Iceland – Grey Phalaropes

Although the bird species list is fairly low in Iceland, what it offers in terms of Arctic breeding birds is unparalleled in Europe. Seeing breeding Grey Phalaropes was one of many motivations behind this trip. The images below are from Flatey Island, a small chunk of land in-between the Snaefellsness peninsular and the Western Fjords region in the NW of the country. The island is full of Red-necked Phalarope, breeding Eider, Arctic Tern and waders. Most of the island is closed during the breeding season and that included the area where the Grey Phalaropes breed so getting close to them can be tricky. At first views weren’t great, with a single bird on the sea and several birds seen distantly in flight… but they got better.

_MG_7608Above was the best views we had for the first 3/4hrs, we thought we’d have to make do with that.


Then things got a bit better with a male feeding close to the shore.


A german guy who’d been on the island for 2 days didn’t give us much hope as he recounted the females were very reluctant to allow close approach compared to the males… then it all got ridiculous!


A bright female flew in to join, what appeared to be her mate. It was a surprise to see how much bigger the females are when compared to the dowdy males.

_MG_7882 copy

Amazing views, basically a tick in this plumage.

_MG_7870 copy

She frequently saw off other males if they got too close, very odd to see the roles reversed in appearance and behaviour.

_MG_7824 copy

_MG_7795 copy

_MG_7786 copy


It almost appears Godwit like at times.

_MG_7892 copy

The North American name of Red Phalarope seems more appropriate then Grey Phalarope when in Iceland!

_MG_7934 copy


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s