Bird Island Diary – October 2014

11 October, 2014

October Diary day is here, and I’m very sorry to have to say this will be my final entry as the Bird Island base technician.

I have both seen and done some amazing things whilst I have been here on the island, from walking up and down large streams of ice to making movies for the 48 Hour Antarctic film festival.

But most of all I have enjoyed living amongst the spectacular wildlife, both that which inhabits the island and some of the interesting visitors too. I have also met some very admirable people who work very hard and feel very strongly about the work they do and the animals that they work with.

Most of our routine this month has been taken up with helping to get the base ready for all of the new scientists and the technician who will be taking over from the current team for the next season. I have been cleaning and tidying all of my machinery rooms and my workshops so everything will be clean, tidy and easy to find for the tech taking over from me.

This was both a wonderful and a new experience for me. I have learnt so much and have grown as an engineer, it’s been an honour to work here for the British Antarctic Survey.

Our zoological field assistants have been very busy; Cian has been going out every day in all weather to carry out his leopard seal round while noticing the daily increase in the number of male fur seals on the beaches. Very soon we should be getting a lot more females returning to give birth to some beautiful fur seal puppies, so Cian has to watch out for that happening too.

We also had some lovely elephant seals visit us on the island and a number of the females have given birth to beautiful puppies. There have also been some very volatile fights between some of the male elephant seals as they try to get some nice territory whilst they are here.

All the island’s birds have returned after being away for the winter season and they have all started to lay eggs. The resident wandering albatross chicks that have been on the island for winter are looking ready to make a start fledging soon. The black-browed and grey-headed albatrosses are back and Jess has been busy recording each pair’s arrival and egg laying date. Jerry has been doing the same for the giant petrels.

The penguins have been returning in large numbers; the big macaroni colony went from 0 birds to over 5,000 in a little over a week. Only another 75,000 still left to come back then! Their constant drone is a welcome background sound we’ve been without for six months.

The gentoos laid their eggs during the middle of the month and Jerry will be off counting them soon.

We also had a visit from some American geologists from the Nathaniel B. Palmer Research vessel, which came to fit a GPS Station on top of Mount Gazzella. This will allow a signal to be sent between the other GPS positions, showing how much the plates beneath the earth’s crust move every year. Much as I’ve enjoyed the company of the others it was nice to have some new faces around for the day and everyone worked incredibly hard in some foul weather.

So it is now that I bid you all a fond farewell and thanks for reading.

Rob Fry

Bird Island Technician