Thursday 23rd January - Elinca and Dave return
We have had an exciting few days here in the bay of Port Lockroy. Firstly, Skip left to go north on a cruise ship on Sunday and Dave is now skippering Pelagic again. The guys from the yacht Elinca stopped by for a few beers on their way north on Monday night, so we had a fun evening on Pelagic catching up with them. They really are an inspiring group of people, led by Clare and James, and we have had some great evenings with them during their stop-overs here at Port Lockroy - Christmas on Christmas Eve, Burns Night 10 days early (but complete with haggis and an Ode - to a gentoo rather than the haggis), and their final night on Sunday. If you get a chance, you can see what adventures they get up to on their blog as they make their way back to the UK via South Georgia, the Falklands and Brazil: www.adventure2013.co.uk
Spying on skuas
As the penguin chicks are growing and getting more confident about wandering outside their parents' brood pouches, we have seen an increase in skua activity on Goudier Island. Every day, around four skuas can be seen in the air at any one time searching the ground for easy-pickings. They swoop very low and catch the air currents off the rocky cliffs too, particularly on the more blustery days. They have certain watch points too where the position themselves to look over the penguin colonies - the Stevenson Screen and apex of the boat shed roof being the main ones. Needless to say, we have to show more of the skuas than just hunting behaviour (which can be pretty gruesome) so I have been exploring the local rocky outcrops over the past few days looking for nests and youngsters. I now have three nests, which we can use as potential filming locations - the easiest of which is on Bills Island. They are surprisingly tolerant, although there is normally an element of dive-bombing when we first approach. I am monitoring the nests daily now as I don't know when the eggs were laid and would like to see (and give Andrew the opportunity to film) the chicks being fed when they do hatch.
Yes, I have finally done a polar plunge!! I jumped off the back of Pelagic the night before last into the bay with Michelle who is staying on the yacht Australis that is currently anchored in Port Lockroy. Having filmed Andrew's girls jump in, I felt I had to do it myself and there was no dilly-dallying on the edge, just a count to three and jump (with a shriek and a huge splash)! The water was cold (well, doh!) and we were literally steaming when we clamboured back out on deck. It was a fantastically beautiful evening, complete with humpbacks (their blows visible out in the Neumayer Channel), beer and a BBQ on Australis.