Tag Archives: Iceland

Seljalandsfoss

I know it’s been over a month since I came home from the the land of fire and ice, but here are a few more pictures from the wonderful land of Iceland.  In this case it of the waterfalls around the area of Seljalandsfoss.  This particularly wonderful foss is on the main round south-east before you get to Vik.  It drops about 60m from the volcanic cliffs above and has calved out a plunge pool and has a fantastic undercut rock shelter that allows visitors to walk behind the falls (though I would say to watch your step as the patch can be wet and slippery – and when the weather is as windy as it was on our trip the spray will soak you).

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DSCN2634DSCN2623DSCN2639About 500m along the cliffs to the northwest of Seljalandsfoss is the hidden waterfall Gljúfrafoss.  This is worth having a look at, though your feet will get wet as you have to walk along the stream to get into the cave.  With Gljúfrafoss you have a waterfall that has cut back into the cliffs and you have to do a bit of exploring to see this beautiful foss.

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Icelandic Birds

I’ll be getting back to the geographical stuff soon, but here’s something a little different.  In addition to geology I also enjoy wildlife, in particular birds (must be the dinosaur connection).  Whilst in Iceland I managed to get a few pictures, some decent others not so…have you got any idea how difficult it is to photograph a Puffin!  Damn things just don’t stay still long enough.  This is the best I could do…

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Though they were a little easier to do as a group.

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So those are my Puffin (Fratercula arctica) pictures.  A little better was this picture of a Guillemot (Uria aalge)

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In the cliffs around Skógafoss Fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) nest precariously on the rocks.

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Oystercatchers (Haematopus ostralegus) and Harlequin Ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) can also be found.

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At Jökulsárlón I did find it a little surreal to see ducks, in this case Eiders (Somateria mollissima) swimming around the icebergs.  I know they prefer colder climates and being out at sea, but it still made me chuckle.

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I rather fond of my Redwing (Turdus iliacus) picture.  I got few good shots but this one is my favourite.

The Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) is a regular sight around Skaftafell though they do carry feeding and making their trilling sound all through the sunlit night…lovely birds, but a little less so at 2am 😉 I did find this particular individual on its nest.  So well camouflaged that I never would have seen it if it hadn’t made a hell of a noise landing.

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For those twitchers reading this you may have noticed that the feature image was of the Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus).  This bird is particularly hard to see in the UK…basically you have to go to highest peaks in Scotland to have any hope, so you can imagine how excited I was to the guy at the top of the blog post.  He’d just seen off a rival and was looking pretty pleased with himself sitting on the little hillock.  That however was not my closest encounter.  The next morning this little chap sat on a fence post less than 2m from me a posed for pictures.

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As you could guess I got a little excited.  It’s such an amazing feeling when a wild animal chooses to spend time with you.  To close I want to use a picture of this same Ptarmigan sitting in the middle of the road next to Skaftafell.

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Jökulsárlón

As promised, here is another post from my Iceland trip.  This time it’s of Jökulsárlón.  To be honest I don’t know why this place isn’t better known.  For me I think it’s one of the natural crown jewels of Europe, nevermind of Iceland.  Basically Jökulsárlón is a semi-tidal lagoon on the south-east coast of Iceland and formed in the 1930’s by the retreat of Breiðamerkurjökul.  Breiðamerkurjökul’s moraines formed the edge of the lagoon and there is a small tidal river connecting the lagoon to the sea.  But what for me makes this place so special are the icebergs.  Breiðamerkurjökul carves the icebergs which then float around in the lagoon, slowly melting.  Some of them do make it down the small river floating out to the sea, but also being pushed back by the tide and landing on the beach forming yet more amazing ice blocks on the black sand.  OK so that’s enough of me talking lets have some pictures.

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I think the one above looks a bit like a seal’s head.

DSCN3065The pictures really don’t do this place justice.  Maybe I just don’t get out enough but this is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited.  I probably will never get to go to Antarctica or the high Arctic, but this is pretty close.  This is one place that should be on a lot of peoples’ bucket lists and I’m glad to have ticked it off mine.

 

Iceland Trip

At the beginning of June I was fortunate enough to go on another trip outside of my home country, and this time to a place I have long wanted to visit, that geogeek’s paradise known as Iceland.  It has been a dream I’d wanted to fulfill for a few years now and it has finally gone ahead.  Over the next few days I’ll be writing more post about the trip.  I went there with 2 friends and spent a total of a week camping, walking, driving and (surprise, surprise) taking hundreds of pictures.  For a general overview we landed at Keflavik early in the morning (seriously why does it seem that airlines only do flights that require you to get up at 3am?).  We picked up our hire car, drove to Reykjavik to pick up some food and then spent the next few hours driving along the south coast to the campsite at Skaftafell, at the south end of Vatnajökull.  We spend 3 nights there, and then drove back to Reykjavik where we spent the last 4 nights of the week.

I can’t speak for the north of the country which we didn’t visit, but the south is a beautiful mix of old lava fields, post-glacial moraines and what can only be described as a peri-glacial cold desert.  This ‘desert’ covers large parts of the south coast where areas of black sand and rubble are common and people are not.  These have formed mostly as a mixture of lava flows, glacial deposition and jökulhlaups.

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DSCN2779It even comes with its own dust clouds when the wind is strong.

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This is just the first part of my write ups, so look forward to more about Vatnajökull, Skaftafell, Jökulsárlón amongst other places.