Winter Field Day 2024 will soon be upon us, and #TeamTopLeft took the gear out during one of the coldest days in the history of Victoria.

We set up at a POTA twofer, Hatley Park Natural Historical Site (POTA VE-5326) and the Esquimalt Lagoon Migratory Bird Sanctuary (POTA VE-3487).

Hatley Castle was completed in 1908 and served as the dormitory and mess hall for cadets and staff officers at Royal Roads Military College. It is now the administrative centre of Royal Roads University and houses the President, Vice-President, and administrative support staff.

The lagoon was protected in 1931 and features a wide variety of animals. Large numbers of waterbirds including the American coot, mallard, northern pintail, green-winged teal and American wigeon can be seen in the shallow water along the edges of the lagoon and the northeastern end of the lagoon. Deeper waters, particularly on the north side, are where you are most likely to spot diving ducks such as canvasback, bufflehead and ruddy duck. 

Rare birds observed in the area include Eurasian wigeon, hooded merganser, black oystercatcher, American golden-plover, common tern and western meadowlark.

According to the Canadian government, “This area is also known to be an important loafing site. However, with freezing temps and even worse wind chill, we did very little loafing…

Snowy ground and below freezing temperatures were the perfect conditions to push our gear and batteries to their limits.

The antenna performed well and we were able to run digital and voice off of the IC-7300.

While we weren’t there long, we still managed to QSO on SSB with Alaska and Argentina, and make an FT8 contact with AF6HO in California who was only running 2 watts!

FT8, SSB contacts on 20M and 15M