Northern lights and winter solstice

Winter solstice, the shortest day (4 hours, 8 min.) and longest night, are upon us. Last night we enjoyed the full moon along with the Northern lights. Now the sun will start to rise higher in the sky every day, something that most of us look forward to, especially here in the high North.

Northern Lights over our garden

The Sun stays in its place in the cosmos but as the Earth revolves around its orbit and around the Sun, the seasons change. For us here in the Northern hemisphere the days become a tiny bit longer with each day, tomorrow a few seconds longer. 

Winter solstice, or Yule, is the oldest winter celebration in the world. In ancient times when the seasons and weather played an essential role in people’s lives, when we were hunters, there was a lot to celebrate. Making it through the winter was harsh and when the days started to get longer it was time for optimism.

And despite everything we feel optimistic in the Yuletide and hope that in the coming years there will be a little less poverty, less hunger, fever wars, less discrimination, better environmental management – and above all peace on Earth for all men (- all living beings and plants).

 

More Redpolls than last winter

Auðnutittlingur – Redpoll – Carduelis flammea

Redpolls are the most common birds in our garden as before. There are about twenty every day and sometimes up to seventy. Since a decline in the population in the winter 2018-19 they have been growing in numbers. They  eat the sunflower seeds from the feeding trays along with thrushes and Common Crossbills but the big old trees probably play a part in the popularity of the garden.

The Redpolls’ main feed during the coldest months is birch seeds and the seeds from spruce cones. As seeds are scarce now here in the south  and the earth covered in snow they come into gardens in search of food.

Redpolls along with Common Crossbills

Luckily more people are putting out feed for the birds nowadays so they have a better chance of surviving the coldest weathers.

Colourful Crossbills brighten up the day

Krossnefur – Common Crossbill / Red Crossbill – Loxia curvirostra

In the last two years Common Crossbills have scarcely been seen in gardens in Selfoss. The reason is probably the abundance of seeds in pines and spruce trees. They have therefore enjoyed their stay in Icelandic forests with enough food to sustain them.

This autumn they started turning up here to visit the feeding trays and in the last few days we have had up to 9 Crossbills here enjoying the Sunflower seeds that we put out for the birds.
The Crossbills are colourful and tame and a great addition to the usual guests. They brighten up our days during the darkest period of the year.

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.

Better times ahead

View to Ölfusá River from our window

It is November already and Christmas around the corner. How time flies. Our web ORNOSK.COM has not been up to par the last year or so. However, better times are ahead. We have moved the hosting to Iceland and problems with SSL certificate and Facebook sharing have been resolved. The last two years have been very special for us, to say the least. Not only COVID restrictions but also some health issues. Yes, we have been seriously reminded that we are not growing any younger. – Our resolve is to continue blogging and emphasise the essential role birds have in our ecosystems.

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.

Enjoy nature with us