Franz Josef Land & Svalbard - 2018

The buildings are in considerable disrepair and we could see very few indications that rehabilitation is in progress. The hotel is operational and heavily booked though we could not see why. All the mining equipment looks very sad and it appears that it is being kept around for historical purposes since no maintenance is being performed on the items. The very best thing about our visit there was the man-made kittiwake cliff. One of the big dormitory buildings which was originally used for families with children has now become the nesting area for the kittiwake families. Ironic and appropriate. The birds have taken over the window sills to use as ledges for their nests. Three nests occupy each sill. So the colony is not nearly as large as the ones we have seen on natural cliff faces,

but it appears to be thriving. We could not figure out why the sills of other buildings are not utilized. The site even has arctic foxes nearby as predators but though the foxes can climb down treacherous cliff faces, they apparently have not figured out how to go straight up a sheer building wall. “o they must wait for chicks to fall from the nests. Maybe that’s why the one fox we saw was pretty skinny and scraggly—rather like the rest of the site.

The scenery around Pyramiden is rugged and impressive but I still think the place is a bit more depressing than enjoyable.

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