As with the rest of this trip, the cheese platter certainly lived up to our expectations! The food throughout the whole trip has been delicious and we can't thank the chef, Peder and Gabriella enough for their hospitality.
For our final day in the Arctic we headed on land to have a nice long walk to see what we could find. It was thoroughly enjoyable to know we had hours to roam to island and were able to stop for as long as we wanted when we found some wildlife.
The first wildlife sighting was a joy: plenty of Svalbard reindeer milling around, nibbling on the grasses and flowers provided for them during the Arctic summer. It seemed almost sad that these tiny little flowers had probably spend months fighting to push up through the rugged, Arctic terrain only to be munched down in seconds by a hungry reindeer. However, the fact that the climate is allowing sustenance to continually grow for these beautiful creatures gives me comfort.
The reindeer seemed perfectly happy minding their own business grazing and wandering about the island. However, much to our (and their) dismay the Arctic skuas did not want them to relax. Out of the blue they decided to divebomb the reindeer heads and backs until the deer moved on. Perhaps the skua had young or eggs lying nearby, but as reindeer are herbivorous it seemed a bit unfair!
After spending time with the reindeer we moved on in search of Arctic fox. We watched a certain rocky outcrop for a while and then changed to another section of rocks in the hope of seeing our last Arctic wildlife sighting. Our luck was in! We spotted what we assumed was a female fox roaming around the rocks. She was very cooperative and allowed us to capture a number of photographs as she walked back and forth. At one stage, Mark saw some fox cubs hiding in the shelter of rocks, but they didn't feel brave enough to come out and play for the rest of us to see.