Bird Island Diary – July 2005

31 July, 2005

Snow, sun and skis

July has sped by, bringing with it snow and ice and some great sunny days too enabling the skis to come out and some time to enjoy the island at its quietest and take in the spectacular scenery. Tommo is still learning to cherish the topography of our little rock and our walks out sometimes try his patience but I’m sure he loves all those hills really!

With most of the wildlife weaned, fledged or moulted and out to sea somewhere, it’s only the hardy gentoo penguins and fur seals that are hanging around to endure the storms, battening down the hatches whilst a nice drift of snow forms around them.

As the new base is all moved in its been a month of maintenance, with a trip up Tonk to replace the damaged wind generator that powers our radios and the first 500 hour service for the generators that power the base. Sarah and I are the trusty gennie mechs and have had our fair share of trouble shooting as the new engine has been run in.

A new flag was ceremoniously erected at the end of the jetty having not endured the winter storms it was looking a bit tatty already. With all of the blue sky we have seen this month, Albert the RAF Hercules radioed up and promised a fly by so we waited on the end of the jetty until we could stand the cold no longer, only to go inside to warm up and miss him passing Jordan Cove! Maybe next month Albert…

Its been a good month for leopard seal spotting with a record 8 in one day hanging around the base, lazing in the sunshine and generally being cool. The albatross chicks are at last gaining feathers at the expense of all of their fluff and a few practice wing flaps have been sighted.

Tuesday night is comedy night on Bird Island and having enjoyed the Little Britain series, we thought it was about time we had a Little Island night. A few bottles of hair dye later and we had Boris the baby sitter, Dafydd the only gay on the island, Vicky yeah but no but yeah Pollard and the long-suffering typist of romantic novelist Dame Sally.

Part of my work involves checking the largest beach on the island for litter. Sadly, there is still considerable waste discarded primarily from fishing ships, which tends to wash up in our pristine environment. It usually consists of fishing gear, rope and packing bands that can pose a serious threat of entanglement to the wildlife so when I came across an entire fridge freezer, I had to go back for some help! Three of us (Isaac, Sarah & myself) carried the freezer home so that it can be disposed of correctly – but not before it was used as a boat!

The ducks are still busy swimming in the water so love to all back at home, congratulations Pete and good luck Kath, Rachel, Anton and Trev :o)

Helen xxx