Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Tuesday 26th February 2013

We were going to go berging in the boats last night but on the advice of Luc (Bom) we decided not to go, pity as there was no wind all night. Today is very windy (40 knots) and after taking the weekly ANARE readings I decided to clean both the ANARE equipment room and radome. There is so much crap lying around this place, it’s like it’s been run by hoarders for the past twenty years. Just lazy people I guess. Any way by the time I leave this place every building will be neat and tidy and anything not being used or required will be sent back to Hobart. On a totally different note, my health is much better now. My $42 humidifier was the best investment, I haven't had a blood nose for a couple of weeks now and since I have been putting cream on my feet all the painful cracks have gone.

The Rosella building (Carpenters workshop) make from left over materials


One of our two wind turbines

Monday, 25 February 2013

Monday 25th February 2013

Well after many hours of painstaking fiddly work I finally got my 55-200 lens working again. There were some broken parts I had to repair and unfortunately the lens is now permanently stuck in auto focus mode, but I can live with that. I think I am very lucky to have it working again and that I didn’t break my leg or hip during the fall, although I am very sore today. I also fixed the arm on my glasses, they don’t fold any more but you can’t have everything.

The weather was perfect again today and we decided to go boating at five o’clock but unfortunately the wind came up and we cancelled it in favour of one o’clock start tomorrow. We just have to get it past Cookie. Today we unloaded all our non perishable food for the year and it was quite a big job with all hands on deck it took several hours.
 









 

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Sunday 24th February 2013

Today started off very slowly as I was so tired and it took me a while to get going. My day started bad when I knocked my head on the filter control box and broke the arm off my reading glasses. After doing the APANSA filter change I went back to the red shed and made some lunch and a coffee. It was another perfect breathless day again today, so I decided to go out on West arm and take my camera & tripod and take a series of photos to stitch together to make a nice wide shot of the station.

Cookie suggested I go over to East arm as the ice sheet was making strange sounds and threatening to break out, so I took his advice and headed over that way. Indeed the ice sheet was groaning and moving up and down with the swell. It was like a huge set of lungs breathing in and out. All the seals and penguins sitting on top couldn’t care less. It was very interesting but after a while I decided to l follow the coast back into the station and then keep going out to West arm. Along the way I saw another huge jelly fish like the one I saw yesterday but this one was twice as big.
Close to the old hanger I nearly stepped on 4 Weddell seals scaring the hell out of me. They couldn’t really care less and as I was already so close I gave the smallest one a scratch on his rear flippers. He seemed to like it but was also a bit ticklish. I felt like giving him a big hug and a scratch and rough up but thought best of it. I was almost back at station when I was crossing some spray ice in front of the hanger being careful not to slip over when I went arse up landing heavily on my left hip and dropping my camera and tripod. I laid there in pain for a while then got up and accessed the damage.
After a while the pain went away and I discovered I had broken one of the legs off my tripod which upset me. My camera appeared to be fine though. Walking back I bumped into Lloyd who was going to read a book in the sun but decided minus two was a bit cold. We chatted and then I headed off to West arm. After about twenty minutes walking I had reached the top of West are and I setup my broken tripod & camera the best I could and when I turned the camera on I discovered it was broken too and not working properly. I was very disappointed and walked all the way back to the red shed and dropped both off and went down to the transmitter building.
There I spent a couple of hours assembling my 6m yagi antenna and looking for a suitable place to mount it or to erect my portable tower. In between this I had a listed on my radio and a Perth station was romping through on 20m. Later I went back to the red shed for dinner and to catch up with all the guys that had returned from field training. After dinner I checked my camera with the 18-55 lens and it worked perfect, so the 55-200 lens is broken and I will attempt to pull it apart tomorrow and see if I can fix it. I will be very disappointed if I can’t fix it as I use this lens 90% of the time. 
On a different note, I have been wondering where the penguins go when a blizzard hits and I have solved the mystery. They crouch down behind a rock or some shelter and bury their face in the snow and let them selves get buried over. The snow acts like insulation and protects them from the extreme cold.

You can see the penguin's face print in the snow and you can see how the wind direction has shifted during the blizzard by the direction of the penguins shit trail.


This whole fast ice was groaning as it was lifting up and down with the ocean swell


Main power house


Trades workshop


Aren't they so cute




These ranges are 27kms away. The highest peak is where I landed in the helicopter and "fang" is the pointy peak.



The old hanger "circa" 1950's


Saturday 23rd February 2013

This morning I was very tired but I reluctantly got up and did the APANSA filter change and the radio sked with all the guy’s up on the plateau. When I got back to the red shed, Geoff and I carried all the rubbish I cleaned out of the upstairs area a couple of days ago, and took it all away to be burnt or RTA’ed. When we got back to the red shed there was a bit of excitement as we could see a few killer whales in the bay near East arm. They looked like they were chasing penguins around. We then saw some more in Horseshoe harbour. Some of the guys grabbed their cameras and headed over to East arm while I decided to head over to West arm.

When I got to the top of West arm I could see about six orcas a long way out and I started throwing rocks into the water in the hope they might become curious and come over to investigate. I was happy I could get some nice shots of penguins with the whales off in the distance behind them. After an hour or so they started getting closer and closer. By this time Peter layt had arrived and we both followed the pod of whales around to the point of West arm where they were only a few meters off the rocks. We were taking so many spectacular photos we both had sore trigger fingers.
 By this time Geoff had joined us when we noticed the pod of whales had a young Weddell seal with them. The whole time they had been playing with the seal like a cat does with a mouse and the poor thing was completely exhausted and close to death. We could see teeth marks on his flippers and he was swollen and battered. They would drag him down and hold him under and blow bubbles at him. It was an amazing display and we all started to yell and encourage the seal to swim to shore and climb up the rocks before he got eaten. All the whales were lined up in a row watching him and he was so tired and weak that every time he climbed up the rocks a wave would come and wash him back off to the waiting orcas. After several attempts to escape and climb the rocks, the exhausted seal turned and swam to the whales and had a five minute stare off. It was like he was saying finish me off you basted’s !!
Strangely the whales didn’t take him, and the seal turned and managed to climb up the rocks just past the tide line and collapsed in a heap. It looked like his flippers were broken and the poor little bugger was completely spent. It was if the whales had brought the seal to me as a gift like a cat does with a mouse. It was amazing and all the whales just stayed there lifting their heads out to look at us. They kept doing this for at least another thirty minutes till they started losing interest and started swimming back and forth past the seal and eventually they swam off. It was the most amazing and intense two hours of my life and only the four of us there can understand what just happened.
On the way back to the station I sighted a huge jelly fish in the water and took a few photos of it. Back at the red shed I up loaded all my orca photos onto the server so everybody could see them and when I came out of my room I ran into Geoff and he said he went to down load his orca photos and he discovered he didn’t have a memory card in his camera !!
Later I celebrated with a few relaxing beers in the spa. The guys thought it was hilarious watching me walk back through the snow in minus two in a white resort dressing gown and a pair of thongs. Cookie whipped up a real nice seafood curry which we all enjoyed with a glass of wine with the best view on Earth. After dinner Cookie & I went for a walk out on West arm to see if the little seal was OK, but he was gone. My guess is he went to sleep and never woke up and the high tide washed him away. (Or maybe the orcas came back and took him?) Life can be so cruel but it was such an honour to witness such an amazing event as a spectator and not to intervene even though we wanted to help that poor little bugger. Later in the Catabatic Bar we toasted to his short life and his will to survive under the overwhelming odds. Orcas are the biggest dolphins and the most intelligent animal in the ocean. I think they were all young female orcas we saw and this display was probably a feeding lesson and also a game to keep the cohesion of the pod.
A PICTURE TELLS A THOUSAND WORDS !!
 

  







Can you see the seal ?


 









 























These are Type B killer whales – the easiest diagnostic thing is that very large ‘eye patch’ they have compared to the other types. As the photos confirm, Type Bs are seal specialists – so the poor (or lucky) Weddell seal would not have been that surprised!
Type A killer whales have a smaller eye patch and specialise on minke whales. Type Cs have a funny shaped small eye patch and enjoy a nice meal of fish (and some penguins).
The Prey type is not exclusive, but they are each specialists. Type Bs are among the largest. The photos are of females.