Watch this audio slideshow of a fox feasting on a golden plover nest in the Icelandic highlands last summer. The Arctic Fox is the only native land mammal to Iceland. Foxes are good hunters. They feed on ptarmigans and various other birds, eggs and chicks. They are even known to attack lambs.
Photos by Hallgrímur Egilsson, narration by Eygló Svala Arnarsdóttir – [email protected].
Click here to download the slideshow.
“When you travel the country, and especially in the highlands, keep your eyes open because otherwise you might miss an interesting encounter with nature,” the photographer, Hallgrímur Egilsson says.
“These pictures were taken when I traveled across the Kjölur highland route at the end of July when I suddenly looked out the window and noticed a fox.”
“At first I wasn’t sure that it was a fox, but I got out of the car, took my camera with me and chased it with a 300 mm lens, but kept a proper distance.”
“Indeed it was a fox. Soon it spotted a golden plover and found its nest. It ate the chicks and the mother had to watch it from afar,” he describes.
The Arctic Fox is a small fox native to Arctic regions of the northern hemisphere and is common throughout the Arctic tundra biome.
It is the only native land mammal to Iceland. It came to the isolated North Atlantic island at the end of the last ice age, walking over the frozen sea.
The Arctic Fox has such keen hearing that it can precisely locate the position of prey under the snow. When it finds prey, it pounces and punches through the snow to catch its victim.
Its fur changes color with the seasons: in the winter it is white to blend in with snow, while in the summer months it changes to brown.
Most Icelandic foxes have a brown shade all year but others are grayish brown in summer and white in the winter. The species is not pure bred in all parts of the country as foxes have escaped from fox farms and mixed with the native species.
Foxes can be found all around the country but they are most common in the north and west and least common in the south.
Foxes live in burrows, most often in a scree where they give birth to their cubs. The burrow usually has more than one opening.
Grown foxes are between 40 and 60 cm long excluding the tail and weigh two to seven kilos. They have between four and ten cubs per year.
Foxes have a varied diet. Along the seaside they feed on seabirds, shellfish and seal carcasses and even catch lumpsucker and baby seals.
Foxes are good hunters and the highland foxes feed on ptarmigans in the winter and various other birds in summer, including the eggs and chicks. They are also known to attack lambs.
Kjölur is a highland road in Iceland. It is the second longest of the roads through the highlands and takes about five hours to traverse by car.
The road begins in the south of Iceland near Haukadalur and behind the Gullfoss waterfall, ending in the north near Blönduós. The road traverses the interior between two glaciers, Langjökull and Hofsjökull.
At the northern end of the Kjölur road, near the headwaters of the Blanda river, the hot springs of Hveravellir provide a warm oasis.
Not far from Hveravellir, the Kerlingarfjöll, a beautiful volcanic mountain range, is situated to the north-east of the Kjölur road. These photos were taken near Kerlingarfjöll.