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Bird Island, South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands
I work as a Zoological Field Assistant, and am the 2009 Winter Base Commander, at Bird Island Research Station, one of the British Antarctic Survey's five research bases in Antarctica. The main remit of my job is seal fieldwork as part of BAS' Long Term Monitoring and Survey programme. Science has been carried out on Bird Island since 1958. I work with Antarctic fur seals and leopard seals, as well as assisting with the seabird fieldwork programme. Contact me on: ewanedwards at gmail dot com

Saturday, 27 October 2007

26.10.2007 - Falkland Islands

I arrived in Stanley with about 25 other southbound BAS personnel (known as Fids, after the original name for BAS - Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey) on Wednesday afternoon. The flight was long and pleasantly uneventful in a clapped-out DC-10, punctuated by about an hour and a half in the warm rain at Ascension Island - just enough time to have a coffee and get a passport stamp! The approach to RAF Mount Pleasant was stunning - a lovely clear day greeted us in the Falkland Islands, with a cracking view across all the islands as we came in to land. RRS James Clark Ross (the BAS ship upon which I would be transported to Bird Island) had arrived in Stanley the night before, so we were straight on to the ship rather than a night or two in the Upland Goose Hotel. From the berth at FIPASS (Falkland Interim Port and Storage System) it was a 25-minute walk into the centre of Port Stanley. On Thursday morning a number of us took a walk into town, and got soaked by the torrential rain that started just after leaving the ship with full confidence that it was going to stay dry...

We are going to be here in Stanley until probably Monday, whilst we wait on the arrival of an engineer to arrive to carry out some maintenance on the ship. Which means, we've got plenty time to see the sights. Yesterday a group of us visited Volunteer Point, a two-hour ride on a Land Rover (mostly offroad) to see the king penguins, and Thursday afternoon we walked out to Gypsy Cove to see the Magellanic penguins and other nesting birds, near to the beautiful but (believed to be) heavily mined beach, a sad remnant of the conflict here 25 years ago.

Although some of the Fids returning South for the nth time aren't too excited at the prospect of yet another few days in Stanley, for us first-timers it is nice to have some time off, a short holiday before getting stuck in to our assorted jobs either on the ship or on base. Assuming we depart on Monday, from then on its fairly weather dependent - we may go straight to Bird Island if they get a weather window, or carry out a planned science cruise first, before attempting to get ashore at BI, or possibly (and the most favourable option for me) go to King Edward Point on South Georgia first, before going back up to Bird Island, allowing us to see a bit more of the area than just the wee rock upon which I'll reside for 29ish months!

Life on the ship thus far is fun - the crew are friendly and the food is good and there'll be plenty things to do or not to do, whether I decide to take it as a holiday and just watch from the deck for birds and whales, or help out with the science cruise.

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