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.
The new year greets us with some cold northerly winds and clear blue skies. We have said goodbye to the old year, which had its ups and downs – hoping that in 2018 we humans will strive to make the world better. If ever there was reason for taking better care of the environment it is now. We wish you all a prosperous year – peace to all, Kristín and Örn.
Today is the first day of summer in Iceland, – a holiday celebrated every year on the first Thursday after the 18th of April. Iceland is the only country that has a special holiday to celebrate the coming of summer. It is part of an Icelandic folklore. In olden days there were only two seasons, equally long, summer and winter. In this respect the first day of summer was actually new years day.
The folklore says that if there is frost the night before the first of summer the summer will be good. Tonight the temperatures went slightly below zero and there was frost on the ground. The sun rises at 5:30 now and the sun is shining so it seems we will be having a nice warm day. According to the folklore the summer should be a good one.
The Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration monitors driving conditions all over Iceland. In the winter time their web is our number ONE. There you can see maps of roads with info on the temperature, driving conditions and how many have been going that way in the last 10 minutes. There are also webcams on many of the most travelled roads. Special warnings are issued when very bad weather is on its way.
Their website is www.road.is
From their site:
The best way to get information about road conditions and the weather on the road system is to call 1777 (if problems use +354 522 1100, +354 522 1100). Open 8-16 in summer and 6:30-22 in winter. An English answering machine with similar road information is in phone number 1778.
In recent years it has become popular to have your wedding pictures taken in the great outdoors. Couples often travel long distances to be united in marriage and Iceland is a popular destination.
Last weekend we came upon these newlyweds at Glacier Lagoon, Southeast Iceland. I secretly caught pictures of them when no one was watching – hope they don’t mind. It was windy and the temperature just +5°C. We wish them a very happy future and warmer days than this one by the Lagoon surrounded by icebergs under the biggest glacier in Europe.
Veiðivötn, Fishing Lakes in translation, is a cluster of lakes in the southern interior. In total there are 50 lakes and ponds in the area.
Three species of fish are found in the area: trout (Salmo trutta), char (Salvelinus alpinus) and stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus).
From ancient times trout could be found in the lakes and today it is still in most of them. This trout is unique. Trout of this size and this fat can only be found in a few places today.
According to genetic research the trout in Veiðivötn lived in isolation after the end of the Ice Age. It is rare to find Ice Age trout as little evolved at this one. The trout in Þingvallavatn Lake is of the same species. This trout is very fast-growing and puberty starts later than in trout species that live in lakes in lowlands and in seagoing trout.
Char was first noticed in Snjóölduvatn Lake in 1972 and today char can be found in 11 lakes in the area. Sticklebacks can probably be found in all the lakes in the area.
Trout fishing has most likely been practiced from the beginning of settlement in Iceland. In 1965 fishing permits were first sold in the lakes, for two months every summer, from the end of June to the latter part of August. Today fishing permits are sold for the period of June 18 to August 19. In 1965-1980 the number was limited to 20 rods but today the number has been limited to 80 rods. In the last 10 years 20 – 35 thousand fish have been caught every summer.
On our birding trips we often meet like-minded people. Last year we met a group of Belgian students on a birding trip in Iceland. This was in February and the weather was quite cold. The group were searching for a Hooded Merganser on Elliðavatn, a lake just outside Reykjavik.
When we found out that they were sleeping in tents we invited them to come and stay inside the next night. No Icelanders would ever think of camping in February. The group took our offer and we cooked them some traditional Icelandic lamb soup.
One of these young birding friends was back in Iceland again last week. Joachim Bertrands from Belgium and his mother, Denise, had a week here to look at birds, whales and glaciers. The bird reserve in Flói was visited on their last day and then they came for a visit. Meeting birders from other countries is always interesting.
Conditions to observe the solar eclipse in Iceland today were very good. There were clear skies and people could be seen all over the place with special glasses so as to be able to look at the sun without damaging their eyes.
The total phase of the solar eclipse was not visible in Iceland, but it could be observed there as a partial solar eclipse. The Moon covered only a small portion of the Sun as can be seen in the photoes here.