Hennie van Heerden's Wildlife Diary

June 11, 2010

Iceland! Arrival at Reykjavik

Filed under: June — Hennie van Heerden @ 8:58 pm

It was só good to set foot on Icelandic soil again! We’ve waited two years for it and the first glimpse of that gorgeous country brought all the good memories right back. We couldn’t wait to get the rental car and start going. But first we had to get all the gear into the car. An experience in itself. I think we both brought all we had on photographical equipment and in our case.. that’s a lot! But this time Michel won with his huuuuuge 600mm Nikon! 🙂

Immediately after we left Reykjavik we stopped at the first harbour in sight to shoot the many seabirds. Michel has this fetish about seagulls …  🙂
 I got a feeling that we wouldn’t reach Vik before midnight, an estimation that certainly proved right 🙂
When Michel was shooting away with his seagull I happened to look out of the car on my side. And oh surprise! A Snipe was trying to resemble a clump of grass by ducking himself totally motionless! I was so proud! Normally it’s always Michel who finds the harder to spot birds so I was really happy with this find! And pretty soon I felt the familiar feeling of a Nikon lens, pressed against my cheek 🙂 (they should do something to the countless little grippoints on that zoomring! They make my cheeks look like I had a severe attack of acne!)

When we continued our way to Vik, we immediately felt that same familiarity we experienced two years ago. Normally Michel isn’t such a talker (as opposed to me) but when we are on a photo-trip like this, we are never short of subjects. Well granted, 90% is about photography, but it’s great fun. When we reached the vast plains just outside of Reykjavik I saw a blur from the corner of my eye. I shouted “stop” as I was sure I saw a rather big bird flying over the fields. I described what I thought I saw to Michel and, highly experienced birder he is, immediately said Owl. (on our previous trip we saw 97 different species of birds, of which he determined 95 immediately; 2 he wasn’t completely sure but proved right afterwards. The man sure knows his birds!).
We were so excited when we saw the bird again and this time clearly saw that it indeed was a Short-Eared Owl; a species that was so high on our list on the last trip, but couldn’t find. And now here it was, on our very first day in Iceland! According to Michel, the Owls follow the food supply, which means that a good mice year will mean lots of owls. A fantastic sighting. Unfortunately no good shots as it was still too far, but our hopes were up for the rest of the trip!

The sun was already low in the sky when we continued. In june the sun hardly ever goes down completely and the light in the evening (you can photograph until around 11PM!, which is exactly the time the landscape to the left was made) is magnificent. Very soft. The two Redshanks we found in a vast lupine field bathed in that soft, warm light. That took us another hour 🙂 You can imagine that we arrived way too late at the hostel we were booked for the night and we had to find our way to our beds in pitch darkness. Something that wasn’t made easy by the many pieces of luggage that were scattered all over the room.

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