You know, in June I was in Iceland and came back with a bunch of photos. So, I’m selecting and editing many images at the moment. Yesterday, I stumbled over the above image of an arctic tern at the parking ground of Dyrhólaey near Vík í Mýrdal in southern Iceland. I have tons of images of these elegant birds. But, they are also very brave and quick-tempered. Their nests are simply on the ground, hidden between grass and they breed in big colonies. To defend their nests and their breed they start-up very easily to chase away the intruder.
At first, they fly to the intruder and stand above him in the sky crying and trying to expel him that way. If this behaviour does not help they start to attack the head of the intruder. While these attacks in the beginning are only mock attacks, they come nearer and nearer with each attack. In the end they will hit the head with their beaks.
I already knew this from my first trip in 2014 and how to behave correctly. But, when arriving in a not closed parking ground and being greeted by angry birds, you can’t evade. But, moving away calm but swiftly, they let you go unharmed because that was their goal. It seems to me from my , the alert distance is about 50 meters from the nest.
While on the roads, every now and then I spotted this traffic sign beside the road: “Attention, angry bird are going to attack you. Be prepared.” And they do! Definitely, they do. They even attack passing cars. In 2014 a couple of bird hit the car roof with the beaks.
As I said, the arctic terns are building their nest on the ground. So, it’s not easy to recognize a nesting ground. But, when your distance is too short, they will notify you. I even spotted a group of young adults (I guess, they were Icelanders), getting attacked while passing a breeding ground. But, instead of simply moving away one of them started to fight back. He flew his pullover to drive out the birds, but with no effect. They even got angrier and followed them further attacking the head of the young man with the pullover. The arctic terns are able to descide between people. Although, the group wasn’t far away from me, I was save. No bird came up to me, despite they had to pass me.