John certainly got close to nature during his recent time in the Arctic – and today, he’s going to tell us about the last of the awesome sights he enjoyed before leaving the Russian archipelago of Franz Josef Land, a place you can also enjoy thanks to our wildlife travel specialists.
Saturday: 85% of Franz Josef Land is covered in ice – and this morning, we again looked out on the snow-clad landscape, albeit under grey skies. Over the last few days, we have seen amazing glaciers, but our trip out this morning really took the breath away.
We caught sight of a rugged, intimidating and purely magnificent glacier with a jagged wall, over 100 feet high, creaking and breaking and, as we moved along the front, the classic slope down to the sea. And all this under a brooding sky with the mist coming in, changing perspectives in seconds. Just when you think you have seen it all, nature still has the power to surprise…
Where did all of the ivory gulls go?
Later that morning, we were back off Alexandra Land and went out especially to see a rare nesting site of ivory gulls. This particular species does not migrate far and has a very limited distribution. It is also unusual in that it does not always return to the same nesting site each year. This was proved today; there were flocks of them here last year, apparently, but not one to be seen now!
Nevertheless, we did have the bonus of a big fat walrus posing for us on an ice floe, just a few yards away, with that beautiful glacial background. That was it – our last excursion in Franz Josef Land. We were then on our way back to the Russian military station where the officials would return on board to process our exit from the country.
That really was that for Wednesday. Steaming (figuratively) south, we expected to be off Kvitøya in northeast Svalbard the following morning. However, before that, there was – I’m afraid – another big night in the bar…