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Saturday, 28 June 2014

Iceland,day 4 dedicated to Phalaropes.

I`m going to dedicate this particular blog to the Red Necked Phalarope,when I originally decided to choose Iceland as my venue,the Phalarope was very much the bird that drew me to the island.We have a few pairs that breed in northern Scotland, but they are a really abundant bird out here!I was looking forward to seeing them in summer breeding plummage as I`d only ever seen the odd one looking pretty drab on migration.It wasn`t until I reached the shores of Lake Myvatan that I could really study the birds at close range.They were unfazed by my presence and gave me many opportunities to gain images.My first 3 days in Iceland produced only half a dozen birds,but they had only just began to arrive from southern climates.Some of these birds had in the past been radio tagged and had been proven to go as far down as Argentina,south america!One male bird geo tagged in Fetlar scotland was found to have made the 16000 mile round trip,this jourey has never before been recorded by a british breeding bird,its made even more astonishing that they migrate westwards against the prevailing weatherin virtually the opposite direction to all other migrants that leave the UK!
The male phalarope is the one that does all the incubating,whilst the brightly coloured females look for another mate!

Just a half metre away from me,it was great watching them pick the many insects off the water,right under my nose!

These 4 birds were congregating around  a small inlet where the flow of the river was narrowed right down,thus bringing in regular amounts of flies for them to pick off!

A nice male far from dull!

Mating was taking over all around the lake after having returned from their wintering quarters!

Needle billed and slender necked,they were very agile on the water,often spinning and dabbling on the same spot!

Very nice when you can play with some nice light!

Even though drab,still a stonking bird to watch!

Smaller than a starling,such a strong swimmer for a wader!

Some nice colours thrown up by the bankside vegitation adds to the composition!

I believe between 30 to 50,00 pairs breed in Iceland!

Not in the least bit bothered by my presence,they carried on their daily rituals regardless.

Lake Myvatan is a real stronghold for the Phalaropes but thats hardly surprising really as the name translates as midge lake,there are literally millions swarming all over but unbelievably they dont bite but irritate!

I make no apologies for showing so many images of the one species,but believe you me they are absolutely enthralling!I hope you enjoyed looking through these shots and more from Iceland wll be conveyed in my next blog shortly,catch up with you soon and thanks for dropping by!!!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Iceland (day 3)

The next day,I was heading across the peninsular in the direction of Stykissholmur, another small fishing port again on the north east coast.Leaving the coast I cut through more volcanic mountain passes,snow was more evident at this altitude and to be honest wildlife was pretty thin on the ground.The ever present Whooper swan was seen in groups of 1 to 10,with the Raven thrown in for good measure!The pictures below are a selection of images that I took later in the day,the Snow bunting came completely out of the blue really, as it was a bird that I`d sort of forgotten about,what a treat I had when this male and female landed close by!Ptarmargin was also a bird high on my hitlist,I`d never encountered these birds before,even back home but they ended up being quite common out here,though they still needed a cautious approach!The Slavonian Grebe really are common out in Iceland,but for whatever reason I struggled with them,have to save them for my next trip!
Ptarmigan still in winter plummage,brilliant!
Even better when they pose like this for you!!
It didn`t pose for lon though!!
Ringed plover were plentiful,this bird had a nest with 4 eggs near by!
Slavonian or Horned grebe,common out here but not for me!
It never really gets dark at this time of year as this picture proves,it was taken at 11.30pm,just makes you wonder how the wildlife adapts to the long daylight hrs,certainly plenty of food about for them to feed on,bet its non stop when they have young to feed!So that was another interesting and long day I had in this great place,I was more or less in the middle of my holiday now and I wondered what else lay in store for me.I`ll tell you in my next blog and thanks again for looking in!!!!

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Iceland (day 2)

With a good nights rest under my belt,I was up and away for 4.30 heading North east again for the small fishing town of Borganes.It was a pleasent drive through the terrain,all the time keeping my eyes open for arctic fox which should be about at this early time.They are still in their winter coat too so would be relatively easy to pick out amongst the backdrop of the open fields,search as I may, it wasn`t to be but there was plenty of birds to keep me occupied.With the roads being free from traffic, it was easy just to stop there and then, if a photographic opportunity arose.Plenty of birds were around calling and displaying,none moreso than the Whimbrel,whose constant trilling was never far away.Up to 700,000 birds head back here from Gambia every year to breed,3/4 of the worlds population in fact,with according to data,60 pairs per sq km.Their main predator is the raven, who were constantly trying to rob their eggs.Slightly smaller than the curlew with a shorter bill and black headstripe,they were never far away. On reaching Borgarnes,I headed for the small harbour, were I found half a dozen Black Guillemot.They were constantly diving looking for food and their bright red legs contrasted greatly against their dark plummage.Quite a common bird around the coasts of Iceland, they showed quite close and I obtained a few shots for my collection.Coming away from the town, I left the main tarmac road and took some of the gravel roads that abound,these lead you into the valleys and more rural areas.Sometimes I`d drive for an hour or so and not see another soul,peace and tranquility at its best,and all set against a backdrop of volcanoes and snow clad mountains.Many times I`d pull over and just be in awe of the scenery.Black tailed Godwits,Golden Plover,Snipe and Redshank all in breeding plummage, were the main birds in these parts and on a short walk, I flushed a Golden plover off its nest which had 2 eggs!As I moved away she quickly returned to incubate.I always had my eyes peeled skywards, looking for Gyr falcon,any rocky valleys and cliff faces I scanned thoroughly in the hope of seeing one,again I was unsuccessful, but I knew it was only a matter of time before one came into the viewfinder!The North area was a noted place for these raptors and I was informed that good numbers breed up there! A 1/3 bigger than our Peregrine falcon and with some birds being nearly white,it was never far from my thoughts! The weather was being kind to me on my second day, with long spells of sunshine and blue skies,I just couldn`t think of a better place that I`d rather be with the camera.The birdlife of the island was amazing,throw in some stunning scenery and long hrs of daylight,it was a photographers dream.So pressig on North,I`ll tell you all about my sightings and experiences in my next blog on Iceland!Thanks for taking the time to visit and I hope you enjoy some of the shots that I managed to capture!!!!
Deserted gravel roads,care must be taken when driving on these at all times.
A familliar and common bird,but I never tired of their pipeing call!
Icelandic Black tailed godwit.Iv`e usually only seen these in their hundreds at Marshside and Leighton moss.

Stunning in their summer plummage!

Whimbrel.We get good numbers of these stopping off in Lancashire en route to Iceland!
Black Guillemot...a first for me!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Iceland. Land of fire and water!

Flying over Rykjavik

I usually manage a weeks holiday abroad at this time of year with the camera and having previously been south, to Portugal and Cyprus,I decided this time to head North to slightly colder climates and thus choose Iceland as my destination.I`d researched the country beforehand and knew that it would offer good photographic opportunities regarding the local bird population.Although ther
e are not huge numbers of different species there,85 in fact,it was the abundance of them that drew me initially to the island!I didn`t really have a plan for my sortie but would pick up the small vw caddy campervan from nr the airport and then drive in a north easterly direction,following the coastline, with my final destination being lake Myvatyn some 450 km north. On arrival the weather was good with long clear sunny spells and a temp of between 9 and 10 degrees,this was excellent as the weather here is very changeable and could very easily have been driving rain with snow flurries on the higher ground.Snow was still very evident on the mountain tops as the plane approached the airport. Having picked up the camper van from nearby,I headed for the local netto and obtained provisions for the week.Iceland is noted for being extremely expensive,as regards dining out, so I made sure I was well prepared.A tank full of diesel in the car and I was on my way north, skirting Reykjavik on route 1.The scenery changed dramatically on leaving the capital and I was soon amongst fields and meadows heading for the Snaefellsnes peninnsular, just how I imagined it.The population of Iceland is roughly 320,000 people with 2/3 living in the capital,so with it being roughly the size of England, there was plenty of driving and hardly any traffic on the roads!One of the first of the many lakes that I came to held a pair of Red throated divers,I duly pulled over and spent a great half hour taking a few shots of the divers.

What a great bird to start my holiday,it was a real pleasure being in their company and not another person or car in sight!I could hardly drag myself away but needed to press on to locate a campsite.It had been an extremely long and tiring day so I decided to turn in early tonight and make a good early start the following day.More of my time in Iceland will follow in my next blog,so again thanks for dropping by and catch up soon!!!!