Nevertheless, illegal hunting does take place in Iceland as this picture of Whooper Swans shot in Iceland graphically shows.
A study of Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus) has been carried out by taking X-rays of live birds overwintering in the UK. The study showed that shot-in pellets occurred in 13.2 – 14.9% of all Whooper Swans. The likelihood of a bird having been shot increased with its age.
The study also publishes the cause of death of 361 of 962 ringed Whooper Swans found dead since 1980. Of those which had been shot, 20 had been shot in Iceland, five in the UK, two in Ireland and one in France.
Yesterday morning we at the Fuglavernd BirdLife office had a visit from an American tourist. He wanted to spend the day in Reykjavík and at the same time do some good. His idea was giving people the opportunity to have their photo taken with a human puffin for a small donation.
Later in the day, he came back with the donations collected and sent us this fun picture. We highly appreciate this wonderful gesture and the support.
At the end of September, Hólmfríður Arnardóttir General Manager of Fuglavernd BirdLife Iceland, attended a meeting with BirdLife International. BirdLife International is the oldest conservation organization in the world and has been operating since 1922. A total of 121 countries are members of BirdLife, one conservation organisation is a representative of each country and Fuglavernd is a representative of Iceland.
The purpose of the meeting is for BirdLife administrators and staff to exchange practical information and share experiences that differ between countries and cultures. BirdLife has six regions, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, BirdLife Africa, BirdLife America, BirdLife Asia, BirdLife Middle East and BirdLife Pacific, and more than 200 people participated in the meeting. Women within the BirdLife association are ever increasing, and a few of them were gathered for this photograph.
In the photo are:
1)Gui-Xi Young with BirdLife Europe, 2)Hólmfríður Arnardóttir General Manager of Fuglavernd BirdLife Iceland, 3) Sandra Jovanovic with Društvo za zaštitu i proučavanje ptica Srbije BirdLife Serbia, 4) Jovana Janjusevic with Czip BirdLife Montenegro, 5) Tuba Kilickarci with Doga BirdLife Turkey, 6) Natia Javakhishvili with Sabuko BirdLife Georgia, 7) Karoline Kalinowska-Wysocka with Otob BirdLife Poland and 8) Nigar Agayeva with Aos BirdLife Azerbaijan.
Overfishing, hunting and pollution are putting pressure on the birds, but climate change may prove to be the biggest challenge.
“The puffin is the most common bird in Iceland,” said Erpur Snaer Hansen, acting director of the South Iceland Nature Research Center. “It’s also the most hunted one.”
Dr. Hansen is working with Dr. Fayet, a junior research fellow at the University of Oxford who is from France, on her project to monitor the activities of four puffin colonies, two in Iceland and others in Wales and Norway. Since 2010, he also has conducted a census, a twice-yearly “puffin rally” in which he travels more than 3,100 miles around Iceland, visiting some 700 marked burrows in 12 colonies, counting eggs and chicks.
The temperature of waters around the country is governed by long-term cycles of what is known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation,
with periods of colder water alternating with warmer. Between the 1965-1995 cold cycle and the current warm cycle, Dr. Hansen said, winter temperature records show about one degree Celsius of additional warming — a seemingly small amount, but disastrous for the sand eels.
His theory, he said, is this: “If you increase temperatures one degree, you’re changing their growth rates and their ability to survive the winter,” he said.
Dr. Hansen’s puffin rallies show that 40 percent of the population of Icelandic puffin chicks is losing body mass over time, another bad sign.
When the adults can’t catch enough to feed themselves and the chicks, they make an instinctive Malthusian choice; the chicks starve.
Dr. Fayet called her quest “heartbreaking”: “You put your hand in the burrow and feel with your hand a little ball on the floor, but then you realize it’s cold, and not moving.”