Bird Island Diary – November 2005

30 November, 2005

Another month of comings and goings

As mentioned at the end of last month, on the 29th, the Morrisons boys turned up, along with our resident base commander Vicky Auld, Dirk Briggs from Bio-sciences and Steve Canham from building services.

Everything then proceeded to be like they had never left, with jcb diggers and plant machinery pottering about, workmen dragging dirty boots through everything and plenty of extra washing up to be done!!

The new base was fiddled with and little snagging jobs finished off, and the old prince house was gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) removed from the beach. And with fond farewells we waved goodbye to the aga as it was lifted out of its old home.

We also found an old message from November ’96 underneath the cladding on the old base, so we had to update the photograph for history’s sake.

This might all sound a bit like a building site, and at first that’s exactly what the beach looked like, but we can now look out of our lounge windows onto the cove and the sea beyond.

Some residents were not happy about losing their dry sleeping spots though..!

Thanks must go to: Timmy!, JD, JT, Big Al, Darren, Dewi, Nick, Nige & Kevin who all worked so hard to finish the buildings, clear the beach and pack all manner of stuff away.

And with that, the RSS James Clark Ross arrived, swept the boys onboard, and after a lovely day spent with Captain Chris Elliot ashore, we had a lovely night onboard, all coming back to base in a wonderfully calm, serene, snowy atmosphere.

Only broken by a barrage of snowballs from the ship – cheers everyone!

Of course where are my manners, the important arrivals from the JCR are yet to be mentioned, Donald Malone and Robin Snape are the latest incoming winterers at Bird Island, Donald is taking over from Sarah on the Seal side, and Robin is continuing the Albatross work which Isaac has done here.

Both arrived fresh faced and wide eyed, which reminded me of when I turned up here myself (well maybe not as fresh faced) Next months webpage will be written by these two, so I will let them tell you of their island in their own words in December.

Other new arrivals were Jaume forcada, who has worked on the seals here for a few seasons.

Chris Hill & Kenny Monk who built our shiny new comms dome, and Xander Kabat, who is working on the albatrosses.

Earlier I mentioned our uncluttered view of freshwater beach. Well – that’s not exactly true, as now the furry army has besieged us!

The male fur seals started arriving first, the younger males growling and chuffing at all and sundry, the older males calm and collected. Then the ladies arrived and the battling males fought and bickered for the best bit of beach to impress and woo the females to.

As is traditional on Bird Island, with the first pup, came the hair-dye, and more odd designs were applied to all in celebration of this event. Ranging from ‘all over blonde’ to ‘black brow albatross’ and ‘stars’ and ‘shamrocks’. I myself went for the subtle ‘Macaroni penguin’ look.

Which links nicely into:

Excitement in the world of birds this month, with Helen counting not only a mass of real macaroni penguins at Big Mac – The second biggest macaroni penguin colony in the world – but giant petrel chicks too – affectionally known as ‘gonzos’.

There are still more births to come on this life-filled island!

More next month!

So I guess this wraps things up, I shall be leaving bird island to return to Halley once more for this Antarctic summer, after that I shall be heading home

( I promise this time – Mam & Dad)

After three years away I am looking forward to seeing my family and friends. However I will miss this little island, its sights, its sounds and its smells and I can say it has been one of the most interesting places I have ever been to.

All the best from a Happy Winterer

Allan ‘Tommo’ Thomas