Well I’m behind again as far as posting is concerned, but in my defence I’ve been away once again (more of that in a future post) and have at least updated the Natures Images Blog between times too: well worth a visit if you’ve not been there yet as there’s stuff from all of our tour leaders to be found there as well as some different selections of my images!
There is of course much more to be seen and found in Iceland than water based birds, and most photographers visiting the country do so for the impressive and at times awesome landscape opportunities. I don’t consider myself to be much more than a competent landscape photographer in comparison to my wildlife work but you almost can’t fail to capture something here, whether it’s one of the seemingly thousands of waterfalls, the beauty of the extreme isolation of the place or the amazing colours that the sulphorous activity at the core of the country can bring to the scene.
One of the beauties of travelling around the country is that almost wherever you stop there seems to be an opportunity to spend time with breeding waders at this time of year. These are birds that are notoriously difficult to work with in terms of their general wariness (or scarcity) here in the UK but with some patience, sensible stalking and preparedness to wait until the moment is right then whether it’s Black-Tailed Godwits or Whimbrel on the moorlands or Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher by the shore then it’s time well spent, and very enjoyable too.
Last time I’d visited the country the wader I was most pleased to spend some time with, in part because simply listening to their call is so evocative of any moorland habitat, was the Golden Plover. This trip they once again didn’t disappoint but with a fantastic twist in the form of a heavy snowfall as well – summer plumage and winter weather all in one: the pleasures of working in the far north neatly summarised.
As enjoyable and unusual as this was though it was another smaller and more dainty wader that really took my heart this trip – the Red-Necked Phalarope. Here in the UK, the odd winter vagrant apart, they are only to be found breeding in The Shetlands, and in by no means great numbers either. They are fantastically confiding birds, more intent on busying themselves in their almost constant search for flies to eat it would seem or at this stage of the breeding season making sure that the female has found herself a good male to incubate her eggs and bring up the chicks – it’s a complete role reversal from the norm for this unusual birds. When the beautiful Icelandic early morning light combined with a couple of perfectly still mornings conditions were near perfect to capture a little bit of their antics.
Iceland is a stunning country to visit and work in photographically – extremeley hard work in these summer months when the weather is in your favour as the nights are very short and the best light is to be found on either side of it so sleep comes in bite-sized chunks. But interacting with nature and enjoying the experience both emotionally and photographically is what all nature photographers like best (much more so than the admin and office work that’s necessary) so I’ll never be one to baulk at a bit of tiredness when there are opportunities like this to be had. It won’t be 5 years till I go back next time for sure!