Bird Island Diary – June 2014

1 June, 2014

June began with the monthly Albatross census on and around the whole of the island. Great to have everyone helping out to have the experience of getting up close to these beautiful bird, and a great excuse for myself as the Tech to get out and about and do some exploring. The birds are getting really big now; not like anything I’m used to seeing back in the UK, which makes the experience even more surreal.

Over the following weeks the whole base was preparing for Midwinter celebrations and the returning of the light for our colleagues further down on the Antarctic continent.

At the beginning of winter we drew names out of a hat to see who we were each making Midwinter gifts for, then it was full steam ahead in the workshop, with a couple of show and tells on the safe use of the equipment and safety gear to be used. The workshop itself, usually my domain, turned into a makeshift Santa’s factory, and with the absolute secrecy of the gifts, most people took theirs to their own Pit rooms to finish off and get the beautiful wrapping done. You could feel everyone’s creations taking shape and the excitement growing over the whole gift making and giving experience.

When it came to Midwinter’s day arriving, the Base Commander was up bright and early to make the full English breakfast for all. The fragrant smell of the veritable feast that awaited us made getting up that day extra special. Over breakfast we discussed all our Midwinter weeks’ plans for fun and games that we would all come to enjoy immensely.

After breakfast Cian and Jerry went out on the leopard seal round to see if they could spot any of our newest arrivals to the Bird island family. Whilst the boys braved the snowy day Jess and I started all the preparations for the main Midwinter’s meal, preparing all the vegetables and making a beautiful nut roast for the vegetarians. Jess had also been busy preparing mince pies and a midwinter’s cake, which Cian decorated beautifully with a decorative leopard seal, all wide mouthed.

Once we had the Midwinter’s meal all organised and in the oven, we got to the really exciting part of the day; the giving of gifts. We were all very excited, like children at Christmas time. We gave gifts in age order and Cian, being the youngest, gave me my gift first. Like a child I ripped into my wrapping paper to be amazed at what I saw, it was a collection of beautiful sketched pictures of myself and the islands wildlife, set in a lovely frame.

Jess was next to give her gift to Jerry, it was a beautiful rustic looking clock but instead of numbers on its face, each hour was a different bird tag and with this gift Jerry also received a lovely piece of artwork explaining the tags and species they had belonged to.

Jerry was up next and he gave Jess a really amazing wood carving of an entire wandering albatross family, it was really beautiful and Jess insisted that it became the centre piece for a midwinter’s table, it truly looked very beautiful.

Then it was my turn to give Cian his gift, it was a downscaled, fully operational model of scientific seal equipment, hopefully it would be a bit lighter to carry than the normal sized things.

After the giving of gifts, we settled in and watched the traditional Midwinter’s movie; The Thing, and on completion sat down to our beautiful midwinter’s feast.

For the rest of our midwinter’s holiday we had a great day with a movie marathon, which was nice because we were all snug inside in the warm, watching movies and all eating our fare share of junk food.

We also had our Miniature golf tournament, where we all took the time to find a location on base and convert each one into a three whole course, not the easiest round of golf we have ever played, but the funniest.

On one of our nicest days in the week Cian arranged and set up highland games for us all to compete in. What with tossing cabers, welly throwing and other events including the egg and spoon snow drift slalom event it was both a physical and fun day for all.

Our final event was a nice family day out around the island to Johnson cove and to explore some exciting caves.

Baring all this in mind we did find time to get all of our day to day tasks done to make sure all of our wildlife and technical friends were all happy.

Rob Fry

Bird Island Technician