So here are Erika and my reminisces of our second day in the lovely (cold) Nullarbor.............
We woke up at about 6am and pottered around until we had breakfast at 6.30. Geoff made some lovely porridge which is a great way to start the day, especially as it was cold, misty and drizzly when we woke up. We spent some more time re-arranging the truck and also making sure that the kitchen area was neat and tidy. This is very important to keep this area clean so that flies and other visitors are not attracted to this area, we don't want dingos or any other animals eating our stuff! Another important job was to get the quad bike out which Geoff was very excited about using!
Here's the porridge in action! As you can see we have a couple of gas stoves for cooking, as well as the fire. Kath is making her own porridge (small pan nearest camera) as she can't have gluten (special Kath porridge!) and ours is in the big pan next to it. We put the kitchen right next to the truck to shelter this area from the wind - we didn't want all our kitchen stuff blowing away in the almost incessant strong winds. Kath and Erika made some lovely sandwiches for lunch and we also used some of the left over rabbit stew to make jaffels - aka toasted sandwiches.
We left the camp at about 11 am and drove up to the first site with Geoff on the quad bike and Kath, Alex, Erika and me in the Prado. We carried out two types of searches here, line searching and radial or star searcing. Both of these are systematic search patterns, the idea being you know exactly what ground you have covered and also that you can be confident that you have not missed any areas out. We did not find anything at this first site so we decided to move onto the second search area. We walkied up to the area in a line but walking at our own pace and also in a fairly random pattern. Erika thought she may have found a meteorite but it wasn't to be - it was a meteorwrong! Unfortunately there are rocks in this area that do look a bit like meteorites. These are iron-rich sedimentary rocks which can often be rounded in shape, have a dark brown surface and will cause the compass needle to deflect a bit - all the sort of characteristics that we expect with a real meteorite. I said that I didn't think it was a meteorite but we logged its position with the GPS just in case and collected it to double check with Alex the next time the group got together.
This is an example of the sort of areas where we were hunting. This is one of the more tricky areas to hunt as there are lots of dense bushy areas - these are the areas where most snakes were spotted! Hence why we called those types of areas 'snake bush'!
No meteorites this day but I found the tiniest fragment of a worked tektite towards the end of the day. By about 4.30pm we were getting tired and our concentration levels were going so we decided to head back to the camp. All day it had been very overcast and this makes it not very easy to scan the ground as there is little contrast - the light is very 'flat'. Searching in these conditions is very tiring on the eyes and by the end of the day I was getting a bit of a headache and my eyes felt very tired.
We did some administration where we noted down the GPS co-ordinates of where we had searched and then we prepared dinner, which tonight was chorizo, potato, onion and tomato dish that our Michelin starred chef Prof Bevan prepared. Again it was DELICIOUS!
After dinner we chatted around the fire, told more jokes and discussed our plans for searching the next day. Although it had been very cloudy we did get one benefit - a most spectacular sunset, which our star photgrapher Erika captured. Note ALL THE PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS BLOG ARE ERIKA'S AND MUST NOT BE USED WITHOUT ERIKA and NHM PERMISSION!!!!!!!!!
Another job after dinner was to go spider hunting! As mentioned in a previous posting we had been asked by the entomologists at the WAM to collect spiders for them, so we decided tonight would be a good night to carry out the inaugural spider wrangling of this trip. Of course this may also have been influenced by having full stomachs and a bit of dutch courage! Spider hunting is quite easy, we walk around the camp with our head torches on and look for the sparkling eyes (lots of them!) of the spiders, then we hunt them down! I participated by helping spot the spiders but that was it! I took no part in catching them but simply helped by shining my head torch helpfully whilst the catching was going on by Geoff and Alex! I was very impressed with Kath and Erika - after their initial reluctance to help, by the end of the safari they were very engaged and even were helping with the catching!
After the excitement of the spider hunting and catching we headed off to our tents and swags, hopefully to get a good sleep to prepare us for the next day.