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.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Winter arrives...

After what feels like months of rain and wind, Signy suddenly decided to throw some different weather at us for a change.  The temperature dropped to about -6 degrees and the rain turned to snow.  We awoke one morning to the most gorgeous day, with a good three inches of fluffy, powdery snow covering everything, big blue skies and gusts of wind that made flurries of snow sparkle and form little rainbows.  Signy had changed from summer to winter overnight!  Recently, sea ice has also started blowing in again from futher South, which had been absent for a few weeks now.  All of this, plus the shortening day length has added to the feeling that winter is now well on its way.   

We were treated to some heavy and dramatic lenticular (lens-shaped) clouds over Coronation Island on this day too, which made for some dramatic photographs.  Here is Roberto is a snow flurry.

And here are some of the clouds forming over Coronation Island (you can't see the lens shape, or the way they pile up on top of eachother very well in this picture unfortunately)

Workwise, things are finally starting to calm down a little.  My chinstrap penguins have just started fledging, and in another couple of weeks every one will be gone.  I am being kept busy with chick weighing.  I have also moved all my nest marker bricks (with a little help from my obliging field assistant!) back to the work huts ready to be cleaned.  After this they will be stacked into the huts ready for putting back out into the colonies next season.  The problem I currently have is that the pond where I normally wash my bricks has just frozen over- half the bricks are now frozen into the pond, and the other half are sitting on the ice, waiting for it to melt so they fall in.  I am hoping for another week of mild weather to enable me to finish this task!

Our two Italian Scientists Roberto and Francesco are also hoping for a tiny bit more summer- they are mapping the vegetation and geomorphological features on Signy.  If it snows too much they can't see what they are trying to look at! 

Now that the nights are drawing in, it means that we don't have to stay up ridiculously late to see the sun set.  Here are some good clouds we had at sunset a few nights ago. 

Thats all for now.  Its only about 5 weeks now til the ship comes to pick us up.  Not long now til we need to start thinking about cargo to be sent out and all the things that need to be done to prepare Signy for being left alone for the winter.