Saturday, 30 November 2013


I've haven't posted on here for a while now, so just thought I'd let you all know what I've been up to.

I'm coming towards the end of my temporary job, which finishes in mid-December, so that's one of the reasons I haven't been able to do much photography recently. After that I have some exciting plans for next year but nothing is concrete yet, so watch this space! Other than that, Bitterns are back at my local reserve so I will hopefully be photographing them this winter as well.

The only time I really did any photography was a family holiday to Iceland in October. We were there for a week, mainly in the southwest of the country, starting in Keflavik before travelling north to the south side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. It was a fantastic place with wonderful landscapes and light. From here we came back down to the south, before returning to Keflavik to fly home. Birds were scarce at the time of year: most of the ducks were on the sea by now, almost all the waders had returned south for the winter, and there are very few passerines there. There were still plenty of Whooper Swans around though, as well as quite a few Ptarmigan.

These first images were taken while driving north from Keflavik. While driving from our first hotel to the second we passed a large lake by the side of the road. Fortunately there was a small car park so we pulled over to have a look. There were plenty of birds on it; over 100 Eiders, as well as a couple of Great Northern Divers, some Long-tailed Ducks, several groups of Wigeon, and around the edge of the lake, Oystercatchers and Golden Plovers. For this shot of the plover I wish I could have taken it from a lower angle, but I wouldn't have been able to do that without sitting in the water!

The colour of the water was a fantastic blue, so as the Eiders were mostly out in the middle of the lake, I had to photography them small in the frame.

Later on during the same journey, we came across a group of 6 Whooper Swans standing on a frozen pool by the side of the road. Despite being nearly 11am, the light was fantastic. Iceland's population is only 320,000, and sometimes we wouldn't pass another car on the roads for an hour. While watching these swans all I could hear was their calls and a Raven croaking in the distance, nothing else; certainly a contrast to living in London. After a while the Whooper Swans took off, and I managed to get these images of them.

The next day the weather was very different, with low cloud and persistent drizzle for most of it. While driving back from a walk I spotted some more Whooper Swans by the side of the road. By now the rain had turned to snow (perfect timing!) so I was able to photograph the swans in the snow. They were on the other side of the car to me, however, so my brother had to open his window so I could photograph them. Unfortunately for him, this mean he got very wet!

I had been told that Ptarmigan were fairly common in Iceland, but so far hadn't seen any. Every time we drove anywhere I had my eyes glued to the windows looking out for a white blob in the otherwise fairly grey landscape. Later that evening, while we were just getting to our hotel my brother spotted one sitting right by the side of the road!
While staying in Iceland there was one bird I was particularly keen to see: the Harlequin Duck. In Europe Iceland is the only reliable place to see them, so I was hopeful I'd be successful. During one of our walks we were going between two villages, along the coastline, and I was delighted to find a small group of them! Unfortunately no photos as they were too far away, but still great to see. I also managed to find a female King Eider, not a common bird in Iceland, and a small group of Purple Sandpipers.

I also managed to take some photos right outside our last hotel! Other than the main hotel which we were staying in, it had some cottages further down the hill. While looking out of the window soon after we'd arrived I saw a ptarmigan flying behind one of the cottages, so grabbed my camera and set off. After searching through the scrub for a good hour and finding nothing I was turning to head back to the hotel when I suddenly saw it, sitting on the ground floor balcony of one of the cottages! Over the next hour I got closer and closer, until I was so near that I could photograph it with a wide angle!
My last photos of the trip were taken one evening just as the sun was setting. We were driving back to our hotel, and I was looking out for something to photograph in the amazing light. I couldn't see any birds, but then saw a group of horses so we pulled over and I got out to photograph them.

Oh, and on our very last night before flying back at 7am the next day, having had no luck with them all week, we saw the northern lights! Fairly faint more the most part, but it was more intense for brief periods! Here's a very average photo!
That's it from me. Iceland is a fantastic place, and I'm sure I'll be back one day.

Thanks for reading.