EXPEDITION FIRE & ICE VOYAGE 7214 DAY 2
Day 2 - June 14, 2012 - Grundarfjordur, Iceland
By Luciano “Luqui” Bernacchi, Birder, Glacier Guide
Co-ordinates: N 64º55'25", W 023º16'13"
Weather: Sunny, very pleasant weather.
Air Temperature: 9ºC
Pressure: 1015 hPa
Wind: No wind
Morning started and the Silver Explorer was docked at Grundarfjordur. After breakfast I quickly joined the Expedition staff by the buses to meet the local guide who was there to take us on a full day tour around the whole Peninsula known as Snaefellsnes. I knew the area from a previous trip. I was hoping the weather this time was going to be perfect, and indeed it was.
Three buses departed and I was assigned to bus number three together with biologist Robin Aiello from the Expedition Staff. We headed west, along the northern coast, and as soon as we started I was happy to see many species of birds. The day would later prove very interesting from the birding side of it, and I was soon pointing out various species to our guests.
The scenery is typically Icelandic, with mountains, hills, lava fields, scattered farms, sea-cliffs, and big open spaces. The first stop was at a very beautiful pebble beach called Djupalonssandur, Fulmars and various species of gulls were present, as well as an old ship- wreck, and scenic rugged coastline.
As the tour continued the dominating feature of the landscape became the Snaefellsjokull glacier. This 12 square kilometre glacier is small, but the area and the peak are supposed to have special energy.
I continued looking at the various small fishing villages and settlements, and we later got to Arnastapi, a place I knew would be great for birds. There I led a group of guests for a great, short walk. We saw nesting Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Arctic Terns, all busy with the start of their breeding seasons. A number of other interesting species were also spotted; Red necked Pahalaropes, Shags, Tufted ducks, Harlequin Ducks, and many more.
The coastline has fine examples of basalt columns, and our Expedition staff Geologist Juan Carlos Restrepo offered some interesting information about them. At the same time I was busy pointing out birds. The tour was great and I heard good comments from many a guest. We still had a while to go. A few more stops still awaited before lunch, including an old historical church at Budir.
The three buses met at Stykkisholmur for lunch, I relaxed and enjoyed the meal. The day was unfolding very nicely, and the weather was particularly nice and warm for this part of the world. I asked our guests to board the buses as we had to make our way towards our final stop and activity before returning, the visit to the shark farm at Bjarnarhofn.
This farm has been in the same family for four hundred years. They have a small museum, and they still hunt and prepare shark meat. Greenlandic sharks are the ones they fish every now and then and their meat is cured in the traditional way, I listened carefully to the explanations of this complicated and lengthy process, as they need to carefully follow all of the steps involved. Iceland’s famous shark man, Hildibrandur of Bjarnarhofn was there in person to explain the various details, while a family member translated for us.
It had been a great tour, and it was time to head back to the Silver Explorer, for our briefing for tomorrow, daily Recap, and sail away, and of course our Captain’s Welcome cocktail party. During recap, I shared some information about some birds we had seen, and the evening went smoothly onto the cocktail party, where the Captain introduced himself and some of his senior officers. As usual the Restaurant offered a wonderful dinner, and perfect ending for a memorable day at 64 degrees north.
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