The egg collector of Ondverdanes

Ondverdanes is the name of the cliff on the outer most western tip of the peninsula Snśfellsnes, Iceland, and this is where I met with Jon on a blowy but sunny day in May 2008. I was there joyfully enjoying the birds and wildlife there in a civilized and political correct manner. He, as it occurred to me, was busy hunting, hunting for food, and occupied, like so many of his Icelandic predecessors, collecting eggs from wild fowl.

Jon is a genuine Icelandic egg collector.

Walking on the rocky cliffs edge, with the waves of the Atlantic Ocean more than 150 feet under him, he moved ahead at an amazing pace, as if he was walking a solid pavement in the outskirt of Reykjavik, and not balancing close to a deadly fall. The fatal consequence of one wrong step or one misjudged move.


I watched him do his thing, lean out, no holding, take a look, move another few steps, take another look down, clap his hands to make the birds on the ledges under him move, and possibly reveal their eggs, and several times I saw him lean out and lower his 30 feet pole, and pick up, eventually grab and hoist his catch and carefully land it in a bucket behind him. I watched Jon do 1000 feet of the coastline of Ondverdanes Birdscliff.
Jon is a skilled egg collector with 15 years of experience.
He mainly collects eggs from the Kittiwakes, but the bigger white and blue eggs from Guillemots and BrŁnnichís Guillemots seams to be of special interest. ( pictured at left )


He picks up all eggs within his reach, and if wind conditions had been a little better, he had ropes ready in the chunk of his car, solid stuff whereby he can reach further down the cliffs steep sides.

Steeling wild birds eggs is a, no can do, where I come from, and itís not only morals thatís an issue, it against the law, forbidden in Denmark, so obviously to my eyes, watching Jon in action, was a bit out of the ordinary and spectacular to say the least.

But Itís also history alive.

Since the age of settlement Jonís predecessors have been roped down these cliffs collecting eggs, to survive.

Jon collects his eggs, and has done so for 15 years, and as he told me, only to comply with his own private needs, and, in his own words, easily picks up, up to 400 eggs during an afternoons work.


Iím sure God created nature to support man, my problem is I donít think he had in mind it should provide him with a modern life income too.

But maybe Jon is just a very hungry man