Edward's Birding Diary
|11 July 2006|
Smiles of a summer night
Now the World Cup is over I can start doing something vaguely worthwhile again. Summer is generally a time of incidental birding, usually whilst I am hiking in the mountains around Reykjavík. As I virtually never take my binoculars with me on these walks (as I don't expect to find anything unusual - the day I find a Dotterel when I don't have bins with me I'll have a heart attack) I have to get close to the birds to see them. This generally involves no greater fieldcraft than sitting still and letting them come to me and some of my closest encounters have come on walks when I've left the binoculars at home. Last week I enjoyed the attentions of a male Northern Wheatear as I sat on a jagged tangle of palagonite, weird rock formations shaped like crones.
I was obviously resting in the middle of its territory and it circled me, whistling and clicking as well as embarking on short song flights along the walls of its natural ampitheatre. A common bird but most enjoyable nonetheless. At this time of year not even I could use the World Cup as an excuse not to get any exercise at all, since it's light 24-hours a day, and so there is nothing stopping me going walking at midnight if I feel like it. I went on one late night walk the other weekend, up a 750 metre mountain near Reykjavík.
The birds I encountered were pretty much those I expected: Whimbrel, Golden Plover, Meadow Pipit, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Northern Wheatear wherever there were rocks, and mournful Snow Buntings singing higher up. An Arctic Skua did a very involved broken wing display (I hadn't noticed this behaviour until last summer and then they were all doing it -either it's the latest fashion or I was blind as a bat until last summer) and just as I was jumping over a stream, my feet heading for a tussock on the far side, a Meadow Pipit erupted from the grass just where I was about to land. Fortunately, I surprised myself with my dexterity and managed to avoid trampling over a nest containing four eggs, presumably a second clutch.