Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Hornbjarg seabird cliff and Reykjafjordur

And we roll on around the island of Iceland, clockwise. This morning we arrived at Hornbjarg seabird cliff. This is one of the biggest colonies of seabirds in Iceland with 100s of thousands of pairs of guillemots (Common and Brunnich's), Razorbills, Northern Fulmars and Black-legged Kittiwakes. We had two viewing options for the colony- either from Fram herself or from a hike up to the top of the almost 300 metre high cliffs. Either way, we got great views of the birds. From Fram, we saw many large flocks of guillemots (our Canadian and US readers will call them murres) flying in formation out to offshore feeding grounds. Here they feed mainly on sandeels and capelin- two small but energy-rich fishes. The light coloured kittiwakes and murres looked like a multitude of specks of sand on the cliff. The hike up on the cliff was strenuous but afforded great views. All through the visit our naturalists Sabine and John provided commentary out on deck and from the bridge.

As usual over lunch we repositioned to our afternoon destination of Reykjafjordur. The location is an abandoned farm where an extended family hosts small groups of travellers in the summer. It seemed like the whole family had arrived from different parts of Iceland to look after us. After all, they had never hosted a ship before, let alone 200 passengers! The area was rich in wildlife and landscapes. The human element was ably looked after by the very approachable family members who were keen to talk about their history at the location. It was a surprise to see large wood logs on the beach (there are very few trees in Iceland!) It turns out that they come from Siberia and get to Iceland with the ocean currents. The family showed us how they saw the logs and make use of them. A swimming pool built in 1938 was filled with 38 degree water and looked very inviting. The heat came from volcanic activity underground. Many of our passengers partook! The family hosted a super afternoon tea for us in one of the houses.

Hot water is never far below the surface in Iceland!

An old store house for vegetables and other foods over the winter

A female Red-necked Phalarope. The paler and smaller male was close by
A Common Seal - really interested in what was going on, on the beach!
A Ringed Plover feeding on flies in the kelp