Bird Island Diary – May 2005

31 May, 2005 Bird Island

Tommo arrives

Well hello from Bird Island, I have just arrived on this wondrous isle this month, so as the new boy, it is my duty to write this newletter, and explain to you all what is going on at Bird Island this month…

Well the island looked vaguely Pre-historic to me too as I approached on the Fisheries protection vessel Sigma.

But after a 5-day bouncy trip from the Falklands, I was glad to see any kind of land at all, and so far the only monsters I have found have JCB written on the side of them! (Apart from Helen’s knitted dinosaur collection, which is growing day by day!)

I arrived to take up the final wintering position, rounding off this band of renegade mavericks!

I am also to be the technical bloke as a foil to the other three biological scientists, although the other 3 people wintering with me seems to have the technical side of things pretty much sewn up, Helen has been studiously monitoring our water supply, Sarah has been looking after the generators, and Isaac has been taking care of all the communications and computing on base.

So on the face of things I might be out of a job!

I am sure I could have spent all my time drinking tea….but luckily I am an electrician by trade and so have something to do!

As well as my technical job, I am the Winter Base Commander, and as we waved goodbye to the Official Base Commander, Vicky Auld, early on in the month, with a shake of the hand I accepted a new phase ( for me) of responsibility and paperwork. Although the only time I have had to arbitrate any swift justice was when we were arguing over “was it beans, or cheese first” on jacket potatoes…?

(If you are interested it is beans first on warm potatoes, but cheese first on really hot ones – job done!!!

Pictured along with the wintering team is Pete Lens, who travelled down with me to Bird Island to move the communications suite into the new base, and to oversee the transfer of the computer network, he has been busy cataloguing all our Comms spares and enjoying the odd game of “Spiderman 2”.

Also on base is my facilities engineer, Andy Cope, who has been supervising the new rebuild, making himself popular by pointing out problems, and who has been photographed by Pete in a few heroic poses, far too heroic for the web-page anyway! Or so Andy said when I threatened to put them on here.

Andy is an Ex- Halley Ex-Wintering Electrician, as am I, and included with the Morrison’s rebuild team is John Davies, another Ex-Halley Ex- Wintering Electrician…! I think there must be something about Bird Island that attracts us!

It’s obviously the great company!

We have had a few wonderful sunny days this month… no really!

And people on base took the opportunity to get out and about, including myself and Isaac who walked up Tonk, admittedly we were carrying car batteries for some of the way for the VHF repeater, which turned a lovely day out into just a “slightly interesting” one from my perspective…

I managed to get a few good pictures from the top though. And me and Isaac had a justly deserved reward.

And everyone else had a great day out later on in the week, whilst I was still recovering from the battery/Tonk trip.

Also on the weather front, we had a lovely moon appear one afternoon, with clouds rolling over the hills, and we all set out with cameras feeling like the paparazzi! Even I managed to get a few good shots. ( Cheers again, for the camera David! )

On the science front, I have been given a part of the island to survey each month, monitoring the many albatross chicks who share the island and the winter with us, they look pretty cute, but I reckon I’ll stay clear of those hooked beaks!

Also this month on the science front, Isaac radioed the base to say he could see a leopard seal from up on the hillside, Sarah rushed round to Landing Beach. And I went along to see the first leopard seal of the winter.

It was a very sedate Lep, or so I have been told, and I went up to check the tags on its flippers with Sarah. All very exciting!!

So all in all I feel like part of the team already, the new base is looking good, and we are set to move in next month sometime.

We have already fitted some shelving into our food stores, which were skilfully prepared by Steve Canham.

Well he is the senior building surveyor…! (Me and Andy finished them off for you Steve – don’t worry yourself).

We have also installed our new compactor, and started to move things about to create some space that we need to facilitate the transfer of years of accumulated stuff from one base into another…if we can fit it all in – there seems to be much more stuff than room.

Stay tuned in for more moving adventures next month..

All my love to my family,

All the best to my friends,

And big hello’s to anyone else reading this!!!!

Especially the deviant’s at Halley!!!

Come To Bird Island… it’s great!!!!

Allan “Tommo” Thomas