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Author: Lizzie

Date:  12 Nov 2011
Temperature: -7.7
Wind Speed: 14.9 gusting 20 SE
Temp with wind chill: -19

Last night we had the neighbours around for dinner ….yes, despite the isolation there is another camp about 500m away from us, where the American Penguin Scientists Dave, Katie and Jean will be based from mid November through to late January. They are part of an ongoing research programme which studies the penguin populations of Ross Island, looking at breeding habits, population statistics, feeding and foraging patterns and general health and habits of the birds. The colony here at Cape Royds is relatively small, being only about 2000 breeding pairs, but with the ice edge close by this year (about 1km from the colony), food is abundant, and the penguins are sleek and fat and just starting to lay their eggs.
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The sea ice and sea ice edge, Cape Royds © AHT/Lizzie

We enjoyed listening to Jean and Katie tell us about the penguins, and if you would like to know more they have an excellent website, including several penguin web-cams, which can be found at www.penguinscience.com
Meanwhile, whenever we have a calm evening you will find us out after work on the rocky outcrops above the penguin colony, watching the Adelies on their nests, and looking out for the smaller numbers of Emperors who come in to the sheltered spots below the Adelie colony to rest and preen.

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Emperor penguins through binoculars © AHT/Lizzie

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Author:  Al

Date:    25 November 2011


“It blew and blew and when he thought it could blow no more the wind picked up and it blew some more!”


The bright yellow polar tents greeted their old friend from the south by quivering in excitement.  Each gust tug, tug, tugging at the cold metal tent pegs firmly hammered home into the frozen scoria at Cape Royds.


As the Tormentor violently shook the tent canvas, the guy ropes hung like the rigging in a sailing ship riding out a storm in the roaring forties.  BLOW YOU *#@#* BLOW!  If we could only reef in the sails so we could get some sleep.  Peace, peace.


After unrelenting days of being buffeted you feel like screaming into the cold face of the Tormentor, STOP!  But your words would only get carried away in the next gust before they can be heard.  Frayed canvas and frayed nerves, tired but unable to get a restful night’s sleep, never asleep or never awake as the tent flaps against your sleeping bag cocoon.  In this slumberland you can’t help but ponder the thought of the thin canvas fabric being ripped away leaving you exposed and naked to the elements while your cold weather clothing is whipped across the thin white frozen skin of the Ross Sea.

 

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The wind stops as suddenly as it starts, the loud silence is a foreigner in the field camp. Only the chatter of the neighbouring Adelie penguins can be heard.  It will be impossible to get to sleep with this deathly silence. Every slight movement, cough or scratch will be amplified to the field camp in the stillness of the night, all privacy lost.


Where is the crazy Tormentor from the south?  No-one to sing and sway us to sleep tonight. Then there is a gentle breeze, a cold lick to the cheek, followed by the first gust from the south. Once again the tents begin to quiver in excitement.  Welcome back my friend from the south.  WELCOME BACK.  It’s a love hate relationship we have.

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Author: Paula
Date: 15 November 2011

The Antarctic Heritage Trust conservators have recently moved from the confines of their conservation lab at Scott Base, to their Antarctic field camp at Cape Royds.

 

John bid farewell to winter conservator Sarah and welcomed the incoming team of conservation carpenters who work over the summer months on the buildings left behind by the heroic-era explorers.

 

The team is currently working at Ernest Shackleton’s British Antarctic (Nimrod) expedition 1907-1909 at Cape Royds. Communication is patchy when the team is out in the field. Although there is a satellite (sat) phone, the team relies on visitors who do literally ‘just drop in’ by helicopter with supplies and mail and who in turn relay information (including blogs) to Scott Base and New Zealand.

 

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Ernest Shackleton's base at Cape Royds.  Credit:  G Rowe

 

The conservation team are completing a few tasks at Cape Royds, including relocating the Arrol Johnston wheel and Mawson’s Dredge which were conserved over winter 2011, before they move on to their main work programme this summer season conserving Captain Scott’s British Antarctic Terra Nova Expedition 1910- 1913 base at Cape Evans.

 

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Each summer the team returns the artefacts that have been conserved during winter at the conservation laboratory at Scott Base back to the historic bases before packing up another 1,000 or so objects destined for conservation over the following winter. This continuous cycle of removal-conservation-return has led to over 5,400 artefacts from Cape Evans alone being conserved.