Thursday, 5 July 2001

I photograph Ólafsvík at 1:30am & try the tölt

Iceland isn't quite the land of the midnight sun right now - the sun in theory sets just before midnight and disappears for about 4 hours. In practice it is barely below the horizon so it doesn't really get dark. Last night/this morning I went for a walk up to the waterfall above Ólafsvík and took a photo of the town at around 1:30am - the picture's a little bit blurred but amazing for the time of night.
This morning we went on another boat trip from Stykkishólmur but more for birds - no whales - then headed back to Reykjavik. My flight home isn't until tomorrow morning so I arranged to go horse-riding this afternoon. Some but not all Icelandic horses have a fifth gait, the tölt, so I specifically asked for such a mount. I'm not sure whether I did experience the tölt or not - it just felt as though my horse was trotting very fast and like I might fall off at any moment!

Wednesday, 4 July 2001

Update: I photographed a 'new' whale!

Today we saw more humpbacks and I got a good 'fluke' photograph. Our guide suggested that we should send any clear photos to the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalogue to identify the whale, so will do that when I get home.
Update: one of 'my' whales was previously unknown to the Catalogue! I kind of hoped it might get named after me (although names can't be gender-specific anyway, unless the presence of a calf strongly indicates that an adult is a female), but the name given to it wasn't very exciting - HWC#4522!

Tuesday, 3 July 2001

Stormy skies & rough seas - but whales too!

This morning the weather didn't look too promising but we set off for our first whale-watch. The sea was quite rough and some people were seasick, but we did see whales. There were a couple of blues but they didn't seem too keen on the boat and soon dived, only to reappear some way off.
We also saw quite a few humpbacks - these are quite blubbery, buoyant whales and need to raise their tail flukes into the air when they dive, which whale-watchers love! Each humpback has a pattern on the underside of its tail as distinctive as our fingerprints, and these are used to catalogue the whales for photo-identification.

Monday, 2 July 2001

Land of ice, hot water & hopefully whales

In search of more cetaceans not too far from home, here I am on a short break to Iceland to look for the largest animal ever to have inhabited the planet - the blue whale.
On arrival at Keflavík airport today, we headed straight for the famous Blue Lagoon. It looks somewhat bleak and volcanic, and the air temperatures are cold even in July, but the water is extremely hot! Then off to our hotel at Ólafsvík on the Snæfellsnes Peninsular.

Monday, 22 January 2001

A winter visitor

A visit to Hornsea Mere in East Yorkshire today, to see if there were any good photo-opportunities for the Natural History module of my photography course. The Mere is a site for overwintering birds of all shapes and sizes, but this smart whooper swan was the most photogenic.