We woke up to a Black-tailed Godwit on the lawn and an Arctic Skua flying past the kitchen window. Just your regular Icelandic garden birds. Our plan today was to drive some of our favourite roads to the north-west of Borgarnes, some long circular routes that leave the main road west-bound and then loop back to rejoin it further up. On previous trips these had been extremely productive, offering fabulous encounters with Skuas and Waders, some of my best photos of Icelandic birds come from this area. They were not improved upon....
|A familiar shape. We did not get attacked this time.
The weather, oh the weather. It is just luck. You could go for a three week trip and not see the sun. Equally you could go for a weekend and enjoy wall to wall sunshine and blue skies. Luck of the draw. We lost. Another dreadful and dreary day. It was clear, at least initially, but when the light is dull so are the photographs - as you will see! All the birds we expected were there but there were no pleasing poses, no close fly-bys, no lovely posts and, well, no light. Mick and I are very exacting, he far more so than me. I pressed the trigger a few times but it was just miserable. And then the rain started. Excellent.
We established however that there was not expected to be much rain on the Snaefellsnes Penisula, which is the large bit that sticks out westward about half way up. We decided to cut our losses and head up there as it was only about 90 minutes away. This turned out to be an excellent decision and as we approached we could even see blue sky. We spent the late morning and early afternoon birding our way westward until we reached the coastal bird colonies around Arnarstapi - Kittiwakes primarily, but also Fulmar and a few Auks. We probably spent more time visiting various landmarks along the coast, famous churches, and whilst neither of us are in any way accomplished landscape photographers we gave it a go.
|Experimenting with HDR
|The Black Church of Budir
|Half church, half shed
|The landscapes in Iceland are immense and dramatic
After having really quite a nice time photographing birds in nice light we crossed the peninsula to the northern side and birded our way back east. There were Harlequins at Grundarfjordur, and lots of Glaucous Gulls, and we found our first White-tailed Eagle at Berserkjahraun. In a plantation to the south of Stykkisholmur we located Goldcrest and Redpoll in amongst loads of invisible Redwing, and from the hill that overlooks the harbour we found a distant Puffin bobbing about. It was all about the trip list at this point.
And that was our day, we had at least outrun the weather and finally had some OK bird photographs. It was a long drive back to our digs at Borgarnes but we made good time and had another filling meal at the N1.