Bird watching is an interesting pass time. There are not as many species to observe on an isolated island like Iceland, out in the North Atlantic Ocean, as there are on the mainland. But there are days when exotic birds are seen,some of which have come from afar. Today was such a day.
On my bird watching trip down to the shore I saw three vagrant bird species; Red-eyed Vireo from America, and Chiffchaff and Redstart from Europe. The Red-eyed Vireo and the Redstart were seen in a garden in the village Stokkseyri on the exact same spot that I saw a Red-eyed Vireo on September 30, last year. Strange coincidence that. The Red-eyed Vireo is one of the most common American vagrants in Iceland and I have seen five in the last few years.
Cattle Egerts (Bubulcus ibis) are breeding birds en the southern most parts of Europe and also in the southern states of North America. This Cattle Egret was first seen in Ölfus in South Iceland September 14.
The Cattle Egret is a very rare vagrant in Iceland and this is only the seventh time it is spotted here. It eats insects and is often seen in dry grassland and plains, preferably where there is life stock, cattle or other big grass eating animals. The Cattle Egret in Ölfus is in the company of some horses and was seen there this morning, September 22.
The Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) was an uncommon breeding bird in Iceland until the middle of the last century. The last known breeding was in 1963. Its extinction as a breeding bird is most likely due to drainage of marshlands and the arrival of the mink in Icelandic nature. A few birds are seen here in the winter time.
This bird was seen near Hveragerði in South Iceland in January 2011. There are ditches there with warm water that the bird was attracted to.
After a stormy night with some very heavy winds (20-30 m/s), snow and 0°C, this winter’s first Fieldfare has arrived in the garden. Every autumn groups of Fieldfares come from Scandinavia and overwinter in Iceland. They are annual visitors in the garden. Once in a while they breed in Iceland, mainly in the northern part of the country. Only one known breeding has been reported in Selfoss (1980).
Other birds in the garden this morning:
European Robin 1
Common Crossbills 6
Now it is the time of year when we can start looking forward to seeing the Waxwing. They sometimes come in huge flocks from Scandinavia or even all the way east from Siberia. This autumn a few have been spotted in the northern part of the country and the east.
We have apples for them in the garden and as you can see from the photoes they quite like them. –Now we just have to wait patiently and see if they will pay us a visit.
The photoes are taken in January 2011 and do not need explaining. During this time there were groups of Waxwings in Selfoss and we had 6 -10 in our garden most days and sometimes the birds fought for the apples.
In the last few days we have seen one or two Robins (Erithacus rubecula) in the garden. In the “spring” weather today one was singing by our front door. I say spring weather because the temperature has been around 10° C which is most uncommon for this part of the year.
There are a lot of Robins in Iceland now, mainly in the East and Southeast. They are vagrants and probably annual visitors but it is a long time since so many have been seen. Long time no see – it has been 20 years since we last saw one in our garden so we are very excited.
The Robin is a common garden bird in Britian but in Scandinavia they are shy woodland birds. The Robins that are visiting Iceland now are probably originated from Scandinavia.
The Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) used to be a very rare vagrant in Iceland but in recent years they have been seen more often. The birds that come to Iceland probably come from Great Britain or Ireland where their numbers have been increasing in the last 20 years.
This guy was taking a stroll by the River Ölfusá in October. It is the first Little Egret that I see this year and probably the second bird to be seen in Iceland this year.