Wednesday, 11 January 2017

It's not all work down here (Penguin photos coming up!!)

Evening all - First bit of business, I've had a request for a subscribe button so that people don't have to keep checking for updates. If Blogger's add ons are working correctly you should see a box on the right that you can put your email address into and get an email whenever I post something new - simple. 

I will of course continue with Twitter and Instagram posts. If you want to follow me on twitter I'm @HalleyVIDoc and on Instagram: HalleyVIDoc - I try and put a least one picture on Instagram each day. 

Also I've change the banner image at the top - got a bit tired of it and I'm getting to like my little Brunt ice shelf diagrams. 

Right enough housekeeping - on with the blog!

 So you have probably guessed by the content of the blog so far that there is a lot of work to do this year. However, we do get some time off now and then (normal working hours are from 0800 until 1900 Monday to Saturday – we get a 30 minute break in the morning and one in the afternoon and an hour for lunch. Workload can vary a lot depending on the stage of the move and who is around). Sundays are our day off and the field guides will often run recreation trips off station either to the coast to do some ice climbing and meet the penguins or to the crevasse. Spaces are limited as only 16 people can fit in the two SnoCats which we use, so there is a sign up sheet which usually fills up pretty quickly. At the beginning of December – through a combination of bribery/threats and subtle coercion – I managed to get my name on the list for the trip over to the Creeks.

The creeks are a series of features about 20km north west of the station on the coast – here the ice shelf has large splits that work their way towards the continent forming fairly sheltered bays or creeks. The sea ice that forms here is quite thick and protected from the wind so remains throughout most of the summer. Snowfall also provides a convenient ramp down from the shelf onto the sea ice. Tidal movement keeps small crevasses open on either edge of the sea ice which make great little walls to practice ice climbing on.
(Teaser - The Creeks will feature again in the next blog – all about relief).

So on the 10 of December last year, 16 of us dragged ourselves out of bed, packed some sandwiches and a thermos and gathered some ice axes, crampons and helmets and headed off for the 2 hour drive off base – the vast majority of us promptly fell asleep again on the way!

It was quite frankly a stunning experience! A relatively sunny day, ice climbing on the edge of Antarctica, walking over sea ice and getting face to face with some emperor penguins. I’m sure the bill to do this sort of activity with a commercial operation would be in the tens of thousands of pounds and here we are doing it for free on a day trip!

I’ve put together a little slide show of some of the (many) photos I took on the day which you can see here: (it’s about 7 minutes long)

(It’s a bit tricky uploading large media files through the satellite here – we can do it but everybody’s Facebook stops when we do, and trust me it’s not worth it. To get round the problem, our outgoing data manager Mike Krzysztofowics offered to do a trickle upload to his own server for me which is why the link looks a little odd – I promise you it will not try to sell you any car insurance.

Mike has spent two winters down here now and is a phenomenal photographer. You can check out his blog here as well as his 360 tour of Halley and his project to take, process and post a new photograph everyday for a year – believe me it’s a lot harder than it sounds and his results are amazing!! I’ve been really fortunate Mike has been a great help with photo stuff down here – full of advice! I thoroughly recommend you check his stuff out!)

The penguins are very inquisitive and don’t have any real fear of humans. Stay still and quiet and they’ll come to within a few metres of you and check you out – when they’re bored they’ll toddle off back to the sea. This time of year they’re mostly out fishing so there were only a few hanging around on the ice. Come winter there will be huge colonies of them huddled together sheltering from the wind.
They really are strange creatures – catch them at the right angle and they look completely alien – big eye and thin heads. Then they start waddling and they look so awkward.

Right – hope you enjoyed the pics. Something a little fluffier than moving modules at least.

Coming up next time – getting your shopping delivered, Antarctica style.

Bye for now


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