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.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Late January

By late January, everything is moving on.  We are past mid season which is a milestone mentally as it becomes necessary to start thinking about plans for once the season is over and writing job applications- until this point it is so far ahead that not much can be planned.  At Signy there is still a lot to do.  The weather has been pretty dismal in the last couple of weeks, with warm temperatures giving us several days of heavy rain, and frequent fog.  This hasn't been great for pictures so apologies that most of these are not very bright!
Last week we visited the gentoo penguins up at the North end of the island to count all of the chicks.  The chicks are getting quite big.


The gentoo chicks are lovely.  Unlike the Adelies, they seem to have the sense to move out of their guano-covered colonies as soon as they are big enough, so they manage to remain clean and tidy.


The shag chicks at North point are also getting quite large.  They are brown at present but will change colour when their feathers grow. 


The chinstrap chicks are also growing well.

On Friday the RRS Ernest Shackleton came to visit. 


It came to take away two of our scientists, Alex and JB, who have been with us since just before Christmas.  Alex has been working with me, flying a drone to conduct a whole island aerial surveys of chinstrap penguins. 



At this time of year the Antarctic fur seals turn up in large numbers.  They are usually sub-adult males who are not big enough to hold territories on the breeding beaches of South Georgia.


This one was special.  It has a red flipper tag, and the number on it tells us that it was tagged as a pup on Bird Island in the 2012/13 season!  What are the chances of him turning up on Signy in a place where I could spot his tags!

There are some strange creatures in the Antarctic waters. 


This crustacean (identified as the amphipod Paraceradocus) washed up on the beach one day and was brought in for a photograph before being released.

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