About Me

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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

Monday, 12 November 2007

12.11.2007 - Week One

Part of 'Big Mac' macaroni penguin colony

Fur seal mother and pup, gentoo penguin, giant petrel, skuas and many male fur seals

The first mother and newborn pup...

...not so cute when they grow into this!

A grey-headed albatross

An adult wandering albatross

A soon-to-fledge wandering albatross chick practising take-off

Young wandering albatross

Parent feeds chick

Bird Island is the most amazing place. One week after my arrival and the settling-in process is well underway. In this short time I have managed to get out and see a lot of the island - not exploring in depth though, as I have over two years to do that. Although the seal work has begun, with daily trips to SSB and other jobs to be sorted out before the females and their new pups arrive and the beaches become nearly unpassable, I have managed to get out to assist with both the albatross and penguin fieldwork, allowing me not only to explore the island further, but to get close to more of the amazing wildlife.

Life on base is fun and sociable. There are eight of us currently, one person is the cook each day, and prepares the evening meal and makes bread. Everyone is busy during the day with their various jobs - currently I am shadowing Donald, the outgoing seal man, learning all the tricks of the trade, as next year I will be doing it by myself. The albatross team, Robin and Derren, are also doing their handover, and Fabrice, the penguin researcher, is going about his daily routine alone, as he will be handing over to a replacement next year. Rob the plumber/general technician is constantly busy with the upkeep of the base, and John the Base Commander, also new in the job, has copious administrative tasks to fill his time, but still finds the time to get out and assist the scientists most days. Claire, a visiting scientist from Cambridge, is trying to fit in as much as possible - both her own work, and finding out what the others all do on Bird Island. All the new folk are starting to get to grips with the routine, and our ability to travel through waist-deep tussock grass on steep terrain is improving daily!

The first female fur seal was spotted on November 10th, and her pup, the first one of the year, was born the day after. The wandering albatross chicks, after the best part of a year on the nest, are stretching their wings ready for their first flight, and the penguins, smaller albatrosses/mollymauks and petrels are sitting on eggs, guarding them stubbornly from the skuas.

The weather is still cold by night, and not much warmer during the day. We have had flurries of snow nearly every day, although it usually comes to nothing, with the strong spring sunshine that we have seen from time to time. We have been blessed with some very fine, dry weather, although this, I am told, is atypical of Bird Island: drizzle and mist is more common, especially at this time of year.

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