Saturday, 6 April 2013

Harlequin Ducks in Iceland

I got back home this afternoon, after a really enjoyable week in Iceland. A fabulous country, and I'd thoroughly recommend it to anyone - it's Scotland on a grand scale with volcanoes, clean air and full of friendly folk. As well as a fair few interesting birds (including the obligatory gulls), and very few birders there is a lot to find and discover. Admittedly, I did luck out on glorious sunshine all week but I reckon these beauties would look pretty special in the rain too: -
 

Harlequins at Grundarfjörður 4th April 2013
Harlequins were quite easy to see, and I managed to locate the odd bird on most days of the holiday - down in the southwest near Grindavik (in the bay at Hraunsvik), in the south at Vik and then in the northwest at Grundarfjörður. April is the time of year when they start heading off from their coastal wintering grounds back onto the rivers where they breed, so some seemed paired up whilst others were still in small flocks feeding amongst the surf and rocky coastlines. Earlier in the winter, they'd be larger flocks in the bays while a few weeks on, it's when the long lens brigade pap them on the fast flowing rivers in their breeding habitat. First time I've ever seen drakes in sparkling plumage so an absolute pleasure (saw some in Washington/Oregon in minging kit last summer).

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