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.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Two Weeks Left

We have had a fairly mild summer at Signy this year, which has meant quite a lot of grey foggy days and rain instead of snow.  While this doesn't look as pretty, it actually makes working much easier, as it is easier to walk around the island and doesn't feel as cold.  However, winter decided to return to us this week.  We had almost a week of blizzards and gales.  Below you can see the change from summer to winter at Gourlay.

Now the storm had passed we are all able to get out doors again and finish of the last bits and pieces of fieldwork before the end of the season.  We have only a couple of weeks now before the ship comes.  For me this involed a final trip over the icecap to count the giant petrel chicks.

An enormous flat iceberg has been hanging around just off the North coast of Signy for most of the season.  In the wild weather, this finally seems to have collapsed into three smaller, but still fairly substantial bergs.  Whilst out, we took some time to walk to the Northernmost point of the island to look down on it from above.

From down at sea level it was truly enormous- Note the small person for scale!

The chinstrap penguin chicks have now also fledged, so the colonies are very quiet.  The colonies are not completely empty as the adult chinstraps and gentoos have returned to moult and grow new feathers, ready for next year.

With the last of the chicks gone, it is time to turn my attention to the end of season duties, such as counting everything on station so we know what to order for next year, packing up cargo, waste and biological samples to be sent out on the ship and starting to close down the station for the winter.

The Shackleton, the ship which is coming to pick us up, is currently at Bird Island, South Georgia.  You can follow its progress to Signy by looking at the ships webcam at:

https://www.bas.ac.uk/data/our-data/images/webcams/rrs-ernest-shackleton-webcam/ 

or by following the ship tracker at:

http://www.sailwx.info/shiptrack/shipposition.phtml?call=ZDLS1

It is currently due to arrive at Signy around 20th March, but this is subject to change.