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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

Thursday, 20 March 2008

20.03.2008 - February and March

Bird Island, map from Google Earth

The tall ship (barque) Europa, seen from the cliffs 19.03.2008

Wilsons storm petrels dance on the water whilst feeding

The first snow of winter, 20.03.2008

Don searching for untagged puppies at SSB, early March

Another happy customer

The second half of the summer has been action packed, although not with the same intensity of November and December. Don and I have been deploying tiny geolocator devices on young male fur seals, and more recently on adult females, to find out where they go during the winter. All the male seals have gone and only females and pups remain, the mums returning for a few days at a time to feed their pups, and then go back to sea to feed themselves. They are looking noticeably healthier now that they have put a bit of weight back on after giving birth around Christmas time.

The wandering albatross chicks are hatching too. They will remain with us through til November or December when they will finally leave, so it will be nice to see them grow throughout the winter as their parents return now and again to feed them. The census at the end of January revealed the highest number of breeding birds around the island for a few years, although nothing to get really excited about as they are still threatened by accidental drowning on fishing gear whilst feeding all around the Southern Ocean.

Robin, Claire and Helen left mid-February on the RRS James Clark Ross, and it was sad to see them go, but it was nice to be down to a team of seven for a while. The arrival of Chris Martin, a plumber coming in to do some project work, at the beginning of March has pushed our current number up to eight, which is a good, comfortable number. Any more and it starts to feel a little crowded, which is great socially, but for living and working can be a little intense. It is not so bad when you are used to a boarding house of fifty boys though, and I think I could cope with anything!

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