About this site

About the history of my personal the Natural History of Iceland Site

This site, dedicated to Iceland's nature, was first setup in 1997. Ever since, the amount of information contained within this site has been increasing steadily . It is a large site now. To give you an idea of the development: version 4 (year 2001) consisted of 3500 files. The 17th version (year 2024) contains over 23521 files. Since the 5th version of the Natural History of Iceland site the url is www.iceland-nh.net. Before it had been my home page of my -then- internet provider. You can: () if you note mistakes in the content or note programming bugs. I will be most grateful.



Spring 1997
I was working as an advisor for a scientific library institution and a publisher on the future of scientific publishing on Internet. Getting to learn HTML-in one day - was but a side effect. In order to get some practice I designed a series of web pages on Iceland nature because I still had the photo's of my 1992 visit shelved and I already planned to visit Iceland that summer. The first version - a prototype on my hard disk was born.

Autumn 1997
After visiting Iceland summer 1997, I had a much more material and version 2 was published on my home page URL. This publication came about by appending "bit by bit" information and illustrations I had. My original intention was to build the site around the themes "bird and plant photography". Because I had some difficulty to make quick progress on these themes I added a section on landscape photography. Originally it was intended basically as an additional decoration. But when professor Ed Jackson contacted me with his decision that he wanted to put my site on his "best list" on Icelandic Landscape Photography and Paintings collection on his unique site of URL's I realized that I had to take the landscape photography theme very serious. Which I have done ever since!

Spring 1999
A third visit to Iceland took place in the May/June period. I came back with more material and version 3 was published.

Winter 1999/2000
Please understand, the publishing of versions is not a one-off event. Small changes and minor appending's to the site take place all the time after the introduction of a major new version. In the winter of 1999/2000 however, an important addition to version three was created by adding Java-based search programs for plants and birds.

Summer 2001
The fourth visit (three weeks stay). The material is intended to fuse into the version 4.

Autumn 2001
First publication of version 4. As stated above the whole setup of the site changed in order to give visitors easier and faster control over which sections of the site they want to open.

Late January/early February 2002
Finally I was satisfied enough with the version 4 that I decided to present the site to the Internet community by registering the site to the common search engines (like GOOGLE, etc.) and inform, those, who had expressed their interest previously, about the major update. The work is not at all finished though, updates will follow as the site is far from complete and - as I am human - mistakes have to be corrected. Also the search-facility to plant and bird species had to be updated.

April/May 2002
As I was not able to visit Iceland in 2002 I had time to rewrite basic code configurations for further expansion of this site.

May 2002 - March 2004
During this period nut much happened. A few persons added a couple of contributions to version 4. I did not have much time in further development of the site.

March 2004
Knowing that I was to visit Iceland in summer 2004, I took a major decision. The site was to move to a new URL (www.iceland-nh.net) and the design of the site needed to be reconstructed. The reason was that the popular Google search engine does not direct to framed sites but rather to the content files within the site. The redesign is now table-based using a few in-line frames.

March 2004 - Summer 2004
Thousands of files had to be rewritten........ The prototype of version 5 was born.
In the summer of 2004 I could visit Iceland again and brought home a lot of new material

Autumn 2004 winter 2004-2005
While rewriting the pages for version 5, I was already aware that a table-based lay-out was not the final solution. Already I had been experimenting with CSS. Version 6 was born the very same winter after version 5 appeared in the summer of 2004

2005: disaster
The camera system I used until then was an old (ancient maybe a better description) Minolta non-auto focus system. After heavy use in Australia, the Netherlands and Iceland it started to fall apart so much that new investment was necessary. At the time the digital revolution in photography showed clearly this was the future. My local photography store persuaded me into buying a Konika-Minolta Dynax 7D. Elsewhere I bought a Minolta 2/8-300mmAF minolta lens. The idea was to visit Iceland in 2006. In order to test the new camera system, I took a short holiday in November 2006 to an island off the north coast of the Netherlands. One rainy day was enough to cause an irreparable breakdown of this camera. Luckily it was very well insured. At the time Nikon presented the D200 camera and I was immediately interested. Given the fact that I had to completely reinvest in a new system the planned 2006 trip to Iceland had to be canceled.

2006 - may 2007
The new camera system based on the Nikon D200 was tested and showed to be a very fine camera indeed. It took some to acquire all the necessary additional accessory parts. In the meanwhile I had been scanning all my Iceland slides (and many others). When I started back in 1997 most people were using 14 inch screens (standard resolution of 640x480pixels) or 15 inch screens (800x600pixel resolution) with slow telephone-modems. Now, almost everyone uses 17 inch screens with a resolution of 1024x768 pixels or more and faster internet connections.
Version 7 was gradually introduced using larger photo's and introducing older material I had overlooked.

June 2007 I traveled once more to Iceland. I spent some time in Langanes and Húsey at the mouth of the Lagarfljót in order to photograph birds. Than I moved to the Akureyri region in order to photograph many plants but I also photographed the common gull (not so common on Iceland!) on the island of Hrísey. I also met the eminence grise of the Flora of Iceland research Horður Kristinsson who gave me many practical insights while I suffered a flue at the time. Thereafter I did the Skógar-Landmannalaugar hiking trip (south-north trip) and was flabbergasted by the many beautiful landscapes of Iceland. At last I visited the Snæfellsness region in order to photograph plant species bur a lucky chance also allowed me to "shoot" a couple of birds.

From winter 2007 to summer 2008 I upgraded the site to the version 8.0. I added all new entries of bird & plant species gathered in my 2007 trip and corrected a couple of mistakes in the search section. I also started to split the css-styles for the MS-Internet Explorer and other browsers like Firefox and Opera. The reason is that Microsoft's Internet Explorer interprets CSS styles differently (wrongly!) where other browsers interpret much more correctly. October 1, 2008 marks the end of the development of version 8.0. Later improvements were added in the versions 8.1, 8.2 and 8.3

between the version 8 and 10 the version 9.0 was uploaded containing only code improvements (2009/2010)

Summer 2011 I took a "botanical trip" to Iceland - concentrating on the floral-elements of the south-eastern coastal districts of Iceland. Many species were found/photographed
I also took a trip to the highlands north of the eastern part of the Vatnajokull glacier looking for highland floral elements as well as making landscape photo's

Winter 2011/2012 and spring 2012 I upgraded th site to the next version: 10.0 . All the new additional plant species photographed during the summer 2011 trip as well as improved photo's of species already included in the site were added to the site. More over, the many new added species demanded another listing presentation. The landscape photographs during the 2011 trip, alas still have to be added to the site.

April 2013 I took another trip to Iceland - this time to photograph the spring migration of birds using Iceland as an intermediate between the migration of birds from Africa or the British Isles towards the arctic regions of Greenland and northern Canada where their breeding grounds are. I managed to photograph all the migratory geese and wader species and was also able to get (much) better pictures of bird species for this site. I also photographed early floral elements like flowers of the crow-heather (Empetrum nigrum)

In the summer of 2013 I upgraded the site with the new material: version 11.0 was created.

Autumn 2014 and winter 2014/2015 I made "collections" of all the photo's taken during all my visits to Iceland in Adobe's "Lightroom". This work includes adding keywords to all the photo's. While working on this I discovered that I had omitted quite a few plant species within the site due to ignorance recognizing these specific species from photo's from earlier works. Especially new grass/sedges/rushes species were included on the site. After having introducing these species version 11.1 was finalized

Late winter 2014/2015 - early spring 2015 I embarked on a new presentation of the site which is also friendly to small screens like smart phones. On the 9th of may 2015 I uploaded the first version (version 12.0) which is smart phone-friendly for the home and bird pages as well as a number of smaller items (like foxes etc.)

Having upgraded the birds pages I set on to upgrade the plants pages starting autumn 2015. Knowing this was a much larger project (in comparison to the upgrade of the birds pages), I gave myself some time. Moreover I visited Iceland once again during the summer of 2016 with the specific objective to photograph plant species I had not observed during my earlier trips. Both the upgrade of my ealier plants pages to a small screen friendly version (smart phones) and the addition of new plant species became project/version 12.1 - This is still on-going and the plan is to finalize this version by april 2017. In due course the site will regularely be updated whenever improvements and/or new additions have been realized.

On may 18, 2017 the version 12.1 was finalized.
Not all goals were achieved: the sedges, grasses and waterplants sections/pages are not yet smart-phone friendly yet. All other plant-species pages though are! The two reasons I stopped here were (1) the upgrade of the sedges and grasses is a daunting task (many new species, re-think of reorganizing the logical structure of these sections) and (2) there are some very urgent other tasks. One item in particular that has been sceaming for attention to me for a few years is the "search" page of the bird and plant sections. These are based on ancient Java Applets. At the time they worked wonderfull! However as time passed browsers became more and more hostile to the Java applets. The source development of these applets stopped and disappeared from the net; as a result the applets were based on very old Java versions. Finally all main browsers blocked these application unless a user goes about to do a lot of adapting the safety settings, which is of course the last thing I want. For some time I had been looking for a replacement and that proved to be cumbersome. I was not interested in the products of Google (- site search) because it is inflexible and visually throws the search page outside the site. I believe Google has stopped this service now all together too.... Many other alternatives were either inadequate for the site (easy to develop but insufficient for searching the number of pages) or to complicated/expensive for me - as a non-commercial voluntary web-designer. In may 2017 I finally found a software package that suited my needs. This is the "Zoom" software by Wrensoft (see: http://www.wrensoft.com/index.html).

Future plans: Summer 2017 the new search pages will introduced on the site. This will be version 14.0 (I am skipping version 12+1 because I don't want to seduce disaster, though I am not superstitious....).
Further development on version 14: finalizing the extra-topic pages of the site.
Finishing the plant section (sedges, grasses and waterplants).

Version 14.0:
June 5 2017: a crude but fully functional search section was added to the site, defining version 14.0. This search section is based on the above mentioned "zoom" software from Wrensoft.

Version 14.1:
In september 2017 I finished the reconstruction - including many new species - of the Sedge pages.
I had noticed that some links within the the site were not intuitive enough for my users. This was most concerning for the opening of photo's from individual species-pages (both birds and plants). So summer and early autumn of 2017 were dedicated to improve this. By doing so I could also clean-up old codes. I also added the Icelandic names for plant species on the relevant pages which makes it now possible to search plant species with Icelandic names. This still has to be done for the bird pages. By october 2017 this version (including the new section on seges) came to a conclusion (version 14.1) Minor aspects that still have to be dealt with are the introduction of Icelandic names in the bird pages and finishing the upgrade on intuitivity for a few plant pages. A larger task still to be done is the upgrade of pages on grasses. This will be dealt with in future versions of the site.

Version 14.2:
In this upgrade of the 14.x versions a new description of the background information of the flora of Iceland was introduced with a new set of pages. It followed from lecture/introduction I gave on the Flora of Iceland for the Royal Dutch Nature Study Association is Assen, Netherlands. This is a huge improvement over the previous general background information page on Iceland's flora. It was finalized in November 2017.

In addition the old codes of the pages listed under the second top menu were updated and thus now also smart-phone friendly. This was finalized on December 20 2017.

Version 14.3:
Between december 20, 2017 and august 2018 minor improvements (corections) were uploaded.

Version 15.1
Over the past ten to fifteen years it nagged me that I had discarded all the time the landscape section. It had become hopelesly out-dated. Already before starting to upgrade the site to a nr 14 version I knew that after version 14.x a version 15 needed to be constructed with a a completely upgraded landscape section. During the spring and summer of 2018 I pondered how it should look like. I had lots of photo material but how to present it? In august 2018 I was able to upgrade the site with a photo section with slide shows and panoramic presentations. The old section is still present though. Another major improvement was the introduction of a new top menu section (which will in time be introduced on all pages) and the site-presentation on 3 different screen sizes (lets say large, medium and small screen sizes). Although version 14 had two different layouts for larger (desktops and laptops) screens, it became apparent that - with the growing interest among the public to smaller pads on the one hand and increasing sizes of smart phones - a medium version needed to be created (I hear ye all scream "responsive design" - the point is that the new development on this site is both responsive and has defined cut-off points leading to different presentation (with same content) on 3 main screensizes. Version 15.01 was uploaded halfway august 2018.

Version 15.2a
The major change between 15.1 and 15.2 is that background-pages on the landscapes of Iceland were reintroduced after having been thrown out some years ago because of its low quality. Also a couple of bugs were dealt with that were detrimental to pad-users. Broken links from the main menu were thrown out. This first upload for version 15.2 took place on march 24 2019.

Version 15.3
This version is basically a prelude to version 16.x. For all pages - except for the singular bird species data pages and the singular plant species data pages a the 3 screensized approach was finished. However, the singular bird/plant data pages is the bulk of this site. A first experimental attempt for a few bird pages started. The fundamental difference between these experimental pages and previous written pages was the introduction of grid-based designing. I was very happy with the result. By april 1, 2020 this version was uploaded.

Version 16.0
In april and early may 2020 both the English and the Dutch version pages on birds were rewritten using grid-based designing on 3 screen sizes. By early may 2020 all the bird pages were uploaded. I was extremely happy with the new appearance and the more logical design approach. Many early ugly html4 designing techniques from the past were improved to html5 specs. Having said this, many assisting files within a page (I-frames) are still in a html4 design. And the plant pages is about 3x that of the bird pages. Lots of work to be done still!

Version 16.1
December 1, 2021: Now all the plant pages have been updated to the new grid-based design making the site more appreciable to smaller pad users. Also the lay-out for smartphone-like small screens has been improved.

Version 16.2
December 23 (26), 2021: A major improvement in the way the internal links to different lists belonging to one general group of plants behave could be undertaken in a batch-run. This concerns the plant-section for desktop/laptop presentations. The batch-run was done on December 23 2021. The whole plant-species pages section was deleted in the early morning of boxing day and immediately replaced.

Version 17.0
In 2022 I spent three months on Iceland, manly focussed on plant photography. Obviously other elements of the natural history of Iceland had my attention. Due to the large amount of new species photogaphed I had upgraded the plant section by late summer 2023. The number of species presented grew with 53 new species from 330 in version 16.2 to 383 in 17.0. The bird section was augmented by january 2024. The files presenting the full pictures had all been corrected so as to respond better to screen sizes of th user.

Natural History of Iceland Site  in Dutch

Natural History of Iceland Site  in Dutch