The first golden plovers were spotted near the fishing village of Höfn in Southeast Iceland on Sunday, March 15, RÚV reports. The plover is traditionally thought to herald the arrival of spring in Iceland. A birder outside of Höfn reported hearing the golden plover’s melancholy and melodic high-pitched trill on Saturday, but couldn’t see the bird. He went back out on Sunday, however, and was able to spot the springtime fowl, making the season’s arrival official in Iceland.
“Lóan er komin að kveða burt snjóinn,” begins Páll Ólafsson‘s 19th-century ode to the bird: ‘The golden plover has arrived to sing away the snow.’ The poem became a popular folk song and its refrain has inspired numerous versions, from more traditional renditions to (much looser) punk adaptations.
The golden plover’s average arrival date in Iceland is March 23, so this year’s spotting is significantly ahead of the curve. It arrived late for the last three years running: in both 2019 and 2018, it arrived on March 28th; in 2017, on March 27th.