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Bird Island Diary — July 2010

This month I thought I would have a bit of a change from the usual diary entries. So:

A day in the life of a Bird Island Techie.

0700

One of us will rise out of bed early and start the generators. ‘Start up’ is set on a rota, as well as shut down.

0830

Get out of the pit and make some breakfast. This is possibly the worst time of day for me. I muster up all of my strength and plod in to the kitchen for a bowl of cereal, and make a coffee.

Claudia making some breakfast in the kitchen. (Photo: Joe Corner)
Claudia making some breakfast in the kitchen. (Photo: Joe Corner)

0845

Coffee in hand, it’s time to turn the computer on and see what’s been happening in the world. I usually check my emails, and then spend 15 minutes or so reading the paper.

Busy as usual in the office. (Photo: Derren Fox)
Busy as usual in the office. (Photo: Derren Fox)

0900

Now this is when my day really begins. BAS technical services use a computer programme to keep track of spares, and job schedules, and this tells me what to do on a daily basis. Normally I would do some general maintenance, be it generator services, or cleaning the gutters, and on the odd occasion a breakdown will occur which means using a bit of brainpower. With it being a Friday however, the generators and boilers need refuelling, water filters changing, and fire alarms testing.

Claudia is usually in the Lab identifying squid beaks in the morning, while Mick and Stacey catch up on some paperwork.

My weekly refuelling duty. We put a tarp over the drums because the Sheathbills like to sit on them. The tarp stops them falling in the gaps between the drums. (Photo: Stacey Adlard)
My weekly refuelling duty. We put a tarp over the drums because the Sheathbills like to sit on them. The tarp stops them falling in the gaps between the drums. (Photo: Stacey Adlard)

1230

Now it’s time to relax for 20 minutes and have a spot of a lunch. With us having no chef at Bird Island, all of our cooking is done on a rota system, apart from lunch, when we usually have a sandwich or some leftovers from the night before.

1300

Mick goes out every day to do his Leopard Seal walk. Taking roughly 2 hours, Mick walks a set coastal route, and catalogues any Leopard Seals that are resting along the bay.

On Fridays we have gash to do. This is basically a base clean out. We are each assigned a part of the base, and well, tidy it!!

Mick checking out a Leopard Seal. (Photo: Joe Corner)
Mick checking out a Leopard Seal. (Photo: Joe Corner)

1430

In the afternoon, I will continue any ongoing jobs. There is no set routine on Bird Island so each job changes from day to day.

Stacey busy mopping the corridor. (Photo: Joe Corner)
Stacey busy mopping the corridor. (Photo: Joe Corner)

1700

We all try to get out for a walk when we can to blow the old cobwebs away. Claudia usually has a set route which takes her up to one of the Albatross colonies which she will have to visit on a daily basis from September 1st until the end of the summer.

I tend to take a trip up a hill behind the base where I walk past a few Albatross chicks, Giant Petrels, and Fur Seals.

Stacey is the most imaginative of us all, and goes to a different place each day!

1900

Time to have a shower and freshen up before tea.

1930

In the winter we eat at 1930, but from September, when the field work begins, we make the most of the light and eat at 2000. As I said earlier in the diary, we have a rota for the daily cook, and everyone else tidies up after we have eaten. This is a good time to catch up on the day’s events, and generally have some social time.

2030

After we have eaten and sorted the mess in the kitchen out, we relax. On Wednesdays and Sundays we have a film night, when the cook is expected to make a cake or cookies. Although my cakes always seem to end up being about 5mm thick, and look nothing like the pictures in the cook book!!

Mondays are usually a TV night, with 24 being the main source of entertainment at the moment.

Tuesday has no set routine, so it’s a case amusing yourself. Stacey is currently making a chess board in the workshop.

On Thursday, Mick and I sit down and watch the box for a couple of hours.

Friday is games night, a particular favourite being Trivial Pursuit. Mick is current champion leading 3-2, with the girls yet to win a game! Saturdays is a bit of a mish-mash of things. Sometimes we have a game darts against other bases, we may watch a film, or play a game.

Me shutting down the generators. (Photo: Stacey Adlard)
Me shutting down the generators. (Photo: Stacey Adlard)

0000

Every evening we shut down the generators, and run the base essentials, such as freezers, IT equipment and communications on a UPS system (Uninterrupted Power Supply). The UPS is basically a big battery bank that steadily discharges overnight.

Shut down is again on a rota, although it tends to be the last person to bed switches off.

And now… off to bed.

Joe Corner
Bird Island
Technical services