Bird Island Diary — July 2013

31 July, 2013

With the island looking very sparse in terms of animals the month began in the usual way with all of us out conducting the Wandering Albatross chick census. There were only a couple of failures in the last month and the chicks are even beginning to get a few adult feathers poking through their down.

We had a rare visitor to the island a large Elephant sea. It was nice to see the sheer size of them in comparison to the individuals that reside here.

The weather this month has been a mixed bag with snow and freezing conditions (-7 deg) for a week and then wet rainy days (+4 deg).

Talking of weather, on one particularly nice day we decided to shut up shop, put on our snow boots, and went on a family day out to Johnson Cove along the coastal route. This is a very rare occasion due to the busy work life down here on Bird Island. We climbed the stack at the end of the beach, and had some snacks whilst watching the numerous Gentoo penguins on the beach. On the way down from the stack we noticed an unusual looking seal, a Brindle Fur Seal! This was the first one seen on the island this year, so we took some time to watch him and take some photographs.

Later in the month we found a young male Fur seal that had been entangled in marine debris. It was action stations to remove the debris from the seal. We managed to cut through the debris, which otherwise could have killed the seal as it grew.

July also saw us take on the Race across Antarctica. All the BAS bases take on a distance (1996km) set by the race organiser (James-Halley doctor), and we battle it out to get across the finish line first. Methods of travel included; rowing, running, cycling, walking and skiing. Each base had a team of four, so being the smallest winter base and therefore not being able to do a rotation with other base members, it spurred us on being the under dogs, and you guessed it the tiny island won!!!

Towards the end of the month a ship turned up with a spare part for the generator. This gave me the chance to fix a major fault that has meant we have been down to only one generator. It is now working lovely and providing us warmth and electricity to carry out our science jobs down here. We used the opportunity of the ship coming to replenish our fresh food supplies which were “running low”. Sue Gregory (KEP) came ashore, it was lovely to have a visitor and swap goodies. Thanks KEP!

One major event in July was the birth of the future King George. We celebrated the birth by having a royal themed party in his name. A great time was had by all and there was a lot of patriotic singing and dancing.

That’s it this month from me and it will probably be my last entry as I head off in November back to the UK. I thought I would leave you with my picture of the month a Giant Petrel doing his best to fend off other birds whilst trying to eat his dinner.

I would like to take this time to say hello to my family and loved ones at home enjoying the sun!

I’d also like to say thanks for the great winter even though it’s not finished yet, and thank you for the memories that I will take away from here!

All the best

Craig Brown

Bird Island Tech 2013