Monday, 30 August 2010

Iceland - Day 7

Sunday 25th July

Well this was it, today we were starting our trip back south. Nine of us were to head for Akureyi and Ian and Elspeth were going to spend a few more days driving down the east side back to Reykjavik.

After breakfast, Sula and I took a last walk around the shoreline in front of the hotel. Another sunny morning and hardly a ripple on the water. Far out on the lake, a Great Northern Diver was calling and we could even hear the Whooper Swans calling on the other side of the lake which was miles away. The Slavonian Grebes were still around although again today they were a little further out. I don't think it was due to walkers as most days people walked the path and the birds weren't bothered by them.

 Slavonian Grebe

A little further along, we came across a pair of Whooper Swans with one cygnet. As we approached, they moved out to a distance where they felt safe and then continued to feed. The only estimate of breeding numbers in Iceland I have was for around 1986,  the number of pairs then were between 1500 and 2500. I wonder how many of these birds winter on Shetland ?

Whooper Swan and cygnet

Sula (my eldest) has already got the bug and loves taking pictures. Firstly with a very cheap digital camera and now with a better quality one. There are times when we go out that she uses my 40D - albeit under close supervision ! Today was one of those days and so she tried the 40D with the 500 - on the tripod of course! I'm glad to see that she's already developing 'an eye' for picture taking, when she puts her mind to it. When going through the images from Iceland, I was starting to think that the sensor was covered in dust spots, sometimes they were there sometimes not. I felt rather foolish when it dawned on me it was the dreaded Blackflies again.

A little further on, we came across a family of Red-breasted Mergansers. Again like the Whoopers, they moved out a little but came back in when we'd walked past. Time wasn't on our side today so we had to make the most of what was within distance as we walked along the path rather than being able to sit and wait.

Red-breasted Merganser

Returning back, it was time to pack the car and say goodbye to the hotel at Rekyahlid; it had been a fantastic place to stay and I'd love to go back there some day. On the journey back to Akureyri, we stopped once again at the waterfalls at Godafoss. This time we walked along the opposite side of the falls to get a different perspective.

 On the road again, we were nearing Akureyri. We decide to turn off and go and take a look at the 'turf farm' at Laufas. When I say 'turf farm', it is not a farm that produces turf, but rather farm buildings that are constructed out of turf. The large turf farm house was built between 1866 and 1870, but there are records of a church being there from 1047. The main frame work is of timber, with turf for the walls and roof. It was last occupied by a priest in 1936.

From the front

The back

Internal construction

The outside walls

Cutting the roof !

Time soon past and we had to head for the airport and drop off the car and check in etc. All of that went without a hitch and in what seemed like no time at all we were heading down the runway and leaving Akureyri behind. The first part of the flight was relatively clear of cloud and we had fine views down over the snow covered mountains as we headed south.

Arriving back in Reykjavik, it was a mad rush to get to the bus station for the journey over to Keflavik where we had a couple of rooms for the night. Thankfully Stuart had worked out the logistics of getting there from the bus station but as they were already at the station, we still had to find the station ! Fortunately for us, it wasn't that far to walk to but was still a bit frantic. As the flight the following day was early, we had to be up by four a.m. to allow us to leave at five. After a week of really nice weather, it had now turned cooler and was much cloudier with rain showers. Due to the early start, we turned in around 9.30pm.

Monday 26th July

Just minutes after 5am, the airport taxi took us too the airport for the first leg of our journey home. To say the flight back was uneventful would be a lie - as it was the day of Rona's birthday (my youngest). As we boarded, Catriona past one of the stewardesses a note - I didn't know what was on it, but had an idea. Around halfway through the flight the captain (whose name was Capt Bruce Dickinson) announced ' Good morning, I'd just like to say that we have a VIP on board today, her name is Rona Brookes and she is 8 today'. Rona crept under the seat with embarrassment ! Each time we travelled on a different mode of transport, we sang her happy birthday - taxi, plane, train, lift and bus ! Hopefully it was a birthday she won't forget in a hurry. For those who don't know (and we certainly didn't at the time) Capt Bruce Dickinson, is also the lead singer with the rock group Iron Maiden and in his 'spare' time, he is a commercial airline pilot - a man of many talents. On landing at Gatwick, Rona went and met him briefly in the cockpit.

Even though we were now back in the UK, it was going to a further two and half weeks before I'd be back up north again to Unst  - I was now looking forward to it ! We then had a week in Oxford and then I stayed on in the Cotswolds for a further ten days for a wedding.
Iceland was a fantastic trip and was everything I'd expected. As I said previously, it involved an awful lot of planning etc, so thanks again for Ian for organizing it and to Elspeth for wanting her birthday there in the first place.



WPATW said...

Enjoyed the Iceland series Rob. Thanks for sharing


robbieb said...

Thanks Martin, it was a fantastic place to visit.


Jason said...

quality trip Robbie, somewhere i keep meaning to go. Especially as i have free board over there!

robbieb said...

Cheers Jason, really is a nice place to go to.