Iceland has lots of birds, but not what I would call lots of variety. I think that’s typical of northern climes. I’ve already showcased the common eider, which we saw in great numbers in many places.
Catching birds on the fly – mine and theirs, sometimes – isn’t conducive to phabulous photographs. It is, however, conducive to several chances at the same species, most of them new to me. So let’s just take a quick look, shall we?
Like the red wing blackbird and the yellow-headed blackbird, here’s another bird in “The answer is in the question” group. What’s that duck with the tuft? A tufted duck. That broad white side panel and the orange eye remind me of the ring-necked duck, which I know from Phoenix.
I see swans in Myrtle Beach, but not this fellow: the whooper swan. This guy seemed to be playing in the pond adjacent to the Reykjavik City Hall. He’d drift tranquilly from one side of the pond to the other and then take off in a heart-attack-inducing flurry of wings and feet – all the way back to his starting point. And repeat.
Redwing & Juvenile Starling
We saw loads of the birds on the left: the redwing, or turdus iliacus, which seems an unnecessarily rude name. A thrush, it acts just like our robin and is about the same size. The guy on the right is a juvenile starling, which Merlin identification I accepted only after checking with my personal Bird Help Desk.
At the Herring Museum, a whole squadron of black-headed gulls put on a sideshow, coming down to scoop something out of the dark waters of the adjacent pond. A few of these look as if the bird is standing on something just under the water’s surface, but they were actually hovering.
In the spirit of just-in-time training, I first heard about the white wagtail at a shipboard lecture the night before seeing this guy near the dock after disembarking from our zodiac. There he was, hopping around, wagging his tail.
These Icelandic harbingers of spring were fast and far away. I was just able to see that the bird on the right was trying the “broken wing” ploy to attract us away from one of the many nests in the field we were walking carefully across. Luckily, the eggs sat still for their photograph.
Aww. Cute, eh?
I was calling this the Slovenian grebe until I googled it. Likewise, I was thinking I had a new species for my non-existent life list, but it turns out to be a sub-species of the horned grebe I’ve seen in Arizona. This first series shows buddy catching a fish.
Watch out! Get out! The caption depends on your point of view.
I first saw oystercatchers near Inverness in 2012. Since then, I’ve also seen them on oysterbeds along the east coast of North America. They’re striking if slightly squawky birds.
Seen in many locations, the redshanks were one of the first new birds we learned to identify. Something about those red, umm, shanks . . .
Unlike the golden plover, which relies on misdirection to protect its young, the Arctic tern relies on intimidation. Our hiking path took us along a road smack dab through the middle of a nesting site, and the terns were not impressed. They dive-bombed us repeatedly. The baby was smack dab in the middle of the road.
Because you can never have too many puffins . . . We spotted these on a whale-watching trip.