In bird news, I had an arctic tern hovering over the rock the day before yesterday, which was pretty exciting, and in the past few days, most of the gannets have disappeared only to be replaced with greater black backed gulls. The general consensus seemed to be that my mystery birds from the other day were a juvenile kittiwake, a long tailed skua, and a red shank. There seemed to be some interest that the red shank was here, so perhaps that's a first sighting on Rockall?
Having thought that my friend the grey pigeon had left upon arrival of a new brown interloper, it would appear that he is still around and has finally started eating the crumbs I've left out for him on the deck of the RockPod. He's getting much more trusting too, even trying to come in the pod on a couple of occasions, and I've been able to stroke him, but am no closer to getting the rest of the numbers from his leg rings.
The brown pigeon, however, has very clear markings on its rings, which is just as well as he is not so trusting. A light blue ring on the left leg reads '2635', and a green ring on its right leg reads 'GB13 B 33356'. I don't know if there's a central pigeon fanciers' database somewhere, but perhaps with the power of the internet we could track down the owner and let him know where his bird(s) are? There's a well reported magnetic anomaly at Rockall, and I'm wondering if this is why they are still here, being confused which way to go, having landed to rest, as they have both flown some way from the rock only to return.
The days are quietening down more now as I have fewer pre-planned big jobs to be getting on with, and if the weather allows, I'm generally taking the morning very slowly carrying out general admin, writing my blog and diary, and saving anything I have to do outside the pod for the afternoons. Yesterday that meant setting up my Leica Geosystems GNSS satellite survey kit in the late morning, which involved setting a threaded survey marker into the summit, screwing a standing pole to it, and screwing an antenna to that (as per picture on twitter yesterday). The antenna is connected to a base recording unit via a wire, and I placed the unit in the old light housing for protection as I left it running for 24 hours, or until the battery runs out, so didn't want the birds knocking the unit off the summit.
In the afternoon I had a 'conference call' with my telecoms sponsors Inmarsat in London, which was very helpful. We discussed further PR for the expedition, and the fact the magnetic anomaly mentioned above may also be affecting my satellite signal periodically. Its been really great to have Inmarsat on board, with the introduction made by Graham Hart-Ives, now at Wireless Innovation, whom I first spoke to a couple of years ago in planning the expedition. He then worked for a much larger satellite communications company; they didn't continue their support of Rockall Solo this year, but thankfully Graham did and that means that, via Inmarsat and a Cobham Explorer BGAN unit, you can read this blog and my Tweets, and I can communicate with the outside world on a fairly regular basis, which is important, not just to tell the story and spread the work about the expedition in the hope that will raise more funds for Help for Heroes, but also for my own sanity!
This morning I reached for small book of knots that I brought out with me, and managed, I'm proud to say, to tie my first monkey's fist (look it up) which I've always fancied doing, but never seem to have the time. I'm fairly chuffed with it for a first go, but will try and perfect it. This small book, along with the knot 'bible', the 'Ashley Book of Knots', as recommended by the ocean rower Leven Brown, which I have on PDF, are amongst the things that I've brought with me to keep my mind active and stave off the boredom. Most of them, like the harmonica and Italian lessons, I'm going to try and leave until I absolutely have to resort to them. In the mean time, it's still nice to enjoy actually having the time to think, ponder and enjoy my ever changing surroundings, which I'm not sure I've had the time to do since I was a teenager.
This afternoon, I took down the GNSS survey kit and backed up the data collected over the past twenty four hours or so. I'll repeat the whole process at least once if not twice more whilst I'm here in order to get several datasets when the relevant satellites are in different positions. In this way, hopefully, we'll get the most accurate position and height for Rockall recorded. I also used a weighted rope, as the cliff on the East side of the rock was leeward of the wind, and took some rough measurements of the height of the summit plateau and the height of the lip at the top of the cliff just below Hall's Ledge above the seaweed line.
I'm also expecting a visitor tomorrow, but more of that if it happens. Watch this space…
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