After the stunning views of the ice lined fjord yesterday, this morning’s mooring found us next to a much bleaker shoreline in a longer and wider fjord, with low cloud covering the peaks. While the temperature was a little warmer at 6oC, there was something of a swell as we boarded the zodiac for a morning walk. This time, the scouts had set up a perimeter of safety, allowing the whole group to wander within it at will. We were bounded on the landward side by some steep, scree covered slopes, with the sounds of Kittiwakes on the ledges, but the hoped for Little Auk colony had left already. I also kept an eye out for Arctic Fox, but without any luck. We completed a two hour clockwise circuit, which followed the stony shore to larger boulders at the end, then through moss and bog to the other end of the perimeter. Of huge interest was a group of 9 Reindeer feeding totally unconcerned in the centre of the rambling tourists. Not quite as nonchalant were a pair of Arctic Skuas with a well grown but still immature chick, which disappointingly failed to attack any of the walkers who often seemed to be approaching too close. Along the shoreline were small numbers of Purple Sandpipers, with the odd Glaucous Gull perched around. Overhead, two groups of Barnacle & separate Pink-footed Geese flew over. Near to the end of the walk, amongst the larger boulders, a few Snow Buntings were flying and fro.
The post lunch period found us on the opposite side of the fjord for a “mini walk”, with not even enough time to take off our life jackets. The idea was to have a short walk on the opposite shore of the fjord to the morning, and this was supposed to be a historic jaunt. A couple of huts and masses of old beluga bones later, and we conducted the walk in no time. There was predictably little to see wildlife wise on this short stroll, although a few Purple Sandpipers were on the shore, and two Reindeer in the distance. As we turned back towards the zodiacs, a Bearded Seal popped its head up in the sea just in front of the landing site.
We left here to sail to the head of the fjord, where a rather impressive, and apparently fast travelling, glacier was to be seen. The waters here were brown with the silt from the base, and the captain reported only 7 metres of distance from the keel to the bottom, even though the charts suggested this should be more than 30 metres. Also, the distance charts showed the ice to be 10 miles away, when it was in reality only 1 mile. Both were indicative of the speed of movement of the glacier since the last survey two years ago. The wind had picked up again as we turned the ship back to down the fjord, but some birds did pass by on our travels, notably Ivory Gull, Red-throated Diver, Barnacle Goose, and an Arctic Skua chasing a Kittiwake.