Iceland - from Vatnajökull to Stykkishólmur     p 1 of 4

 

30 May 2014

Some helpful tips for the nature photographer visiting Iceland:
-   Upon arrival, set your camera's White Balance to 'Cloudy.'
-   Increase your ISO setting to 800 or better yet, 1000.
-   If you hire a rental car, make certain the windshield wiper blades are nearly new and functioning properly.
   In other words, it could be gloomy and rainy for days on end.  You never know.

   Finally, don't miss Jökulsárlón, a lagoon on the east coast.  Chunks of blue ice break off from the Breidamerkurjökull glacier and eventually float from the lagoon out to sea.  Then the tide washes them  up onto a black lava beach.   Even on stormy days it has a surreal appearance.

 

 

 

 

 

glacier-pieces-2-jpg.jpg (393089 bytes)

Common Eider male  

 

 

 

Floating in the glacier-melt waters of the channel connecting the lagoon to the ocean were Common Eiders.  These sea ducks were indeed the most common duck in Iceland, seen along beaches and fjords everywhere. 

In late afternoon, Arctic Terns fish in the Jökulsárlón lagoon, near their nesting colony.  If you approach the nesting birds too close, they will buzz you and complain.  But these Icelandic terns, unlike those on, say, Farne Island, are too polite to peck you on the head. Arctic-Tern-in-flight3.jpg (293522 bytes)
 

Arctic Skua

 

 

 

 

31 May 2014

On a drive to check out Fjallsjökull glacier, we encounter a pair of nesting Arctic Skuas, also known as Parasitic Jaegers.  The female shown here was quite upset, eager to lure us away from their tundra nest.
    It would be easier to sympathize with these birds if they didn't bully the terns.  When a skua sees a tern that has caught a fish, it will harass it until it drops the fish, then take the catch for itself.  Not very sporting.

Nearby was the only Rock Ptarmigan of the trip, nonchalantly standing along the roadside.

    We're staying at the Hali Country Lodge, quite comfy, with hearty cuisine at their restaurant.  Here one also finds a museum honoring ţórbergur ţórtharson (or, if you like, Thorbergur Thortharson), an Icelandic writer (1888 - 1974) who is a legend in these parts.

Rock Ptarmigan
Whooper Swan and cygnets 1 June 2014

Today we drove through the mist and rain north to the fishing port of Höfn and back.  Whooper Swans dotted the pastures and were also nesting near the ponds.  Newborn cygnets occasionally raised their heads from under a parent.   True to their monogamous nature,  the mate stood nearby, just in case.

 

 

 

Along the way were also Redshanks.   We could have photographed this tame, noisy bird every day of the trip, rain or shine. Common Redshank
Eurasian Oystercatcher This Eurasian Oystercatcher stood glumly in the rain.  Here they nest inland, far from any beach or oyster.


   
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