Birding Iceland on the Fly

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We boarded the 8:40 pm red-eye from JFK to Reykjavik on May 28; the intention was to sleep on the plane but with the excitement of travel and possibilities swirling around my head I didn’t sleep a wink (*tip – Iceland Air offers free stopovers for up to seven days as you travel from the US to Europe! In fact I don’t think the sun ever set while we were in Iceland. Another fantastic reason to come to Iceland during this time! Trips Europe Iceland seabirds

Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides

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Iceland Gulls do not breed in Iceland. But if one detaches “Ice&# from “land&# and puts a hyphen between the two the name seems much more fitting, because while they do not breed in Iceland they are usually seen when the land is covered in ice. Because of their huge range and large and stable population Iceland Gulls are considered a Species of Least Concern by BirdLife International , good news for those who, like me, enjoy seeing them whenever possible.

This Week in Bird News: Iceland’s Newest Residents, Sleeping-While-Flying Secrets, and a Truly Diabolical Image

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Listen up, listers: If you’ve got an Iceland list, you might need to amend it … the country has gained six new nesting species in the 21st century. News avian keratin disorder Beak chronophotography diabolical Great Frigatebirds Iceland Osprey sleep thermalsIt’s a sad day for nestcam watchers, as a Bald Eagle nonchalantly snatched one of Rachel and Steve’s Osprey fledglings. But thankfully, there’s other bird news that’s more positive.

Whaling Compromises Of Little Use

Critter News

What about Norway and Iceland? Iceland recently announced a quota of 100 fin whales - an endangered species - which is a dramatic increase its original self-assigned quota of nine. Tags: norway iceland whale Japan whaling This sucks.

Whales 100

Grifalco: Aglianico del Vulture “Gricos” (2016)

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Remarkably, al-Maghrib’’s Kitab al-Juhrafiya ( Geography ) even makes mention of Ireland and Iceland, islands at the edge of the known world at the time, and identifies these places as sources of this coveted falcon. After its colonization by the Norse in the late ninth century, Iceland soon became a lucrative source of Gyrfalcons destined for the courts of Europe and beyond. Birding Food Reviews Birds and Booze falconry Gyrfalcon Iceland Italy wine

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Whales Losing the Will to Live?

Critter News

Tags: norway iceland whales Japan whaling endangered species

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What is a Kumlien’s Gull?

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Most birders, including the American Ornithologists’ Union, accept Kumlien’s Gull as a subspecies of Iceland Gull. Still others say that Thayer’s Gull , Iceland Gull , and Kumlien’s Gull are all a single species and we all are kidding ourselves by pretending otherwise. Individuals range from completely white-winged (indistinguishable from nominate glaucoides Iceland Gull) to so much dark in the wings as to be indistinguishable from Thayer’s Gull.

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Whales in danger.

4 The Love Of Animals

The plan can mean not only reversing the current ban on whale hunting by Norway, Iceland, and Japan for the next ten years, but will allow whaling in the internationally recognized whale sanctuary around Antarctica. We recently got an email about the dangers currently being faced by our whale population as a result of a recent proposal to legalize commercial whaling.

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Best Bird of the Weekend (Last of February 2019)

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As promised, I teased a single Iceland Gull out of an endless horde of more common gulls. The shortest month of the calendar year tends to be one of the less birdy as well. Still, twenty-eight days hardly suffice when the world offers so much to see. To keep the good times rolling, I spent the rest of the weekend watching paint dry and water boil.

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Best Bird of the Weekend (Third of February 2015)

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Corey’s Best Bird of the Weekend was a long overdue but still unexpected sighting at Baisley Pond Park in Queens, an Iceland Gull. As members of an international community of nature lovers, we all experience the weekend in different parts of this wide, wide world. Consequently, only those of you who live in the northern temperate regions can appreciate how I’m feeling about this dreadful month.

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Best Bird of the Weekend (Third of February 2018)

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But Corey’s Best Bird of the Weekend was incidental, non-waterfowl find along the way, an Iceland Gull at Jacob Riis Park. Weekends are much like birds, in that some are more prosaic than others. Not all can be stunners or megas. Were we to ascribe to weekends the taxonomy of birds, our days would likely resemble our lists: for every resplendent songbird or wild raptor would be ten ordinary gulls or pigeons, interesting in their own rights but hardly worth raving about.

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A Rough Day at Sea – a New York Pelagic out of Freeport

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That was alright though, as a short time later Eric Miller spotted an Iceland Gull in our wake that certainly provided the opportunity for some photography! Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides both above and below (Click the one below to embiggen it.). The Iceland Gull was one of two younger birds that would follow the boat for long portions of the day, to say nothing of a nice adult bird that trailed our wake on our way back in to port.

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Red-necked Phalarope, Globetrotter Extraordinaire

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Along the wayward route, the Phalarope made stops in Iceland, Greenland, the continental U.S., Let’s say you’re a bird wrapping up your breeding season in the north of Scotland—where do your thoughts turn when winter beckons? If you’re like most, you head southeast, meeting up with your continental cousins near the Mediterranean or Arabian Seas. But at least one Red-necked Phalarope has a different idea of the ideal winter getaway, and a huge cache of frequent-flyer miles.

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Best Bird of the Weekend (Fourth Weekend of 2012)

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Corey’s Best Bird of the Weekend was any one of the five Iceland Gulls spotted at the Beacon Train Station where a massive-by-New-York-standards twitch for a Slaty-backed Gull seen the day before failed to turn up the guest of honor. Are we going to talk birds here or discuss how awesome it is that the NY Giants are going to the Super Bowl? Oh, birds? I should have guessed that. Big Blue fans can leave proud comments and hyperbolic predictions in the comments!

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Best Bird of the Weekend (Last of February 2018)

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All manner of spring species are turning up in the Finger Lakes region, but I’m still working on winter stragglers, which makes a self-found Iceland Gull my favorite of this weekend. February may not last as long as other months, but much happens from a phenological perspective in just 28.25 Have you recognized how different your immediate surroundings are compared to the beginning of the month?

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Best Bird of the Weekend (Second of February 2017)

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My BBOTW was definitely that Iceland Gull. The second weekend of February offers much to bird lovers and love birds alike. Hope you made the best of it! We birders tend to be excellent at making the best of what others might consider bad situations. For example, when life gives me hundreds of boring gulls, I try to make at least one of them a less boring gull.

2017 40

Whooper Winterland

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Whooper Swans ( Cygnus cygnus ) The Whooper Swans of the UK and Ireland generally come from Iceland. It’s Christmas Day and all through the house people are eating and lounging about. So a long detailed post on the second part of my day in Bangkok will have to wait, but a post still needs to be written. Fortunately this weekend I was lucky enough to visit Martin Mere in Lancashire, a Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve.

Bleak Midwinter Update

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And, most recently, I returned to Bush Terminal Piers Park, where I saw an Iceland Gull a few weeks back, to try once more for the long-staying Eurasian Wigeon. All the usual gulls were around, but nothing that my inexperienced eye could pick out as a rarity, not even the Iceland Gull from last time.

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We need to talk about your life list

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Once considered a subspecies of Iceland Gull , it is now known to be nothing more than a hybrid between the white-winged Iceland Gull and the black-patterned Thayer’s Gull. And this is where your lists hit the fan: what was that bird again you put on your year/life/whatever list as “Iceland Gull”? Yes, that’s right. I’ve got bad news for you, provided you do or have or will live and bird and list in North America. But sit down first.

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Winter Pelagic Trip Out of Freeport, New York, 11 January 2015

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Iceland Gull. Iceland Gull 2. Pelagic trips are a gamble on the vastness of the ocean. They can be incredibly dull or amazingly exciting on smooth seas or big waves. They can bring awesome rarities or nothing much at all. Rarely, you run aground. The point is almost anything can happen when you are out in a boat on the water but it certainly won’t happen, at least not to you, if you aren’t on the boat.

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Waterfowl at Baisley Pond Park in Winter

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Even more exciting than close range waterfowl was the Iceland Gull I picked out from among the gulls that roost on the ice. Iceland Gulls look good even when surrounded by goose poop. Baisley Pond Park in southern Queens is a spot that few birders venture to despite it being a magnet for wintering waterfowl. It is inconvenient by mass transit, requiring a bus ride at the end of a ride on the subway, and the nearest highways, the Belt and the Van Wyck, tend to clog up with traffic.

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Birding Russia on the Fly

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First was an awesome stay in Iceland. Here’s his second stop: Our second destination after Iceland was St. Petersburg on Iceland Air, which saved us time and helped us avoid a night’s stay at a hotel. Joseph Chiera is a Masters student in Animal Behavior and Conservation at Hunter College in NYC and a “somewhat newbie” to birding. After taking an ornithology course last year, he was hooked and spends most of his free time birding or reading birding blogs.

Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Western North America & Peterson Field Guide to Birds of Eastern and Central North America: A Field Guide Review

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The lump into Iceland Gull means it is now part of a lengthy Iceland Gull species account, illustrated in one small drawing, giving more room on the page for a larger Lesser Black-backed Gull.

What to Do at High Island When the Winds are South

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Eagle-eyed Pat spotted a Lesser Black-backed Gull in nonbreeding plumage and other birders that week noted a Thayer’s Gull (which we may have seen too–I mean, who expects Iceland Gull in April?). High Island in April requires Weather, so I was told.

Pied Wagtail

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Pied Wagtail – male Our Pied Wagtails are a different race to the familiar White Wagtail of Europe many of which will also pass through Britain heading for Iceland. It’s March and most birders over here are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the first spring migrants from whichever far-flung corner they’ve been wintering. In the meantime one of our earliest migrants and most familiar species is bobbing it’s tail northwards by the thousand.

2012 69

Loner, Drifter: More on the Hoary Bat

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Migration makes them vulnerable to straying: Accidental Hoary Bats have been found as far afield as Bermuda and Iceland. I cannot get the Hoary Bat out of my head. I never knew, until my ill-fated encounter , that these are among the most birdie of the North American flying mammals. Hoary Bats roost in trees, not caves.

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Avian Quiz Answer – May 20, 2011

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Eurasian Wigeon Ross’s Goose Upland Sandpiper Little Gull Wilson’s Phalarope Marbled Godwit Least Tern Iceland Gull Many of these would be great additions to the yard list. [[ Corey, I used to like you. Really I did. I liked you when you answered my quiz incorrectly. Then I could feign some sort of false sense of superiority. I could imagine that I outfoxed you. Now what am I supposed to feel?

2011 56

Boobies, Really?

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This is thought to be derived from súla, which is an Old Norse and Icelandic word for the gannet. It is my sincere intent to have a short discussion about small group of birds, the Boobies, without any form of sophomoric humor. Those of you that know me, will find this extremely hard to believe, but I am going to give it my best shot, because really that’s what this is all about isn’t it? First of all, how about a little bit of history about our beloved Boobies.

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A March New York Pelagic Trip Out Of Freeport

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Sure, we got a couple of young Iceland Gulls that didn’t stay with the boat for long and, yes, a couple of nice Lesser Black-backed Gulls were cool, but no Black-legged Kittiwakes , no Glaucous Gulls , and nothing else other than Great Black-backed Gulls , Herring Gulls , and a few Bonaparte’s Gulls. Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides. Pelagic birding is one of my favorite ways to bird.

Godwits are bad ambassadors of conservation

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It breeds in a broad and not quite coherent band from Iceland in the west through central Europe and southern Scandinavia all the way to eastern Russia, wintering in Africa, parts of India, and Southeast Asia to Australia. I fully realize that my last post was not a bird post in the strictest sense. As a matter of fact, one might surmise that I have merely instrumantalized a few images of a wet magpie to let loose a relentless rant about our weather.

2013 63

When will the Pluvialis tundra plovers get their own family?

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European Golden-Plovers ( Pluvialis apricaria ) on their breeding ground in Iceland CC-BY Elma Morphological analyses placed the tundra plovers squarely among all the other plovers — including dotterels , Killdeer , and Snowy and Kentish Plovers — for many years. The air was thick and clammy, and mosquitoes were biting along Louisiana’s Mermentau River last Thursday morning, the final day of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

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Missing Mojo

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Perhaps the biggest event of this winter has been the late winter occurrence of hundreds of ‘white-winged gulls’ from Shetland to Dover and seemingly at all points in between we, in Britain & Ireland, have been inundated with Iceland Gulls and Glaucous Gulls in recent weeks. Iceland Gull With them they have brought an exceptional number of individuals that have been identified as Kumlien’s Gull. I’ve been struggling for a post topic this month.

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Call B for Birder or Waterfowling East Anglia

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It breeds in Greenland, Iceland and Svalbard and overwinters (singly and at mountain top hot springs – if Hollywood is to be trusted) along the coasts of northern Europe. A few winters ago, I went waterfowling in East Anglia. At local Internet forums, my friend Dr B. sounds like some James Bond’s nemesis, doesn’t it?) discovered that the usual flock of several thousand Pink-footed Geese was wintering in the Broads National Park.

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Minks and more on the Outer Banks

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The Iceland Gull at Wanchese was a no-show. A couple weekends ago I headed out to the Carolina Bird Club’s winter meeting in Nags Head, North Carolina, on the cusp of the Outer Banks. The CBC is great for holding their meetings at some of the Carolinas’ best birding locations, but there’s something special about the Outer Banks that makes the rotation to the NC coast something that birders don’t want to miss.

2015 62

Three Amazing Things

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“Climate change is likely to be driving this change because godwits nest earlier in warmer years, and birds that hatch earlier will have more time to gain the body condition needed for migration and to find good places to spend the winter, which can help them to return early to Iceland when they come back to breed.” Migration Shift Cause Better Understood. Birds have been migrating earlier.

2013 69

Gulls at Daytona Beach

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Seeing as Daytona Beach is only about an hour north of the festival site and we both like large bird spectacles, Mark Hedden of Caligo Ventures and I headed up there on the second day of the festival and arrived to see lots of gulls (the enticement of lifers in the form of Pomarine Jaeger for me and the form of California Gull and Iceland Gull for Mark had nothing to do with our eagerness to scan thousands of gulls).

2012 59

Birding the Cyclades: My my, how can I resist you?

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I asked if the butterfly stood a chance of returning to the shore, to find out that it is a long range migrant, braving the winds of the North Atlantic while traveling all the way from Africa to Iceland! I am half-awake, but keep my eyes closed. Listening to the wheeping of stays and shrouds and screeching of fenders against the next sailboat, I do not want to wake up. Still, we are sailing out of the marina soon and I should have some coffee before that.

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The 2018 Queens County Christmas Bird Count

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The Douglaston sector had the count’s 10th Iceland Gull , Valley Stream had our 12th Eastern Phoebe , and the Lesser Black-backed Gulls we had in the Rockaways were their 7th occurrence. Eight days ago, on Sunday, 16 December, a whole big bunch of intrepid birders headed out across my fine home borough into abysmal conditions to conduct the 2018 Queens County Christmas Bird Count.

2018 43

Birding Sweden on the Fly

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In June of 2013 he embarked on a whirlwind tour of Europe, spotting birds in Iceland , Russia , Finland , and, as you’re about to find out, Sweden: We took a quick flight from Helsinki and arrived in Stockholm, Sweden, arriving at our fourth country on this trip. Joseph Chiera is a Masters student in Animal Behavior and Conservation at Hunter College in NYC and a “somewhat newbie” to birding.

Postcard From ‘Eirene’

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As the winds have been almost exclusively from the west and north west it may well be that these are birds from Greenland or Iceland that have been caught up in these post hurricane weather systems and moved further west than they otherwise might have chosen to fly, similar to the large scale arrivals of Lapland Buntings at a similar time last year. Irene sends her love.

2011 80

Beat on Assignment

10,000 Birds

While on a residency in Iceland, during which I pursued interests in music and invention, I brought a camera to record little moments in a strange new landscape. Please give a warm welcome to Walter Kitundu, the latest addition to the bevy of beat writers on 10,000 Birds. Walter first came to our attention on 10,000 Birds when he made a comment here – and are we ever glad he did! He is an excellent photographer and his blog, Bird Light Wind , is well worth a visit.

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Birding Finland on the Fly

10,000 Birds

First was an awesome stay in Iceland. Joseph Chiera is a Masters student in Animal Behavior and Conservation at Hunter College in NYC and a “somewhat newbie” to birding. After taking an ornithology course last year, he was hooked and spends most of his free time birding or reading birding blogs. Between finishing one graduate program and beginning another, he embarked on a whirlwind tour of Europe. Of course, birding was on the itinerary! Next came a stop in Russia.

And so it begins

10,000 Birds

Late this week I sorted through three hundred trying, unsuccessfully, to find the odd Iceland Gulls that turn up each year. We are on the cusp of a massive influx of migrants. Well, massive being relative to where I am. The trickle of new arrivals for here will soon be a flood. Most of the breeding birds returning here will arrive within the next 10 days to two weeks. Snow Buntings are usually our first to arrive, and they’ve been around since the last half of April.

2011 47