Merry Christmas to everyone at home! Some of you will have received this by email, but this is for those who's email address I don't have.
Have a lovely day!
Firstly, seasons greetings from the Signy Team.
Secondly, Happy Midwinter to anyone in the northern hemisphere. After a gorgeus day of sunshine, lovely clouds and ice...
...we were treated to a beautiful calm evening. This is how dark it was at midnight.
It is lovely having such long hours of daylight.
At Signy we are busy preparing for Christmas, but there are still a few bits of fieldwork to complete before then. The Adelie colonies are now quite busy as the ever growing chicks demand more and more food.
It always suprises me how quickly they grow!
Whilst out and about doing the whole island chinstrap penguin survey over the last week, we have visited most of the island. There were some rather nice views. These are Cape Petrels.
This is a large pile of Elephant seals.
Gentoo chicks (also growing very fast!).
And some peaks on the icecap.
I'll write about Christmas next time. Meanwhile, I wish everyone at home a lovely Christmas and best wishes for 2018.
The season is moving on- we have been here for almost a quarter of our time already. In another 10 days we'll have reached the longest day here. It doesn't really get dark at night much these days which is rather nice.
The wildlife is also busy progressing through the season. The Adelie penguins now have small chicks.
They are guarding these closely from predators like skuas and giant petrels.
The chinstraps nest about a month later than the Adelies.
They have just finished laying their eggs and now begin the process of incubating them.
We had a nice visitor one day to the beach in front of the station. This little Weddell seal came to visit and seemed very content snoozing on the beach.
Meanwhile, on station things moved on too and we had the second ship visit of the season- the RRS Ernest Shackleton, which called yesterday. It is too big to get to the jetty (so people and cargo are moved in small boats) but it has a shallow draft so can get much closer than our other ship, the James Clark Ross.
The Shackleton brought four new scientists. This bring the number of people on station up to eight, which is the maximum we can fit in. It feels much busier than it did til now as there were only 5 of us for the first part of the season. Claudia, who has been with us from the start but has now finished her science here, left on the ship. She has been collecting small crustaceans from the lakes and shorelines around the island. Here are the original team- Matt, Iain, Me, Catrin and Claudia.
(the orange boilersuits are not compulsary, but they are a firm favourite for wearing around and about- rather like wearing a duvet!)
This will now be the last ship we see until early February when there will be another change of personnel, who will join us for the remainder of the season. The next couple of months will be the busiest- there is much to do!
Happy Antarctica Day!
December 1st is Antarctica Day. This day celebrates the signing of the Antarctic Treaty on 1st December 1959. The Antarctic Treaty, signed by 48 nations is a perfect example of global cooperation between nations, designating the whole of Antarctica as a "natural reserve, devoted to peace and science". The treaty sets aside all claims of territorial ownership by the various nations, and prohibits military activities and mineral extraction. Conventions passed by the treaty nations protect the Antarctic as a whole, enhancing scientific discovery, monitoring the status of the continent and its wildlife (my job) and regulating fishing and tourism to sustainable levels. The treaty has resulted in successful cooperation between all nations, working together for the greater good and is as strong now as when it was first signed.
If you are interested, more information (an interesting read) can be found at https://www.bas.ac.uk/about/antarctica/the-antarctic-treaty/the-antarctic-treaty-explained/
It seems a shame to me that we can't use this as a model for the rest of the world!
We can't celebrate Antarctica Day without some penguins, so here are a few pictures. The Adelies are currently still incubating and the colonies are clean and tidy with each bird sitting on their nest of pebbles, patiently waiting for their eggs to hatch.
Its a long job, so snoozing is often a good way to pass the time...
Yesterday when I went to visit my study birds, it was exceedingly windy and the birds had all turned themselves round to face the wind. This made them look particularly neat and tidy.
From the front the Adelies look rather intimidating! Not something to be messed with. Especially the one in the middle of the picture!
The first egg was just showing signs of hatching yesterday with a pea-sized hole in the shell and a tiny beak showing through. It will hatch fully today- what better day to arrive into the world than on Antarctica Day!