Thursday 21 July 2016

Iceland for Waders: Part 1

They might have banned Grouse, but Waders are definitely still on the menu in Iceland and were one of the main reasons for going. The high probability of many Snipe, Godwit and others sitting up nicely on posts was a major draw for Shaun and I, and we were definitely not disappointed - albeit that actually finding a bird prepared to sit up and not fly off was rather challenging.

In late May the waders have for the most part been back a couple of weeks or are just arriving. Some are already on eggs, for instance Oystercatchers, others were still in full courtship behaviour - or rather they were fighting amongst themselves -as we observed Black-tailed Godwits doing. Most photography was done from the car, with me in the front seat behind the wheel, and Shaun typically in the back seat using whichever window worked best. We would try and roll the car into position and basically hope that the birds did not fly off as the car rolled to a halt. Redwings were utterly impossible we found, but all the other birds seemed mostly to tolerate us, even if only for a short while. The cambers in Iceland are often extremely steep, and stopping was often fairly fraught - the side roads were definitely safer.

So yeah, this is unfortunately a photo post. As I mentioned the other day, I've been working on it for a while, mainly as I have a huge processing backlog to get through having had a lot of other stuff going on. So, lots of filler, little content. Just like me. So little content in fact that I'm proud to be able to split it into two posts....

The commonest bird, utterly omnipresent, was Snipe. Rare to get other than a flight view here in Wanstead, but in Iceland the soundtrack was set to the beat of drumming Snipe, and there were birds all over the place - typically on fence posts. Lovely birds, only when you see them close can you appreciate the subtle plumage and the incredible patterning. To cut a eulogy short, they're wonderful and I wished I live somewhere in the uplands where they would be regular.

Probably in equal number, though not as obvious were Redshank. Plaintive calls - one I'm still waiting for on the patch - usually gave away their presence. Whilst they too quite like posts, they were more often found on grassy mounds, of which there are many in Iceland. Shaun and I also found a nest near a car park that had at least one chick and so had the parent birds apoplectic with rage. We left of course, but probably had our best views as the birds would not leave us alone until they were certain we were going in the right direction.

Next up Golden Plover, also numerous, although I did not persist with images because I had spent a fair amount of time with them on my first visit. I reckon I therefore did better a couple of years ago, but I still got a few I'm pleased with despite not getting the lighting conditions I really wanted. Stunning birds in their summer finery though, and you could base a trip solely around this species without much complaint. In fact looking through these I'd quite like to do just that. Hopefully this brief look at these three species will encourage you to as well.

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