Monday, 27 February 2012

Close encounters of the furred kind!

20120201-P1010922The Fur Seal pups over in Maiviken are getting very mobile, playful and inquisitive. Sitting down on a rock at the side of Evans’ Lake (puppy lake as we call it) you soon have them sniffing at your boots and coming for a closer look. Occasionally a larger furry, maybe 2 or 3 years old comes to investigate too, if they come too close a quick clap of the hands sends them scurrying back to the water. Here are a few photos from the couple of occasions I have stopped to take photos.


20120211-DSC_3828This little chap was quite happy on his rock, and wasn’t going to move for any other pup! He quite enjoyed sniffing my camera and also my hand too, a very friendly furry fellow.



Monday, 6 February 2012

Greene peninsula holiday

Having slowed down with the breeding season monitoring it was about time for a holiday. Every day we look out from base and see the Greene peninsula, and there are some nice looking hills there that I have been wanting to climb.


One of the most common plants on South Georgia is called Burnet. The green, lush leaves are a popular meal for the reindeer, this usually has the benefit of stopping it flowering. It may seem odd thinking of that as a benefit, but if you’ve ever encountered the flowers and seed heads you’d realise why. The spherical red flowers are very pretty close up and early in the season, but soon enough they develop harpoon like barbs all 20120123-P1010760over, waiting to latch onto any passer by, birds, seals, people.

Once attached if disturbed the large balls break up into smaller individual seeds which can take ages to pluck off. Putting anything containing burnet in the washing machine is a terrible idea as it works into everything and you end up having to throw it away! This is especially so with socks. Well, although it’s annoying it’s just one of those things you have to put up with to go looking at glaciers, penguins and seals down here! Just be careful where you sit/lie down!

Hamberg Glacier

Walking along the shore of Morraine fjord up towards the Harker and Hamberg Glaciers there was plenty of ice littered on the shore. Unfortunately there wasn’t much calving action, but it was nice to sit and watch the glacier for a while before heading up the mountain at the south western end of the peninsula. From this mountain we could look down onto the Harker Glacier, and see right across the rest of the Greene. It was a great view.

Harker Glacier





While I was taking photos for a 360 panorama Tommy heard an odd noise, on investigation it turned out to be a Snow Petrel chick! This was the first nest I’d ever seen, despite seeing the adults flying around the top of a number of other mountains in the area. The chick was quite contented in it’s nook, but kept a beady eye on us as we took a few photos. The walk off the hill was a good long skree run, which required a couple of rest stops on the way down.


On the last day of the holiday we took it easy, and wandered along the beach to get a view of the Nordenskjold glacier. On the way round there was a section of the beach with a large quantity of washed up whale bones, driftwood and a couple of really old oil drums. I thought it made quite an interesting photo having the whale bones on the beach, and the old whaling station in the background.


On the way back to camp we headed across an area called the Teal ponds, there were plenty of nesting Giant Petrels in the area, and lots more burnet too. We also discovered a big boulder that gave us a good hours entertainment rock climbing around and over it. The rest of the afternoon was spent with a couple of beers sitting outside with my book, a thoroughly good way to end a relaxing holiday.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Exploring the whaling station

20120129-DSC_3732The museum ‘curatorial assistant’ Katie Murray left South Georgia on Tuesday having spent a few months here over the summer working at the Museum in Grytviken. Before departing she gave us a tour of the whaling station, we were also allowed to explore the old engineering stores too. Racks and racks of bolts and rivets are all still carefully organised and logged, there is definitely the feeling that the whalers just walked out and shut the door behind them.

20120129-DSC_3737Katie looking at some of the old ‘stuff’

20120129-DSC_3740 20120129-DSC_3742
20120129-DSC_3746 Numbered and logged racks of all kinds of things

20120129-DSC_3748 One of the people that came on the tour is an engineer on the Fisheries Patrol ship, he noticed that this was a fuel pump, there’s even the label still attached identifying it as being for the boat the Diaz which is still in Grytviken although now a wreck.

If anything broke down it had to be repaired on site, getting new parts sent in was not a viable option, so if there wasn’t a spare, then the part would have to be made. There was even a forge so that new parts could be cast and machined.



20120129-DSC_3752New alkathene pipe in store next to old brand new harpoon heads.



Safe journey home Katie, and see you again soon :-)