Since 2011, I have been spending November to April each year working for the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) on Signy Island in the South Orkney Islands, Antarctica. I work as a Zoological Field Assistant on the penguin and seal long-term monitoring programme. Before this, I spent 2.5 years on the sub-Antarctic island of Bird Island, South Georgia, in the South Atlantic.

This blog gives readers an insight into my day-to-day life in the Antarctic, from my first trip south in 2008 to the present day.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Yet more pictures...

Me, in the partly frozen/slushy sea (Derren's photo).

View from the top of La Roche, looking over to South Georgia on a rare gorgeous day.

Sunset in the snow on the way down from La Roche.

Me on the top of La Roche (Derren's photo again).

Friday, 14 August 2009

Mid August...

I’m feeling rather pleased with myself today as for some reason I’ve managed to update this only a couple of weeks after the last time! J This last couple of weeks, the temperature has finally dropped nicely, to around -6 degrees, which is a bit more like what we should be expecting at this time of year. It is cold enough that on days when there is little wind (uncommon when you live on an island just 3 miles long in the middle of the Southern Ocean!) the sea in the bays turns to a strange slushy consistency and starts to freeze into pancakes along the shoreline. It has also been calm enough for the snow that has been falling regularly to settle and form a nice solid base layer that should no longer just blow away on windy days.

Last Saturday Ewan took me out for my very first skiing lesson on the slopes below La Roche. It was good fun and I somehow managed not to break any bones. Hopefully I shall manage to get a bit more practice in the coming weeks. We have a snowboard here too, but I think I’ll try and master the skiing a bit better first before attempting anything else new! Sadly I wasn’t graceful enough for pictures… but maybe next time.

On days of driving snow when we are looking for excuses not to go outside, it has got to the time of year when annual reports have to be written, so we are all working away on our Bird and Mammal report to be sent to Cambridge and reports for beach debris, seal entanglements and fishing hooks/devices found inside the albatrosses that go to CCAMLR- the convention that protects the Southern Ocean environment and ecosystem. We have also been busy doing jobs that would have been Dave’s if he had still been here- such as fixing things that have gone wrong, cleaning and disinfecting the water system, testing the fire pumps and alarms, and servicing the generators. It makes a nice change to do something practical- a bit different to the usual science!

The bay in front of the base has been full of wildlife in the last couple of weeks. One day we watched a leopard seal killing a young fur seal in the bay, which attracted lots of gulls, giant petrels and cape petrels. There have been masses of terns feeding along the coastline, sometimes accompanied by up to 15 snow petrels. These little pure white petrels are gorgeous, and like many petrels, dance on the water to feed. They have been feeding close to shore, so we managed to get some lovely pictures. Some days they fly so close you could almost reach out and touch them. No one here has seen them in such numbers before- they are normally seen as a little white thing shooting past along the cliff top, gone before the camera can be taken out, and unusual enough to be mentioned at dinnertime.

We have installed a new sunshine recorder on our weather station. Today it has recorded 33 minutes of sunshine already, which means its time I stopped staring at my computer and went outside with my camera.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

A few wintery scenes....

Ice around the jetty.

Strange ice formations that resembled trees.

La Roche, with South Georgia behind on a sunny day.

Ice forming on the Jetty (with the still functional jetty bog behind).

Top Meadows with Willis Islands in the background.

Flagstone pond, frozen over, with Tonk behind.

A few birds...

Snow petrel in Main Bay.

King penguin on Freshwater Bay in front of the base.

Young Antarctic tern on Freshwater Beach.

Snowy sheathbill (known as a Mutt around here) on Freshwater Beach.

Chinstrap penguin at Evermann Cove (we don't get many of these).

South Georgia Pintails- our endemic, carniverous duck.