The bird life of Blanda and terns of my heart

Arctic terns and Iceland gulls on the Blanda sandbar from Kathleen Vaughan on Vimeo.

Blönduós is wonderfully full of birds at this time of year, many of them nesting along the Blanda River. A favourite of mine is the Arctic tern or Sterna paradisaea, the small black and white bird seen in abundance in this video. I love their quick darting ways and their capacity for long, long flight — they migrate from one pole to the other and are the planet’s longest distance travelers. In Icelandic, they’re called ‘kría’, the sound of their call. (In this video they see me as an intruder and are using their warning voice.) I’ve taken the tern as my mascot for Studio Re-Imagine (, the locus of the socially engaged art projects that form the core of my Concordia University Research Chair.

Also seen here are Iceland gulls, another bird found in abundance here at this vital, dynamic time of mid-summer.

The video ends with a shot of the red roofed, white stucco buildings of the Icelandic Textile Centre, home to our Iceland Field School, June 2018, and a year-round site for artists’ residencies, research and making (