The view from Vigur island across the fjord is of endless barren mountains, with very little green. What plants there are manage a centimetre or two of growth and then give up.
and yet Vigor island is lush and green. The grasses grow in feet rather than centimetres and wild flowers flourish.
Why here and not there? The answer is a very simple four letter word. Shit! Tons and tons of it.
7000 Eider Ducks, 200,000 puffins, more Arctic Terns than anyone can count and a rare colony of Black Guillemot do what they have to do, and more often than not they do it on the island. The result is that this tiny island is covered, knee deep, in shit and as we all know there is no better fertiliser. So the grass and the wild flowers grow and the birds love it. In a land with no trees, tall grasses offer the best protection against predators, and so the birds return every year to nest. They continue to do what birds have to do, the island is once again covered in fertiliser and so the cycle continues year after year.
Gisli, our host, walks us round the island, telling us about the birds. He keeps a path clear for his family and visitors to walk on. The birds recognise that the path is not a good place to build their nests, but either side of it is packed with nests, all carefully hidden from view.
A young arctic tern, desperate for its next meal is shrieking for its mother
A small group of black guillemots are also shrieking,
I think they are just upset at having their island invaded by a load of old people.
But these are not the reason for our journey to this island. We have primarily come to see the puffins. Dear Readers, those of you who have paid attention over the years of my scribblings will know that we have made several futile efforts to see puffins in the past. Vigur island is our last hope. It does not disappoint. Gisli tells us that the season is over and almost all of the 200,000 puffins have left. But to us, the place is still full of them and they do not disappoint. Smaller than I thought they would be, they are still adorable with their colourful beaks, triangular eyes and orange feet.
They are even more adorable when they are fishing. They have a sort of serrated back to their beaks which allows them to hold several fish in their mouths at the same time while they continue to dive and look for more. One puffin has been seen holding 16 fish in its mouth.
They are quite shy and paddle away from us as we approach, all except one who is tired of being watched and gives me the evil eye