Iceland - from Vatnaj÷kull to Stykkishˇlmur     p 4 of 4

Northern Fulmar


7 June 2014

Seabirds, including this Northern Fulmar, are arriving to nest on Flatey and surrounding islands.  As it soars along the cliff edge the fulmar looks like a gull.  But in fact it is a member of a different family, the tubenoses, whose obvious feature is the nasal tubes on its multi-part beak.


Atlantic Puffins are also here, checking out nesting tunnels in the turf on cliff tops.  Meanwhile, they pass the time playing a game called "Puffin Carousel."  Around they go, although not always in the same direction. 

Four puffins
   Eider with chicks    There are no roads on Flatey, but walking trails lead to good spots for photography, such as a fresh-water pond where a Common Eider mom was caring for four chicks.

   Formerly, the Icelanders would, after the chicks fledged, collect the breast feathers which the eider used to line her nest.  The feathers, or down, were of course used in eiderdown pillows, jackets, and the like. 


    Another seabird, Black-legged Kittiwake, drops by for a sip of fresh water.  Kittiwakes, the most common gull here, nest by the thousands on cliffs.   Their name comes from the call they make.

    We're staying at Hotel Flatey, the best and only hotel on the island.  It maintains the high standards we've found at all Icelandic hotels.

Black-legged Kittiwake  
Ringed Plover   

Ringed Plover is usually found running around on the ground or at the shore.  This one posed nicely on a rock outcropping near a sheep meadow. 


Snow Bunting is one of the few songbirds on Flatey.  We heard the male's cheerful ditty most of the day.  For the photographer, though, it had the annoying habit of flying up to a rooftop and singing away.  This one posed along the edge of the cliff.  Snow Bunting


RT Diver  

8 June 2014

Yesterday we returned from Flatey and drove down past Reykjavik to the town of Selfoss.  Nearby is the Floi Nature Reserve, which Ian Newton told us is a sure bet for Red-throated Diver, a.k.a. Red-throated Loon.  It proves to be the case.

   Nearly every pond on the preserve has a pair of loons and their chicks.  One parent stands guard while the other goes fishing in the nearby sea.  When it returns with its catch, the chicks are eager to enjoy the feast. 

   The loon parents cannot abandon their young, who are not yet able to fly.  So proper etiquette requires we slowly wade through the marsh toward the pond; then, crawl further on to get the shot.

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