Monday, 23 August 2010

Arctic Adventure - 11

Wednesday 11th August 2010

All my Arctic pictures are here.

My pictures at the July 14th Glacier are here.

Jan on the beach with the July 14th Glacier in the background.

Our success in spotting Polar Bears meant that the number of shore visits was rather less than originally intended. On the day before the cruise ended, we made a shore visit uninterrupted by Polar Bears at the July 14th Glacier. This glacier was named by Prince Albert I of Monaco and named after the date of its discovery in honour of Bastille Day in France.

The Zodiacs landed us on a flat beach with the option of a level walk along the beach to the left for a spot of bird watching or a walk along the beach to the right followed by a hike up the rocks bordering the glacier for views from the top of the glacier.

Of course, I elected to hike up the rocks. The expedition staff had surveyed a route through the rocks and marked it with a series of flags. It was quite a tough climb but well worth the effort. The plateau at the top of the glacier represented the limit of our wandering, so fairly soon I was descending again. The gesturing of one of the staff caught my attention and, following his pointed I had a wonderful sighting of an Arctic Fox as he descended from the glacier and without haste made his way across my field of view to the beach and along the shoreline. He was in his summer coat of two-tone grey (the fur is white only during winter) and a handsome fellow.

One of the Zodiacs was picking up a couple of passengers from the shore near the base of the glacier and I accepted the offer of a lift back to the landing point. We had really close sightings of a pair of barnacle geese strolling unconcernedly along the beach.

I disembarked at the landing point and there was time to walk to the group of birdwatchers who'd been watching another arctic fox on the hillside. This fox had dark brown fur but was much further away than my earlier sighting. The sun shone and everybody was a little sorry, I think, when the time came for us all to return to the ship.

We continued sailing south until we came to the fjord leading to Longyearbyen where we docked in the early evening. One more night on board and then we would leave the ship and most of the passengers would catch the afternoon flight from Longyearbyen Airport back to Oslo before going our separate ways.