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Monday, 7 July 2014

Iceland day 5 (Ducks)

So after filling my boots with the Red Necked Phalaropes,there were still plenty more birds to keep me interested, in my time around the Myvatn area!One of the finest salmon and trout rivers in the whole of Iceland runs out from the lake here, and that is the River Laxa,the fishing season would start in a few weeks time ,so the nature was relatively undisturbed.The Laxa is a wide fast flowing river with many runs and riffles,ideally suited for one of Icelands endemic species the Harlequin duck,this bird just loves the bubbling,rough fast water and plenty were visible up and down the length of the river!
This small buyont sea duck is continually at home in the rough turbulent waters,even the rapids and wateralls,its yearly cycle is comparable to that of the salmon, with the same movments into the fjords and bays,and the same lingering around river mouths, with slow upstream penetration.Even nesting areas on the rivers frequently coincide with the salmon spawning grounds!When feeding it explores the gravel stream beds at depths up to 1-2 metres against the strong flow!

The duck takes its name from Harlequin,which means a colourfully dressed charachter.It also goes by the name of Rock duck,Mountain duck,painted duck and Glacier duck all of which seem appropriate!They were quite numerous around the Rivers and lakes at this time of year,many were pairing up getting ready to breed!

A few squabbles and disputes were taking place all along the river, as males competed for the attention of the females!

A few pair of common scaup were usually to be seen in the vicinity, but they weren`t as frequent as the Harlequin!

Long Tailed ducks seemed to be about in good numbers too,the males look their best in the winter when believe it or not, they are in their breeding plummage.

Also known as `old squaw` these ducks spend most of their time under water and can dive to depths of 60 metres(200 ft)

Alot of these se duck overwinter around the coasts of Britain!

Obviously named because of their long tail streamers!

Barrows Goldeneye,another endaemic bird to Iceland,lots of these about on the lakes and rivers!
Can be mistaken for Goldeneye but a few distinguishing features can be seen,mainly the white loral crescent shape reaches above the eye,instead of the familiar round white blob.The head has a lovely purple sheen to it, unlike the green of the Goldeneye.
Most water bodies had a few flocks of the Barrows oldeneye in residence!

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful post on the colourful ducks in the wilds of the Icelandic tundra,waiting for more posts Paul.