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, 2 December 2014

Gourlay

For me, the first task of the season is to head over to my main penguin study site at Gourlay, which is about 45 minutes walk from Base.  I intensively monitor 100 chinstrap nests and 100 adelie nests here throughout the season, visiting them every couple of days, to obtain laying and hatching dates for each nest.  From this I can then tell when to do larger scale counts around the rest of the island.  To make sure I check the same nests each time, I have plastic nest marker bricks which have to be put out into the colonies at the start of the season.  Moving 200 bricks takes quite a long time as they are stored in our work huts over the winter, but it certainly keeps me fit!

Here are my numbered bricks waiting to be allocated nests...


Here are my chosen penguins with their bricks (they have to be this big to prevent the penguins stealing each others and swapping them around- which I'm sure they do deliberately to confuse me!).


When I walked across to Gourlay today I couldn't help feeling a tiny bit smug about life.  Here is why...  This is my commute to work.  You can just see the red flags marking the route.  My options are either to walk, or to ride on my childens plastic sledge to get there.  Not a traffic jam in sight! 


Upon arrival, this is my "office" at Gourlay...

This is the view from my office...

And this is one of my workmates...


In the evening I head back to a cosy warm base, a comfortable bed, and a tasty dinner made by whoever is the cook for the day.  Life could be much worse!  On Non-Gourlay days, I visit other areas of the island for various reasons, collecting samples, doing counts and surveys, or if it is blowing a gale and driving snow outside I might remain on base catching up with data entry and sometimes even updating my blog!   

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