Iceland - from Vatnajökull to Stykkishólmur     p 2 of 4

Bar-tailed Godwit


The last wet bird near Höfn was Bar-tailed Godwit, which frankly is more colorful than shown in the 2nd edition of Birds of Europe.

2 June 2014

We're driving Highway 1 around Iceland in counterclockwise fashion.  Cliffs north of Höfn held a few just-arrived Black Guillemots, relatives of puffins.  They aren't yet nesting, but seemed to be thinking about it.


Black Guillemots
Common Loon n another glacier-fed lake we found Great Northern Loon, a.k.a. Great Northern Diver, a.k.a. Common Loon.  The ones in Iceland were shy and quick to duck into the water, hence the mediocre photo.
Now heading west through a valley whose damp tundra is home to Graylag Geese and European Golden Plovers.  I photographed this one from the car window. 


Golden-Plover.jpg (545997 bytes)
Tufted Duck 3 June 2014

We're spending three nights at Vogafjos Guesthouse near Lake Mývatn, the well-known "duck factory" of northern Europe.  The most common bird on the lake is Tufted Duck, seen everywhere by the thousands.

   Vogafjos's restaurant is called the cowshed.  Sure enough, half the building consists of  cow stalls, which can be viewed ffrom the dining room through large windows.  Guests who are dining can watch cows doing the same.   I guess it harkens to the Icelandic tradition of housing people and their livestock in the same building during the long, cold winters.

   Looking at the rumps of cows as they munch on hay does little for the appetite, so I'm not sure this will catch on elsewhere.




4 June 2014

Today we enjoyed a rare morning of sunshine.   It lit up these two male Eurasian Wigeons nicely.  

   Iceland sits at 66°N latitude, just below the Arctic Circle.  The sun sets about 11.30 p.m. and rises at 3 a.m.  It is never dark.  But the ducks usually come out onto the bank and roost late in the afternoon, say, 8 p.m., even with the sun still in the sky.

Eurasian Wigeons
Redwing As you  go into the high latitudes, songbird species become scarce.  This is especially true in small, remote islands like Iceland.  Lots of shorebirds, waterfowl, and seabirds, but few songbirds.

   The commost one here seems to be a thrush, the Redwing.  We also see White Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, and a starling or two.  And that's about it for songbirds.

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