Tag Archives: Hrossagaukur

Unusual spring weather

Hrossagaukur – Snipe – Gallinago gallinago in the snow.

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.

Whooper Swans by their territory waiting for the snow to melt. In Flói, South Iceland.
In the end of April in our garden

Birds on poles

Jaðrakan – Black-Tailed Godwit – Limosa limosa

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.

Stelkur – Redshank – Tringa totanus

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.

Hrossagaukur – Snipe – Gallinago gallinago

Leucistic Snipe

Hrossagaukur – Snipe – Gallinago gallinago

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.

Just an ordinary Snipe

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.

Wintering Snipes

Hrossagaukur – Snipe – Gallinago gallinago

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.

A Snipe in the garden

Hrossagaukur – Snipe – Galinago gallinago

A lot of Snipes have been seen in heathlands and marshlands around Selfoss in the last few days. They have also been seen looking for worms in gardens and one came into ours. As with other moorland birds it is unusual for them to be seen in gardens in urban areas as has been the case in recent days.


Today the weather is better although the nights are still cold with temperatures below zero. The photos were taken yesterday and today in my garden and in the neighbourhood.


Common Snipe

The Common Snipe is a migratory bird in Iceland although a few stay behind and endure winter. These birds keep to warm springs and ditches. Early in April the migrators will be arriving in Iceland.

The Common Snipe is known for the special sound it makes on flight with its tail feathers.

Hrossagaukur – Common Snipe – Galinago gallinago

It lives in marshes, stream banks, bogs, wet meadows, and even the Arctic tundra, preferring lush vegetation for cover. The common snipe’s habitat ranges from North America, South America, Europe, Eurasia, and Africa.