Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Birds

Spring has formally arrived: The golden plover has returned from its winter migration

By Staff

  • The harbinger of spring According to Icelandic tradition the European golden plover is considered to announce the beginning of spring. Photo/GVA

The first migratory European golden plovers of this spring have been spotted in Iceland, announcing the official beginning of spring. The Bird Watching Association of South West Iceland announced on its facebook page that the birds were spotted flying in from the sea at the small forest of Einarslundur near the village of Höfn in South East Iceland early this morning. The forest is a popular stopping point for migratory birds returning to Iceland after their winter stay at more southerly and warmer latitudes.

Singing away the snow
According to Icelandic tradition the arrival of the golden plover is considered to be the harbinger of spring and summer: When the bird arrives winter must be on its way. The plover is thus nicknamed "The Spring Herald". A popular 19th century poem states that the Plover arrives to "sing away the snow".

The golden plover spends the winter in the British Isles and along the coasts of West Europe and North Africa. In the spring they migrate further north, with a large population spending the summer in Iceland. 

Unusually warm winter
The migratory plovers why returned this morning will join an unusually large group of plovers who spent the winter in Southern and South Western Iceland. The unseasonably warm weather this winter allowed these birds to skip the migration south this year.

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