My blog while I work for British Antarctic Survey

Two weeks at Fossil Bluff and now back on base…

February 6th, 2009 Posted in Antarctica, Wildlife

The hut at Fossil Bluff What ho peeps, I’m back on base after an excursion down to Fossil Bluff (71°20′ S 68°17′ W). I didn’t make it as far south as Sky Blu but I’m not complaining as two weeks flying the flag at the Bluff is a pretty good break out of the office! 🙂

Fossil Bluff is usually occupied over the summer by two staff from Rothera, Looking out over the Soundgenerally and incoming and outgoing winterer so that the experience can be passed down from year to year. The job at Fossil Bluff is basically to man the hut  and fuel depot, fuelling aircraft as they come and go from the skiway and give regular weather observations for the aircraft and to assist in planning at Rothera. The hut used to be a wintering station back in the  1960s and inside today is very much like it was back then. Living is back to basics but with a few nice touches and it makes a nice change to spend a lot of time doing physical work out in the sun (when it’s not snowing or covered in fog!).

Twin Otter arriving for refuel

Draining an AVTUR drum 

The real joy of the Bluff is the situation on the edge of Alexander Island, looking out over the frozen King George VI Sound to Pearce Domethe mountains on the other side. Once the aircraft have gone for  the day there’s just the two of you, 400km  from laptops, Internet and Rothera life,  just a simple hut and a HF radio as your link back to base. If there’s no pressing work to be done you can walk out the back up into the  mountains which is just stunning.

When not working at thElephant Ridge 3e skiway or out on the hills, it’s time to relax – maybe do a jigsaw or a crossword, read a bit of John Le Carre or indulge in traditional Fossil Bluff past times like baking and trying to make the best use of what supplies we have. During my stay, we managed to conjure up pear cake, apple pie, pizza (deep pan, stuffed crust) and fresh croissants 🙂

So, Fossil Bluff, in summary, two weeks of hard physical work made up for with some time to relax and the opportunity for some breathtaking days out on the hill…

Penguins everywhere...Back at Rothera, I found some time for a walk around the Point the other day. Completely changed since the last time I went round, a lot of the snow has melted off so it’s a rocky path around the beach. Plenty of wildlife, whales out in the bay, loads of Adelie penguins and seals sleeping everywhere. The seals are pretty tricky to sNearly stepped on this one, good job it was snoring!pot as they camouflage themselves as large rocks and I nearly stepped on one as I was being chased by some angry Skuas! Whales are fairly plentiful around here at the moment but no decent photos yet. I often see Humpbacks, Minkes or Orcas from the tower but this walk was the first time I’ve been close enough to get a shot and I was more interested in just enjoying it…

The Hot SeatSince getting back from Fossil Bluff it’s been getting fairly dark here at night time. I’ve just got up for a night shift in the tower (our Dash-7 is flying down from Punta Arenas tonight and we have a visiting DC-3 Basler departing at about 3am) and I’ve had to switch the lights on and everything!

  1. 4 Responses to “Two weeks at Fossil Bluff and now back on base…”

  2. By Andy A on Feb 6, 2009

    Outstanding photo with the oil drum! Give up the day job, a life as a male model awaits….


    Andy Reply:

    Ah you like my “patiently draining AVTUR dregs while admiring the view” pose? It’s a good look, I agree, been working on that one for a while… 😉


  3. By Zoe on Feb 7, 2009

    I like that photo too. And the one of the snoozing seal. How relaxed can an animal be?


  4. By Andy A on Feb 11, 2009

    By the way, the use of the phrase ‘what ho peeps’ is simply superb… Contemporary but classic…


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