Thursday, 26 May 2016

Iceland May 2016 Part 4 Falling on our feet!

With two days of our precious seven already gone both Mike and I were itching to get at it, so much so we were up and about at 4.15a.m. ! If truth be known Mike woke me up with the banging of wardrobes and rattle of metal hangers in the room next door but I didn't care. The sun was already starting to show over the nearby hills and I was grateful to be up and about.
We had arranged for breakfast at 8.00a.m. so we headed out to explore our surrounds in a bit more detail. Each of the five properties in our little hamlet seemed to have a fenced off garden but it was all set in what seemed to be common ground.
Arnes Lodge   Iceland
There were several small ponds and one very large one all within a very short walking distance of our front door ( the lodge is in the far background of that shot).
I only got as far as the large lake as I'd spotted the two Long-tailed Ducks from the previous evening had moved to this pool.
Arnes Lodge   Iceland
Mike on the other hand decided to continue on walking to survey the full potential of our new patch. It was a fair old circuit, perhaps 4kms in total, and it took you along the river bank of one of the best fishing rivers in Iceland before returning across a rugged moorland and a cultivated field. Lots of possibilities there but I was anxious to capture the Long-tailed Ducks which I'd only ever seen for the first time since arriving in Iceland.
I sat down at the far end of this small lake and waited for the action.
Arnes Lodge   Iceland
The sun hadn't reached my position below the bank ( nor the walk under the shadow of the hills that Mike was taking, another reason for not going with him!) so it was a good test of my new clothing. The temperature was sub-zero and I was sat in frost covered grass but I was as warm as toast with my many layers under my camouflaged outfit.
The Long-tailed Ducks slowly came to life.
Long-tailed Duck   Iceland
but stubbornly refused to leave the sunnier end of the water. Who could blame them!
A pair of Tufted Ducks who had been with them soon took flight and made off for the river.
Tufted Duck   Iceland
Tufties are undoubtedly the most common duck in Iceland, strange then that I think this was the only time I actually took a picture of one!
A Black-tailed Godwit landed very much closer and gave a great view of that often not seen black tail 
Black-tailed Godwit   Iceland
The sun was starting to warm me through, it was pure bliss sat there looking down on the golden water when suddenly a tiny little bird dropped in. 
Red-necked Phalarope!
Red-necked Phalarope    Iceland
Thankfully they had started to arrive in the north too so I'd get a chance to better my shots from Floi two days earlier.
I decided to move closer as it was about 40 metres away.
Red-necked Phalarope    Iceland
Phalaropes are the most confiding birds I have come across I think. They seem to have virtually no fear of human presence, the same couldn't be said of the ducks but possibly they have experienced being shot at with something more sinister than a camera.
In my new position I no longer had the sun behind me as I had for this shot.
Long-tailed Duck     Iceland
but at least they were a bit closer so a bit more detail could be had.
Long-tailed Duck     Iceland
After a while I decided to head back towards our lodge to see if Mike had found anything but before getting there I spotted another pair of Phalarope on the much smaller pond near to our lodge.
Red-necked Phalarope    Iceland
A feast of photography right outside our door.
Red-necked Phalarope    Iceland
With a bit of luck they might hang around for a while.
Red-necked Phalarope    Iceland
and give me lots of different lighting to try and avoid "blowing the whites" in my shots.
My only other experience of a Phalarope in circumstances like this was a Grey one on a tiny pond near home. I spent 4 days trying to capture the image I was after then, I didn't have that kind of time to spare on this one!
After having taken a good few shots I carried on back for breakfast. I'd done pretty well already and it was still before 8.00a.m. Mike had found some good opportunities too so we were both very happy with our surrounds but unfortunately Mike was experiencing difficulties with his main lens of choice... a 500mm Canon f4 lens. This was very bad news as it was virtually the start of our trip. Fortunately he had a back up 300mm f2.8 which together with a 2.0x TC and 1.6 crop body 7D2 make a very decent stand in. 
Breakfast was laid out on the table, a choice of cereals,muesli,toast, jam, cheese, meats, boiled eggs and fresh coffee. Great stuff. Val , who was to look after us, told us she had to take her young child to school but would return soon after to do the dishes etc. I told her there was no need, in fact if she showed me how everything worked and where to find things we would sort our own breakfast so we weren't tied to a time.
That arrangement suited us all. We really had dropped on our feet at this place. 
One last thing from Val, she said that the two rooms we were occupying were to get new beds so did we mind each changing rooms for one of the en-suite doubles. There would be no extra charge.
Things were getting better all the time.
A 9 bedroomed lodge all to ourselves and with two rooms between us I had no chance of hearing Mike rattling his coat hangers in the morning either !
Good job I had an alarm then!!!!


  1. Well David,all the waiting,anticipation of the weather conditions,meticulous planning definately seems to have been worthwhile.
    Really enjoying your account of day by day and of course your images!Looking forward to more!!

  2. Thanks Paul. Your recommendation was one of the reasons I went!