American Bonaparte’s gull, first ever nest in Iceland

This video from Washington state in the USA says about itself:

Bonaparte’s Gull feeding

One of about 400 Bonaparte’s in outer Quartermaster Harbor, Vashon Island. Most were roosting on the water while a few were feeding. This bird has completed the transition from winter to breeding plumage, but many were still in transition. Taken on 1 May 2011.

From Club300 in Denmark, 26 June 2017:

Breaking breeding news: Bonaparte’s gull is breeding in Iceland, new breeding bird for the western Palearctic!

Read more, in Danish, here.


Syrian refugees in Iceland

This video says about itself:

In Iceland, refugee population helps yield diversity, economic growth

24 August 2016

As refugees from war flee across continental Europe, a few have found safety in an unlikely place: Iceland. New legislation there relaxes immigration controls, worrying some residents — but more citizens favor diversifying their mostly white and Christian nation. In fact, the country’s economy may rely on population growth. Malcolm Brabant recounts the Icelandic experience of one Syrian family.

From daily News Line in Britain:

With 330,000 inhabitants surrounded by volcanoes, glaciers and geysers, Iceland is an unusual destination for refugees fleeing war in Syria. But since 2015, 118 Syrians have found hope for a new and tranquil life in the Nordic nation. Many of them lived in Lebanon for several years before coming to the land of ice and fire, sent by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Most of them have settled in the capital Reykjavik and its surroundings, while others are beginning their new lives in Akureyri in the north of the country, 70 kilometres (45 miles) south of the Arctic Circle. A refugee family said of Iceland and the weather there, ‘We’re able to adapt to any conditions here, whether they’re easy or difficult, we can live with them,’ he says. ‘It’s only the language that is a bit complicated. We need time to become fully adapted,’ he adds.

Mustafa Akra a Syrian refugee who lives in Iceland with his wife Basma said: ‘They, the Icelanders, welcomed us in a very nice way,’ says 30-year-old Mustafa Akra, thin glasses perched on his nose and a cap on his head. Mustafa says some people he has met in Iceland are ‘racist’, but fewer than in other countries.

Support for the anti-immigration Icelandic National Front, founded in early 2016 when the first Syrian refugees began arriving, remains minimal. The party garnered only 0.2 percent of votes in October’s snap election. And according to a survey carried out for Amnesty International in September, more than 85 percent of Icelanders want to take in more refugees.

‘People are shy to advertise their opposition against refugees. It’s not a popular view here,’ says Linda Blondal, the Syrian couple’s neighbour who is helping them integrate into Icelandic society. The couple knew little or nothing about their new home before coming.

‘We had never heard of Iceland before arriving here. We barely knew where it was!’ explains Basma, who wears a hijab. Mustafa, a strapping man willing to work hard, ended up finding a job. But it wasn’t easy – he speaks neither Icelandic nor English.

In Syria he worked as a taxi driver, a car mechanic, a cook, a house painter and an electrician. He now works for Ali Baba, a Middle Eastern restaurant in the centre of Reykjavik.

The family is set to grow, as Basma is expected to give birth to their first child, a boy, in the coming weeks. ‘I’m proud that he will be born in Iceland, as safe as possible in a beautiful country,’ the 28-year-old mum-to-be says. Iceland registered 791 asylum applications last year, mostly from Balkan countries.

Only 100 have been granted refugee status, including 25 Iraqis, 17 Syrians and 14 Iranians. A year ago, then-prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson welcomed the first six Syrian refugee families at Reykjavik airport. And on Monday, President Gudni Johannesson received another five refugees at his official residence.

Icelandic National Front Neo-Nazis Reportedly Threaten Icelandic Muslim: here.

Swedish Neo-Nazis Come To Iceland, Seeking Recruits: here.

A Nazi’s Disappointment With Iceland (1930s): here.

Seabirds of Iceland

This 2015 video is called PUFFINSLátrabjarg / Iceland.

From BirdLife:

Iceland: Volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs and seabirds

By Marguerite Tarzia and Holmfridur Arnardottir, 13 July 2016

Close to the Arctic Circle, the mid-Atlantic ridge emerges from the ocean depths onto land, creating a country full of geological wonder and amazing wildlife. If you want adventure combined with beautiful scenery and 24-hour daylight, Iceland should be your destination this summer!

Iceland is revered by marine biologists around the world for its biodiversity, including the largest animal to have ever existed on the planet – the Blue Whale. During spring and summer, Iceland boasts huge colonies of seabirds and if you stick to the coast during your trip you are very likely to see them as they return from their foraging trips to feed their chicks.

Currently there are 85 marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) identified by Fuglavernd (BirdLife in Iceland). These are mostly land based colonies and the seas immediately surrounding them, where birds feed and sit on the water.

This is the place for puffins

From April-August it is easy to catch a glimpse of the charismatic Atlantic Puffin as they travel to and from their nesting burrows. The local Icelandic name for the puffin is lundi. The best places to see puffins include Látrabjarg in the Westfjords Ísafjarðardjúp and Borgarfjörður eystri. The European population of the Atlantic Puffin is estimated between 9.5 to 11.6 million individuals, however due to continued declines and dramatic lack of breeding success, the species is now considered Endangered in Europe.

Another cliff-nesting species that can be seen in large numbers is the Northern Fulmar, a beautiful seabird (it is part of the same group as albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters) that appears to effortless soar on the wind. Be warned though about getting too close to this bird, as its nifty defence is to spit an oily substance at anything posing a threat. Like the puffin, this species has also recently been up-listed to Endangered across Europe.

You will also be able to see the Black-legged Kittiwake, Razorbill, Common Murre, Thick-billed Murre and Black Guillemot. Away from the cliffs you are also likely to see seaduck species such as the Common Eider.

Seabirds struggling in a changing climate

Iceland remains an amazing place to see seabirds, whales and dolphins. However the changes occurring in the marine environment due to direct and indirect human activities, are impacting food availability, timing of breeding and migration, and ultimately breeding success and survival.

Climate change is not limited to Iceland of course, however it is one of the places in the world where catastrophic breeding failure is being witnessed. The distribution of prey species such as the sand eel, herring and krill is changing as ocean temperatures rise and circulation patterns change. This is making it harder for birds to find and access food for their hungry chicks. In some locations there has been almost no puffin breeding success since 2005, and if this trend continues, the puffin and other Icelandic seabirds are truly in trouble.

Tips from locals: The BirdLife team

The BirdLife team recently headed to Iceland to hold a workshop with Fuglavernd and scientists to identify important areas in the mid-Atlantic (high seas, beyond national boundaries). We took advantage of being in Iceland to explore one the country’s marine IBAs – Vestmannaeyjar – or the Westman Islands. This small [archipelago of] island[s] to the south of the mainland boasts the country’s largest puffin colony, estimated at eight million pairs. Imagine those many puffins in the one place! You can get to the Westmans easily by ferry or plane (although you are most likely to see puffins in the surrounding seas), and there are also caves and volcanoes to explore. If you don’t want to travel too far but are still keen on peeking at a puffin, you can even take a boat trip from Reykjavik’s old harbor to see the species up close in Engey or Lundey (‘Lundi’+’ey’, or Puffin Island).

Waterbirds, seabirds of western France: here.

Iceland, football victory celebration and birds

This video says about itself:

27 June 2016

Iceland fans celebrate in Reykjavik after team knocked England out of Euro 2016

Iceland had never qualified for a major tournament prior to the European Championship, and it is the smallest country in the tournament. That didn’t stop the island nation from toppling England, with Ragnar Sigurdsson and Kolbeinn Sigthorsson scoring after Wayne Rooney opened the scoring in the fourth minute from the penalty spot. Watch as Iceland’s fans, many of whom packed a town square in Reykjavik, go crazy during and after the historic win.

To contribute to the celebration, this 2015 video is about birds in Iceland, including snow bunting, redwing, Arctic tern, puffin and many others. It reminds me of when I was in Iceland long ago.

Iceland 2-England 1, football celebrated with birds

This video says about itself:

27 June 2016

See how Iceland celebrated knocking out England at UEFA EURO 2016 with their famous slow hand clap in Nice.

Iceland scores two goals. England one.

Iceland has reached the best eight countries in the European football championship. On Sunday, they will play France.

To celebrate this, three bird videos. One for each goal: two Icelandic videos, one British one.

This video shows a redwing near Lake Myvatn in Iceland.

This video is called Whale and bird watching in the northeast of Iceland. Places visited include Husavik, Myvatn and Langanes peninsula.

This video is called Stonechat Bird Chirping and Singing – Birds in Cornwall England.