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, 22 December 2009

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!

This is just a note to wish everyone who reads my blog a Merry Christmas and a Happy New year. Thank you all for the Christmas greetings you have sent. I hope you are all enjoying the winter snow that sounds to be plentiful this year. Sounds like you will be getting more of a white Christmas than me this year. Yesterday was Midsummer’s day here and we enjoyed an unusually calm sunny day with temperatures of +6 degrees! It makes such a refreshing change when after days of fog, the skies clear and the sun shines. If this miraculously coincides with a calm day the combination is a gorgeously warm and beautiful day. Sadly today again it is raining (which is why I am inside writing this instead of outside with my camera!). In summer temperatures are normally just above freezing so we usually get rain instead of snow (although snow can and does occur at any time of year).

It always seems odd having Christmas in the middle of summer. Still, it’s never very warm so it’s not too unlike the UK. The main difference is that it barely gets dark at this time of year. This is the second of my three Christmases down here- only another one before my time here is done, and I’m back to wondering what to do next with my life! But, I’ve still got another 16 months to decide that so I’ll not start worrying yet!

Christmas is looking like being a festive affair- the Christmas decorations are up, as is the tree. I made a Christmas cake a few weeks ago and decorated it this week. Last night we sat down to make a list of things we intend to eat over the Christmas period- I don’t think we will be going hungry! There are 10 of us on base at the moment which i think is a nice number to have for Christmas festivities. Small amounts of work still continue despite it being Christmas (nest checks etc) but this just helps work up an appetite for the next meal! Christmas celebrations will begin tomorrow night (Christmas Eve) with mulled wine and mince pies at the Seal Study Beach where all the seal research is carried out. Here there is a raised gantry, where we can sit above the seals and enjoy them without getting bitten!!!

Its busy here- the beach at the front of the base is full of sounds and smell of fur seals and their pups. They lay all around the base, and some nights they are almost deafening as the females and pups call backwards and forwards to each other. All the penguin chicks are just starting to hatch elsewhere on the island as are the grey-headed and black-browed albatrosses. The last of the wandering albatross chicks are just leaving the island, after sitting on their nests for over a year, slowly changing from a tiny fluffy chick into the smart birds they look now. As it takes over a year for a chick to mature, Wanderers only breed every two years. The next cohort of birds have already arrived, and have just started laying eggs- these will hatch into the chicks that will stay with us through the winter and leave next Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone!