Once more we had not gone too far in the 'campervan' before we came across our first bird, stood in the road, a Ptarmigan. It moved to the verge and crouched low in amongst the multi-coloured short vegetation. These birds must feel fairly vulnerable when they are are still in their winter whites with no snow to conceal them from the watchful eyes of Gyr Falcon.
We traveled on our clockwise circuit seeing several more Ptarmigan but too distant for photographs, the birds standing out very obviously against the dark volcanic rocks. Around the north-west side of the lake we came across another bird close to the road. This one was perched relatively high up and to avoid photographing against a flat white sky we both ended up standing on the door sills to give some elevation and get the angle for a better coloured background of a volcanic mound behind.
After a good breakfast including Steve topping up his cod liver oil levels, we headed back out but didn't get far. About 20m to be precise as there was a Snipe feeding along the top of a grass embankment on the edge of the hotel car park. Its raised position giving the appearance of photographing the bird at ground level. The overhead cloud was starting to break up.
Not bad for morning's work as it was close to midday now. The warm still air had encouraged a small explosion of non-biting midges from the lake. A hint of what could happen if the conditions had not been so cold. I can imagine 'Midge Lake' thoroughly deserves its name at certain times of year.
I think this is one of the days when we forgot to have lunch as we were so absorbed in the photography. This had a few times over the trip and we would suddenly realise we were starving around 5pm. Once again we hit the Myvatn circuit. We stopped off by a lake at a small nature reserve area on the east bank. As we made our way down to the lake, clouds of flies erupted from the grass. The dense swarms producing an audible humming in the air. We didn't stop there long and carried on to the River Laxa bridge. It was clouding up again and I was starting to wonder if I would actually ever get some Harlequin Duck in some sunlight. We stopped a while and took some photos before moving on once more with a view to returning when the distant blue sky had made its way over.
We headed back towards the Hotel and decided to try a large slightly raised isolated lake immediately to the west known as Stakholstjorn. This place had a very strange landscape of mini volcanic pseudocraters. An Arctic Tern on a post posed for us at the start of the footpath. These terns were very common in Iceland but strangely this is one of the very few photographs I took of them during the whole trip.
We went our separate ways once more with Steve heading off to a small pool at the very far end and I decided to hang back for a Long-tailed Duck.
Moving on around the lake, I saw two large black birds at distance and then heard that eerie haunting wail of the Great Northern Diver which echoed around the weird landscape. Such a beautiful evocative sound. One of the birds only appeared close momentarily before diving and resurfacing a long way away.
Walking past numerous Phalarope, a pair of whistling Wigeon caught my eye and ear next as I continued my walk around this large lake.
While nearby several Whooper Swans were chasing each other about. The heads and bodies dis-coloured orange by the iron rich waters.
The bird above had a Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust ring and it is ironic to think that this swan may appear back in England in the winter at Martin Mere which is fairly close to my home. Meanwhile at the other end of the lake Steve was getting some stunning images of Slavonian Grebe on the small pool. I decided to spend some time with a pair of these birds on the main lake that were hunting sticklebacks in the margins.
As you can see by this point the sun had finally reappeared, it was time to return to the River Laxa where we would finish our day by its rushing waters in some wonderful evening sunlight. Yes, finally some Harlequin Ducks in the sun.
It felt like we had squeezed a day and half into one but a very memorable one with a great variety of beautiful birds in such a stunning location. Myvatn had revealed its avian treasures.
That night we went for Pizza and the forecast was not looking good for another day at Myvatn so we would be departing in the morning and heading northwards to try and keep with some better weather.