When the Lóa Arrives, Spring is Here!

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As the days get longer and the nights get shorter, usually, temperatures usually (but not always) come up too. We have had an unusually short winter in Iceland this year, shortly followed up by a record snowfall, swiftly to return to our non-existent winter again. And then there was snow again.  Just another day in Iceland. 

Harbinger of Spring

All of this means that winter is ebbing away, and spring is on our doorstep. The traditional folkloric and historical benchmark for the arrival of Spring in Iceland has long been said to be a harbinger of Spring; when the Lóa, or European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria) arrives, Spring is here. Indeed the species element of the taxonomy, apricaria, means “to bask in the sun” in latin. The Lóa has an IUCN classification of “least concern".

In 2017, on March 27th, the Lóa arrived. Here is the news report about it. This is all taken quite seriously over here in Iceland. 

The story of the arrival of the Lóa in Iceland has a somewhat superstitious feel to it. However, it clearly is co-incidence that the Lóa arrives with spring any more than other migratory birds or waterfowl also come with the warmer temperatures later in the year, including the puffins. The significance of the Lóa is that it is one of the first. Even with our advanced technology, the animals know better than us; intuitively, at least. 

Male and Female European Golden Plover (Lóa)
Photo: Over The Tree Line

Male and Female European Golden Plover (Lóa)

A New Season, A New Time

The spring air fills us with a sense of new adventure and with the new possibilities.  New regions of the country open up as the spring and summer progress, and it’s all ours for taking! As you travel around Iceland, you will likely see the Lóa in Iceland foraging, especially around lakes such as Mývatn up in the north. try and say hi before it flies away; or when you see them, remember what they mean. 

The significance of the arrival of spring is that the long, cold  and dark winter is finally behind us, at least October when the darkness begins to creep in. The air smells different, there are incredible colours and textures in the landscape, it’s a wonderful time to be in Iceland. 

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