The meadows have come alive with birds. Spring is here and most of our Icelandic migrants have arrived. The bird reserve in Flói is a good place to watch them and observe their behaviour. Meadow Pipits, Iceland’s most common passerine birds, are prominent here with their short tsi tsi song and erratic flight.
The Black-tailed Godwit is a common breeding bird in the lowlands around most of Iceland. It lays its egg in grown wetlands so Flói Reservation is an ideal breeding place for it.
The Common Snipe has also arrived as many have noticed. It is difficult not to notice their arial dives and the loud drum like sound they make by vibrating their tail feathers.
The Red Shank also does not go unnoticed, it is such a loud bird. It breeds in all kinds of wetland and for them Flói Reserve has it all.
Now is the time for the Merlin to prepare for the flight to its winter grounds in the UK. It is also migration time for the smaller birds and the Merlin is hunting for food to save up energy for the journey. They can now be seen hunting in heaths and marshlands.
The Merlin is the most common predatory bird in Iceland. It is mostly a migrator with only a small part of the stock remaining here during winter.
The Meadow Pipit is probably the most important food source but all small birds are also on the menu e.g. Snow Buntings, Redwings, Starlings and even birds as big as the Golden Plover.
There are still some summer birds around although most have migrated to warmer climates. The weather has been exceptionally good, no harsh autumn winds yet and the temperature a bit higher than the average. No need to rush when life is so good.
These are two of the guests that still honour us with their presence.
Meadow Pipits have now gathered in groups and roam the countrysides in search of food. They are eagerly preparing for the long journey to their winter grounds in South Europe and Africa. Most of them will leave in the coming week when flying conditions over the Atlantic are favourable. The groups are exceptionally big now which indicates that breeding was very successful this summer.
In the South Interior last week Meadow Pipits were by the thousands, bigger groups than we have seen before. They were eating berries, larva and spiders, all of which seemed in abundance. This Meadow Pipit was in Veiðivötn, South Iceland.
In the last few days flocks of small birds, such as Meadow Pipits, Wheatears and Wagtails, have flown off in a southerly direction. Most of them are on their way to Africa or Southern Europe. These species do not stay in Iceland during winter. They are insect eaters and have no other choice than to head south to a warmer climate to survive. In the best of circumstances the estimated flight time to the nearest European countries is at least 24 hours. Many to do not reach their destination and perish on the way.
These photoes were taken at the beach by Eyrarbakki, South Iceland, where huge flocks could be seen, waiting for favourable winds to take them on their way.
Meadow Pipits visit the garden both in spring and autumn. Now we have had up to four at the same time which is unusual. In the last few days two of them have claimed territory here, one south of the house and the other north of the house. They chase all others of their kind away and are eating the leftovers from this winter, sunflower seeds, something we have not seen before. They will probably move to their natural habitat in the meadows as soon as the weather gets milder.
Meadow Pipits (Anthus pratensis) are now arriving in Iceland with the southeast winds. Yesterday and today they were seen flying over Selfoss. The Meadow Pipit is the most common passerine bird in Iceland, with a breeding population estimated 500,000 – 1,000,000 pairs. They are common breeding birds all over the country, also in the interior where there is some vegetation. The Meadow Pipit’s winter grounds are in Southwest Europe and in Morocco.