Notes on the effects of volcanic eruption on migrant birds in Iceland

Written by Fuglavernd – BirdLife Iceland

J??hann ??li Hilmarsson, President of BirdLife Iceland, says that the volcanic eruption hasn???t had much effect on migrant birds. Eurasian Oystercatchers and Black-tailed Godwits quickly learned that there was plenty of food beneath the ash. The early phase of the eruption disturbed the local Northern Fulmars to some extent but they were quick to adapt. There were also concerns for the birds breeding in the areas most affected by the ash fall but the case of the Eurasian Oystercatcher in Fagradalur shows that all hope is not lost. Eurasian Oystercatchers favour areas with gravel or sand so the ash in fact expands the areas it can breed in. However, some birds are likely to abandon their attempts to breed this year or will try to find new, ash-free areas to nest in. As long as the volcano doesn???t erupt for all eternity, the overall effect on birds is likely to be limited!

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The ash from Eyjafjallaj??kull has clearly not prevented this Oystercatcher from starting a family this year. ?? Johann Oli Hilmarsson

The photograph shows an Eurasian Oystercatcher which laid two eggs in a pile of ash next to some farm buildings in Fagradalur, close to the village of V??k in southern Iceland. The ash from Eyjafjallaj??kull has clearly not prevented it from starting a family this year.

From an interview published in Morgunbladid 10.05.10

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