Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag


Summer just around the corner: The Common Snipe has returned from its winter migration

By Staff

  • The Sound of Summer The drumming of the common snipe, called Hrossagaukur in Icelandic, is the defining sound of Icelandic summer. Photo/Bernard Dupont, Wikimedia, Creative Commons

Icelandic summer is made up of many things, including the midnight sun and the smell of wild arctic thyme. But in addition to the smells and visuals summer in Iceland has its distinctive sounds, including the symphony of birdsong, and one of the most distinctive contribution to the beautiful meoldy of Icelandic summer is the common snipe, or hrossagaukur as he is called in Icelandic.

The sound of summer
The drumming or bleating of the snipe is probably the most unieque sound you'll hear when hiking or just enjoying the quiet calm of the oudoors. The distinctive vibrating sound is not made vocally, but by the vibration of the tail feathers of the birds. The birds make the sound as part of their courtship ritual. Holding the tail feathers out at an angle to the body they make sudden rapid dives while flying, which causes the air to vibrate, creating the sound Icelanders associate with summer.

Read more: Spring has officially arrived: The cultural significance of the Golden Plover to Icelanders

According to the Icelandic Bird Watching Association the first common snipes arrived in South Iceland earlier this week, with large groups spotted in wetlands and pastures.

Pay attention and you should be able to spot these beautiful little birds. You certainly won´t miss their drumming if you know what you are listening for!

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