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June 21, 2016

Today we explored the Bellsund Area in Southwest Spitsbergen. A landing was offered to us this morning. It was the first time we didn’t have to separate into specific hiking groups as the guides stood watch for polar bears while we were allowed to wander along the perimeter of the peninsula freely. It was a welcome change to be able to explore on our own.

Upon landing by the old relics, David and I decided to go to our right first. We followed the shoreline past countless whale bones and an old boat. Of course I stopped occasionally to inspect a few flowers as we slowly climbed to a lookout where three reindeer hung out nearby. After briefly enjoying the view, we headed back toward the old buildings. We spent some time poking around each structure, before we walked the other way to a lookout over the bay. We strolled at a leisurely pace while taking in the sights, before we decided our time was up and waited for the zodiac. I’m not sure if we used the entire three hours allotted to us, but we did enjoying seeing the historical relics.

The afternoon offered a slow zodiac cruise under cloudy skies. In fact, we’ve had very few clear days. I think we took those first few days of sun for granted! Our cruise took us along the shoreline for a view of spectacular cliff formations and TONS of birds. Brunnich’s guillemots filled every nook and cranny while geese and gulls nested atop the rocky outcrops. The tundra beneath the cliffs was much greener than the previous places we visited because we were farther south and the cliffs were so steep, the reindeer couldn’t get to some of these areas to graze.

We motored around the bend to find geese with goslings on the pebble beach. The parents stood guard of their three babies while they kept a close eye on the menacing glaucous gulls lurking nearby. This was a fun sighting! We also spotted some eiders with goslings swimming through the choppy seas after we circled around a small rock island. This was a fun sighting as well. Thougy not being a birder, I could have been just as happy only spending and hour on the zodiac as opposed to two. I was ready to board the ship to warm up. ETB

To see where we were, click here: http://www.trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip/3249393?secretLinkKey=9f8d2252-341e-43c0-83f1-bb01f8351ed5

For photographic notecards or key chains, visit www.notablenotecards.com or www.etsy.com/shop/nichenotecards

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