Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Twitching

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First of all, apologies for the lack of photos on my first blog. I had a very weak satellite signal due to bad weather and just wanted to get something out quickly rather than wait for photos to upload and risk losing the connection.

 

I saw my first solitary puffin today which prompted the title for this blog, as the most common animal out here are birds. Really that all there is apart from two or three seals that appear at the base of the rock every now and again, and a minke whale which reappeared today after only having seen it briefly on day one, just after the boat left.

 

The most common birds here are gannets and guillemots, although there are also kittiwakes, fulmars, and a few razorbills. Yesterday's big surprise was that a pigeon turned up! Not a lovely fat woodpigeon but the Trafalgar Square type of rock dove. Normally I'm not a fan, but it was nice to sit a watch him pootle around the rock looking vainly for some scraps, the iridescent green and pink on his neck glimmering in the sun. He even flew round the other side of the rock on some hopeless quest for more land, but soon returned and came very close so that I could see it had two leg rings, red on the right, with the number 496, and green on the left. I'm assuming it's a lost racing pigeon, he was still here this morning, and I fed him a bit of biscuit brown, but I couldn't read any markings on the green band to pass on to a pensive owner.

 

I have a bird identification chart with me as I'm not really a twitcher, but still I have three mystery birds already. A photo of one is attached: its small, brown and has a long thin beak. There seems to be two types, one with a white belly and one without. Male and female perhaps? Any suggestions on a postcard. The second is about the size of a kittiwake, but has a grey band a cross the back of its neck, a black band across the tip of its tail, and patchy grey wings. The third it a larger bird which is mostly dark brown/black in colour (not a skua), with a white band across the back of its neck and a long thin tail feather trailing behind a bit like a bird of paradise. Any names would be interesting.

 

In other news, the Ampair wind turbine is holding up to some pretty strong winds, which hopefully means I've put it up well enough, and is silently spinning away lighting the lovely green 'charging' light on my battery charge controller. Not only does this mean that I don't have to be quite so frugal with my power usage, Italian lessons may start soon, but it also means that I can pretty much guarantee that I'll have enough power to transmit live to television in the next few days, which will be a first. I unfortunately missed a slot on BBC Breakfast on Sunday morning due to low thick cloud and high winds meaning that we could not do the test call, but the forecast is fair for the rest of the week, so I'm hopefully I'll be able to do something – watch Twitter (@RockallNick) for updates.

 

Aside from that, the transition to 'Rockall time' is going well. I'm definitely slowing down and fitting tasks to the time I have rather than rushing to get stuff done as I would at home, or had to in the first few days here. I'm also getting a lot of, if fitful, sleep at night which obviously eats into the hours. Health wise, I'm also (touch wood) not too bad either. I picked up a calf strain in the first couple of days which seems to be slowly getting better, and a cut on my finger, which I got whilst landing and had, unsurprisingly, become infected has also cleared and appears to be healing well thanks to a combination of the medical kit provide by Dr Mike Boyle and the waterproof Showa 377 work gloves I was asked to test out here, protecting it from the guano whilst I was out and about the past few days.

 

I wrote most of the above this morning, and may have spoken too soon about security of power. Just after lunch the sky cleared and the wind dropped to nothing, which is lovely to see, but means no power generation. Its been the same all afternoon, and I've had to retreat to the Rockpod for some shade after an afternoon of collecting water samples for St. Andrews University, and few invertebrates for the Huntarian Museum. The pigeon's still here, and he definitely has a code on the green band, although I may have to catch him to read it…

 

I'm also very excited as tomorrow is clean underpant day. I may have a small party!

 
Nick Hancock FRGS

www.rockallsolo.com
Facebook.com/RockallSolo
Twitter: @RockallNick #RockallSolo
Sponsor Nick in aid of Help for Heroes at www.justgiving.com/rockallsolo

Please forward all Press and Media enquiries regarding the expedition to Iain MacIver
Tel: 0845 860 2411
Email: rockall2014@promessage.com

8 comments:

Damian Sorgiovanni said...

By a strange coincidence tomorrow is my clean underpants day too. Best of luck, Nick, we’re all proud of you.
Damian

ßlϋeωãvε said...

Hi Nick, the bird pictured above looks like a Redshank to me. Not sure about the second one the size of a Kittiwake. The third one with the tail feather sounds like a Long-tailed Jaeger.

All the best.

ßlϋeωãvε said...

Hi Nick, the photo above looks to be a Redshank to me. Not sure what the description of the Kittiwake-sized bird could be. The third one sounds like a Long-tailed Jaeger.

All the best.

Anonymous said...

Good luck from Chicago, stay safe and try not to go mad out there.

Stephen Mitchell said...

Awesome adventure Nick! I'm following from Texas, USA and will look into Help for Hero's. Keep the science coming, very interested to see what that's all about

Anonymous said...

The bird shown in the picture above is a Redshank! Kelvin (@thomsok)

Anonymous said...

The bird in the picture above is a Redshank, must be a late migrant or on route to somewhere a bit more hospitable! Kelvin (@thomsok)

Jay Tea said...

Interesting stuff, glad you finally made it :-) does the pod have air con or vents? Have you prepped for the psychological element of the isolation or will you have enough power to maintain contact with your people and curious ransoms like myself? :-)

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