Friday, 4 September 2015

Iceland - late August - some common birds

Nearly a week back now from a family holiday in Iceland and the memories are still fresh. A wish to return there sometime soon is feeling imperative.. ..but perhaps a spring or early summer visit would be better for birds.

As it had rained heavily here in Kent whilst we were away, I'm thankful of the mostly good weather we had on our Iceland visit.  So warm was it, that on our penultimate day that we had 20 Swifts overhead (a southerly wind in the days before) and there was bountiful insects for them to catch. 

Memories now are of grand waterfalls, majestic glaciated mountains and dramatic empty volcanic landscapes. With vistas of seemingly never-ending mountains, Iceland is a much larger than I thought it was going to be. The roads are mostly empty and are well maintained so driving is enjoyable with plentiful Northern birds never far away. In the evenings the landscapes were filled with the unfamiliar calls of Skuas and Divers, the distant honking of Whooper Swans and Geese and the whistle of Golden Plover.

Having said all that, if your a serious birder (heavy bins and no kids), August is not the month to go. Wildfowl which you'll see, are in all-brown eclipse plumage, most sea birds have left the cliffs and generally birds are not looking their best. What birds I photographed were mostly opportunistic dashes out the car. The list of specialist Icelandic birds I didn't see is embarrassingly high - I didn't even see a Harlequin Duck - but hey-ho they'll be there next time.

I guess the highlight bird I did see was this juvenile Gyr falcon - a first for me. Against the hillsides  hunting low over lake fringes, the falcon looked rather dull, a monotone grey. Perched against the sun it looked surprisingly dark - a mixture of greys and browns a long way from the striking arctic white Gyr falcons embedded in my mind since childhood.

Will update my text more soon, I think most the bird pics below are self explanatory. Landscape pics to process and present soon too.

Perhaps the most photogenic birds we saw were Red Throated Divers with accompanied by their near full size chicks.


Clare Gillatt said...

Wow fabulous set of images, can't wait to see the rest

Steve Pearson said...

Great shots Nick, no13 especially.