If you’re feeling alone, you’re not. As long as there’s a bit of a scrap of a birch shrub within a few hundred metres, a thrush will be watching you.
It will even sing you the news.
The nasty piece of work called the skua comes to the Eiðars skirting the rip rap on the Jökulsá.
At first, they get out of the way.
The Skua keeps at it. When I witnessed this scene two weeks ago, I’d already been harassed by a skua myself, on the selfljót. It wanted my grey hat. Or me. I don’t know which. Yikes.
It’s the ducklings it really wants, though.
The eiðar defense entails a lot of splashing.
And then the eiðars attack the skua.
And jump on the murderous intruder’s wings.
And try to drown that sucker.
It kicks across the water…
… with a duckling (flapping its little wings) for a catch.
And that’s why eiðars have so many ducklings.
Out in the nature reserve in Neskaupstaðir (just go right to the end of town), the beach below the trail is gorgeous.
Surfing. Scrabbling in the backwash for good things to eat.
In a good wave, the ducklings get tossed a metre into the air, tumbled head to heels, then dragged a metre under water again, only to pop back out.
This is beautiful to watch. For the ducklings, it’s survival. When a skua comes to take one, the whole flock of ducks imitates this scramble. It’s life or death.
I’ll show you that scramble tomorrow.
And then they burst up in front of you, from like 20 cm away, and are gone. The trick to disappearing is to remain absolutely still. It didn’t quite work for the one above, which tried to sneak between the cover of two rocks and wound up freezing on the shore grass beside the trail. The one below got it right, though. Safe among the lava lumps.
It’s the joyful hoped-for unexpectedness of the encounters that is so alluring. Like most things in Iceland, “you just never know.”
You can brave the rough, steep road to Borgisfjörður Eystr and see the puffins up close and personal, and they are really, really great, but this is better, because they aren’t so crowded, which gives a different dynamic, and more goofiness. These are, like, country puffins.
Plus, the gulls are sneaky. See her below?
And unlike the puffins in Borgisfjörður Eystril, they aren’t controlled by hidden netting to preserve their habitat and green it, so these are puffins in the raw, so to speak, which means erosion, yes, but also (see below) a penthouse!
Turn off the road to Vellir Farm just north of Svalbard, just north of Þorshöfn. You will soon be there, puffing on your 3.5 km walk to the puffins, delighted by the sculpted sea stacks and caves on the way. Get there soon, though. The puffins have an ocean to get back to. Oh, by the way, if you’re lucky, you can get pretty close. How about 3 metres?
Such beautiful birds!
Iceland is famous for its green technology, especially its geo-thermal heating and power generation, not to mention its tunnelling technology for road construction. Hats off! What’s more, some of its tunnelling technology is also adaptable to tunnelling in water. We can all learn a lot from its geo-engineers. Here’s a couple having a well-earned break.
Tunnelling Puffins Coming Up for Air in Borgárfjörður Eystri.