The Spitfires of Flatey

The night we stayed on Flatey Island (Iceland) we took a stroll around the island after dinner, stumbling on Eider’ nests and enjoying the tranquility of the place. However, some paths on the Island are more dangerous than others, with squadrons of spitfires ready to dive in and defend their prized territories.

Einar is the man we have to thank for calling these territorial birds the ‘spitfires of the sky’. He has been coming to the island for 25 years and was once again having a barbecue on the beach with friends by the side of an old wooden wreck. Earlier that day Einar had been mowing the graveyard – his Mother’s family hailed from the island.

He offered me a beer as he spoke of his admiration for the Arctic Tern, a delicate looking bird that flies from here to South Africa and the Antarctic for the winter. Its aerial antics and ability to dive bomb unsuspecting targets earning the bird the ‘spitfire’ title.

Flatey Spitfire
Flatey Spitfire

He spoke of the other world of Flatey when compared to Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, allowing  him to rest, unwind and get back in touch with nature. Of course Reykjavik has just c.120,000 people, so imagine how someone must feel coming from London, New York, Tokyo or Cork (😉)? A girl in the group then guided me to spot where she had found a nest of the Eider duck complete with large eggs. Pointing at it with excitement she put her fingers to her lips so that I would act accordingly. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I’d been tripping up over the nests on my way around the island.

It was time to head back across the field to the church before taking the track down to the old harbour. Unfortunately this meant running the gauntlet of attacks from the resident spitfires as they warned me not to come any closer – the trouble is I had no idea as to exactly where the nests lay and the path was indistinct to say the least.

Thank you Einar for sharing your time and tales of the island.


23 thoughts on “The Spitfires of Flatey

  1. Excellent shot!! and i enjoyed reading the tale as well … especially that you were kind to not spoil the girl’s excitement over showing you the nest!


    1. Well we didn’t stand on any, but occasionally you suddenly see the female bird take off a foot or so away from you. It wasn’t an Eider, but there was one bird that made its nest on the path, complete with 3 or 4 eggs. Reminded me of being in the Galapagos. 🍀


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