Thursday, 12 December 2013
Taking the highway
The highway system I have created to move around the island with camera kit has been adopted by our resident penguins. I deliberately avoided their paths when creating my own but they too are struggling with the melting snow so I am glad to have aided their passage to and from the sea, even if I now have to give way from time to time!
I think we're alone now...
The ice is back. Again. Ok, it never really went away. It seems to hover around much like a lingering cold - slightly irritating but not normally enough of a problem to affect day-to-day business until it suddenly, unexpectedly floods in. Anyway, despite being ship free and devoid of visitors beyond the penguins, we are plenty busy - the Port Lockroy gang are working through their season job list for the base and I am, of course, concentrating on the penguins. Sarah has found time to learn to knit and I have discovered that there are ingredients in mash potato beyond just potato. We have had radio contact with Darryl, the captain of Icebird, who is probably our nearest neighbour - currently sailing somewhere around the corner (read about 20 miles away) on the Peninsula. We hope he might be able to stop by Port Lockroy soon but this is dependent on changing winds and thus ice conditions.
We have been lucky enough to have one visitor - an adelie, which has been hanging out at Bill's Island for a couple of days. Yesterday, it made its way back towards the Neumayer Channel over the ice. For those who are unfamiliar with the geography of Port Lockroy, the Neumayer Channel is the body of water that runs past Port Lockroy, the bay in which Goudier Island sits. The bay contains various colonies of penguins but all are gentoo so it is a pleasant surprise to receive visitors of other species. So far, we have only seen the other brush-tailed penguins (chinstraps and adelies) here but I am ever hopeful that we will get more exotic strangers to our shore...
We have an advent calendar here at Port Lockroy thanks to Kristy. It is providing a daily reminder that Christmas is approaching, for it can be hard to lose perspective of days although we keep track of the date. We have discovered a box of Christmas decorations too and will be decorating our home soon enough. I am looking forward to waking up on Christmas morning to see snow and penguins outside! The commercial Christmas buzz that I am normally subjected to (and readily embrace!) back home seems to belong to a different world to the one in which I currently live here at Port Lockroy. Conversations about Christmas shopping are replaced with concerns about whether we will be able to gather enough fresh ice at low tide to provide drinking water. It certainly makes one appreciate basic necessities - and be thankful for them.
Andrew will be leaving Ushuaia within the next day or so to return here. I am very much looking forward to seeing him again here and hope he brings calmer weather since the wind has picked up a bit recently, which is frustrating for filming and sound recording.
Up the stick
We have an anemometer tower here on Goudier which offers great views of the island and bay. I climbed up it last night to place my Go-Pro overlooking the Nissen Hut so we could see exactly what the pesky sheathbills get up to. Sadly it has been a bit too windy to go back 'up the stick' and retrieve it so far today - doh(!) - so we will have to wait to watch back sheathbill cam...