Thursday, 1 August 2013

Iceland 2

Our second port of call in Iceland was Isafjordur.  Isafjordur itself is a tiny town which took us only a short time to wander around. 

 Yarnbombing even reaches these remote shores!

 Plants and flowers must have a very short growing season here but people care enough to put a few pots in their garden.

As Isafjordur was so small we took the opportunity to take a boat ride (had we not had enough of being on the water!?) to Vigur Island which lies about 20 minutes away.  
The island is about 2km long by 400 metres wide and is home to a wide variety of birdlife which is what visitors come to see.  The importance of the island is as a home and breeding ground to eider ducks whose down provides an income along with tourism for the family whose antecedents have lived on the island for about 200 hundred years.  Arctic terns also live here and are encouraged to nest as their aggressive tactics protect the eider families.  There are also over 80000 puffins nesting and guillemots also take advantage of island habitat.

We were guided round the island by one of the family and the flag sticks were our patented arctic tern deterrent.  After the hustle and bustle and drama of the previous day this idyllic island felt very nurturing despite its wildness.

We could understand the terns being so annoyed with our intrusion when I spotted a chick in the longer grass at the side of the path.  I was hoping that our disturbance didn't disrupt their breeding too much.

Sadly most of the puffins were sitting out on the water but I did manage to capture one sitting on a rock before our group scared him off,

The puffins were carrying beaksfull of fish so were probably feeding young too.  I was entranced watching them flying around us with their lovely red feet splayed out beneath them.  Sadly no picture of that.

My DH didn't quite get the hang of fending off the terns,

He wasn't trying to hit them, honest!

Just behind the homestead on the island is a 160 year old windmill that was in use until fairly recently,

The family that lived on this island for generations farmed the eider and farmed sheep, taking them across to the mainland for the summer pasture.  You can read about their history and see photos of their hard existence in one of the former farm buildings.

Today the eider are still farmed but tourism provides a large part of their living.  What charmed me was the grandchildren visiting while we were there and playing happily and freely as we all wandered about.  

2013 marks the 350th anniversary of the birth of Arni Magnusson, the manuscript collector.  To celebrate this occasion and the many documents that were collected and saved from oblivion by Arni exhibitons have been staged in 6 locations that are associated with specific manuscripts.  Vigur is one of the locations and while we were there a replica of the Vigur Book of Poetry was on display.

(Excuse the reflections, the photograph was taken through glass)

After some welcome refreshments in the farmhouse our visit to Vigur was too quickly over and it was time for the return trip to the Arcadia waiting for us backin Isafjordur harbour.
 This 200 year old boat was used to ferry animals to the mainland and can still be called upon if necessary today.


sharon young said...

Wow! What stunning scenery, the island looks an idyllic place but I bet it's bitter in the winter.
Great Arctic Turn defence they can be quite frightening when they fly at you.

Gina said...

Fabulous! Somewhere I would love to visit.

Heather said...

More wonderful photos and the video clearly illustrates the need to fend off the terns who are probably saying 'flipping tourists'!
I love the old manuscript - beautiful handwriting.

Maggi said...

Stunning Julie. Thank you for sharing your trip. Terns really are very territorial.

Gail Pierce said...

I love birds but those might have had me ducking for cover! can't blame them though.
lovely photos and now I have a better idea of that amazing country!