robin (glóbrystingur) 1
  • Blackbird (svartþröstur) 16
  • Redwing (skógarþröstur) 3
  • Raven (hrafn) 1
  • Starling (stari) 40
  • Brambling (fjallafinka) 12
  • Redpoll (auðnutittlingur) 80
  • Common Crossbill (krossnefur) 7
  • Snow Bunting (snjótittlingur) 3

Follow our weekly bird count for 2018 on ORNOSK:

Common Crossbill / Red Crossbill  – Krossnefur
The feeding tray

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.

Autumn in the garden

It is autumn and winter is almost upon us. Last night temperatures dropped to around zero, 0° C. There are still groups of Starlings here, and Redwings and Blackbirds eating berries. Most of the Redwings will be flying South soon.

Our new visitors this autumn, the Siskins, are migrants but whether they stay for the winter remains to be seen. There are still eight of them here. Once winter comes and the seeds from trees and plants become scarce Redpolls, Crossbills and Siskins will be dependant on the feed put out for them.