Spring this year was been quite snowy and May has been wetter than we can remember, the month which is usually dry and windy. So many of our Icelandic migrators were welcomed by snow and frost and now in the last week of May you can still see birds in towns looking for shelter and food. Hopefully they will return to their summer habitat soon to prepare for nesting and breeding.
In May moorland birds claim their territories and defend and guard them if intruders venture too near. To survey their territory these landowners often perch on hills, rocks or fence poles to get a better view.
In the lowlands in South Iceland fence poles are popular for these observations and used a lot by Black-Tailed Godwits, Common Snipes and Redshanks.
This Snipe is not at all what we are used to. A genetic mutation is to blame for pigment not being deposited in the feathers, a condition called leucism. Leucistic birds usually have a light or almost white plumage, sometimes with spots but unlike albinism the bill and feet have some coloring.
Leucistic Snipes are very rare but a few occasions are known in the last few years e.g. in the Westman Islands and in Tjörnes, in the Northeast.
Last year a white Snipes was spotted south of Hveragerði and again last week in the same area . Most likely this is the same bird as last year.
These three Snipes were huddled together in a small spring water creek near Ellidavatn, outside Reykjavik, after last weekend´s massive snowfall.
The Snipe is a common breeding bird in Iceland and most migrate to West Europe in the winter time. Some decide to stay for the winter, keeping to warm creeks and spring water that does not freeze. That is the place where they are sure to find food even in the harshest of weathers.