South Georgia Newsletter, January 2015

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- Disclaimer: This newsletter is not produced by GSGSSI; it does not necessarily reflect their views.

Clean Sweep?

By Environment Officer Jennifer Lee

Following many years hard work of planning, and two years of field operations, in January two marksmen from the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (SNO) made one final sweep of the Barff Peninsula in order to locate and shoot any reindeer that remained.

The operation to eradicate reindeer from South Georgia began in 2013. A combination of herding and ground shooting were used in the Busen area with Sami herders gathering around 1,000 animals and SNO ground shooters removing another 1,000 animals from areas where the terrain meant herding was not possible. As shooting in the Busen area took less time than anticipated, marksmen were also deployed on the Barff Peninsula where a further 1,555 reindeer were killed. The following year, a team of six marksmen worked to remove the remaining reindeer on the Barff Peninsula and were successful in shooting 3,140 animals.

In the months since the main cull of the Barff heard took place, field parties and aerial searches had been undertaken to determine how many reindeer remained and where they were located. In January 2015 two of the SNO marksmen returned to conduct a final sweep. Just prior to their arrival HMS Dragon visited the island and identified a group of 21 reindeer close to the tip of the peninsula. In an incredible feat of efficiency and professionalism, within 6 hours of being deployed to the field, the two marksmen has shot these 21 animals and harvested some of the meat ready for collection the next day by staff from KEP.

One of the marksmen searching for any remaining reindeer on the Barff Peninsula. Photo SNO.
One of the marksmen searching for any remaining reindeer on the Barff Peninsula. Photo SNO.

As expected, in the absence of reindeer, vegetation has started to recover from the severe overgrazing it had been subject to for more than 100 years. Interestingly, the marksmen were able to use this to their advantage and could often determine where the reindeer were located by looking at the height and composition of the vegetation. In areas where even a small number of reindeer persisted, the grass was short and cropped whereas the valleys, which had had a year to recover, were lush and thickly vegetated.

Early signs of vegetation recovery now the reindeer have gone. Photo SNO.
Early signs of vegetation recovery now the reindeer have gone. Photo SNO.

In the subsequent three weeks, the marksmen worked their way south and shot a further 15 animals at Penguin Bay, 5 at the top of Sorling Valley and 3 close to St Andrews Bay. This brings the total number of reindeer killed on the Barff Peninsula to 4,739, and the total number of reindeer eradicated on South Georgia to over 6,700. In the coming weeks, eagle eyed field workers and helicopter pilots will continue to search for any signs of reindeer.

Unexpected Overnight Visitors

A large party of tourists, trapped ashore by strong winds, had to be accommodated at Grytviken for the night on January 23rd. The tourists had been visiting the old whaling station at Grytviken for the afternoon and were in the process of being taken back to their ship when the wind suddenly increased. When the wind hit 55 knots the Captain of the vessel decided to halt the Zodiac boat operations for safety reasons. The wind continued to increase and did not abate that evening.

When landing, tour ships land emergency gear in the first boat in case of events like these. Luckily for the 67 passengers and five staff still ashore, there were more comfortable quarters than a shelter bag available.

Initially chairs, tables and reading matter were brought into the main museum display areas to allow passengers to sit and relax. Later, with the wind increasing to 80 knots, it became apparent that the passengers would not be able to return to their vessel that night and a new strategy was required. Under the guidance of the Government Officers, staff from GSGSSI, South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT), British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and the cruise ship staff prepared beds and food for the stranded passengers.

Emergency stores, kept in case of this sort of event, were ferried to the museum, and whilst the museum staff started cooking a two-course dinner for 70, many other willing hands cleared spaces in the surrounding buildings and laid out mattresses, blankets and pillows. One large dormitory for thirty was set up in a building currently being refurbished, with other mattresses and beds in the Post Office, Carr Maritime Gallery, museum and museum staff house. Soon the passengers were settling in for the night.

Moving mattresses into the Slop Chest.
Moving mattresses into the Slop Chest.
The Slop Chest ready for the unexpected visitors to bed down.
The Slop Chest ready for the unexpected visitors to bed down.

Museum Director Sarah Lurcock said, “It was an extraordinary sight to see people sleeping in the galleries around the museum displays. One gentleman looked very comfy under a cabinet displaying marine specimens, whilst others had mattresses arranged around our replica of Shackleton’s lifeboat James Caird."

The wind had abated by 4am, so the vessel Captain called to arrange to pick everyone up. The passengers, who were still sleeping soundly, were woken and by 5.30am they were enjoying a superb dawn light as they returned to the ship for a hearty breakfast and to continue their travels and adventures.

Early next moring the stranded passengers were sleeping comfortably in the Carr Maritime Gallery. Photo Andrew Bishop.
Early next moring the stranded passengers were sleeping comfortably in the Carr Maritime Gallery. Photo Andrew Bishop.

Government Officer Pat Lurcock said, "It was brilliant to see how everyone pulled together, the GSGSSI builders, SGHT museum team, British Antarctic Survey staff, and ship staff, with many of the passengers offering to help out too! We got everything needed to make the passengers comfortable and provide sustenance. It was also a good practice for our emergency incident response as, though the tour operators had got their own contingency supplies for such an event, we could make everybody just that bit more comfortable using the emergency supplies we keep here on the station.”

Sarah Lurcock, who was on the beach to say goodbye to the unexpected overnight guests, said, “The passengers and staff were keen to say thank you to everyone for the hospitality shown. Their unexpected ‘Night at The Museum’ may well end up being the highlight of their trip.”

Within hours there was little evidence that the museum area had been a temporary hostel the night before. Many willing hands helped to return all to normal ready for the next cruise ship visit that afternoon.

Ships, Scientists and Explorers: New Definitive Stamp Issue

Based on text by Robert Burton

Ships, and the scientists and explorers associated with the vessels, are the theme of the new definitive stamp issue that was released on January 5th.

The 1p stamp features the explorer Bill Tilman and his yacht Mischief. Bill Tilman was a well-known mountaineer who bought the pilot cutter Mischief so that he could sail to the Arctic and Antarctic in search of unconquered mountains to climb. In 1966 he sailed to the South Shetland Islands and returned northwards via South Georgia. Mischief was the first private yacht to visit South Georgia. Tilman went missing on a subsequent expedition to Antarctica, when the yacht En Avant disappeared on the way to the Falkland Islands.

The 2p stamp features scientist Sir Alister Hardy and the Discovery Expeditions vessel William Scoresby. Alister Hardy was a zoologist with the Discovery Investigations in 1925 and studied the distribution of plankton and krill in relation to the distribution of whales. He developed the 'continuous plankton recorder' which is still in use around South Georgia today. He worked aboard the research ship William Scoresby, which was used for marking whales with numbered darts to study their migrations.

The 5p stamp features Stanley Kemp and the Discovery Expeditions vessel Discovery. Concern that whaling in the Southern Ocean was becoming unsustainable led to the Discovery Investigations, a pioneering long-term scientific programme to study whale biology and the oceanography and ecology of the Southern Ocean. Stanley Kemp was appointed Director of Research to establish and oversee the scientific programme. The first research vessel was Captain Scott's first expedition ship Discovery. Cruises were centred on the whaling grounds of South Georgia and the South Shetland Islands.

The 10p stamp features Ernest Shackleton and his Imperial Transantarctic Expedition ship Endurance. The Weddell Sea party of the expedition visited South Georgia in November 1914 to take on coal and other stores and refit the ship before sailing for Antarctica. While in Buenos Aires, Shackleton was warned that it might be a bad year for ice in the Weddell Sea so he delayed his departure from South Georgia for a month. This gave time for scientific work to be carried out. Unfortunately most of the records and specimens were lost when Endurance was crushed by the ice and sank. Shackleton is buried in the cemetery at Grytviken.

The 50p stamp features ornithologist Robert Cushman Murphy and the whaling vessel Daisy. In 1912 Robert Cushman Murphy, one of the founders of seabird science, travelled as a naturalist aboard Daisy which was the last of the old-time sealing and whaling vessels to visit South Georgia. Whilst over 1600 elephant seals were killed for their blubber and whales were hunted from open boats on the voyages to and from South Georgia, Murphy made extensive collections of animals and plants, including over 100 bird skins; he also observed the habits of the birds.

The 70p stamp features Wilhelm Filchner, leader of the German South Polar Expedition, and their ship Deutschland. In 1911 the expedition spent three weeks at South Georgia en route to Antarctica. They made scientific observations and hydrographic surveys of coastal waters which resulted in a much improved chart of South Georgia. The Deutschland also made a brief visit to the South Sandwich Islands but bad weather prevented a landing. The ship was trapped in the pack-ice of the Weddell Sea for the winter. When freed, she returned to South Georgia where she left the expedition's polar equipment, ponies and dogs in the hope that they could be used by a subsequent expedition.

The 80p stamp features Otto Nordenskjöld, leader of the Swedish South Polar Expedition in 1902, and the expedition’s vessel Antarctic. Nordenskjöld, a geologist, set up a shore station on Snow Hill Island on the Antarctic Peninsula and the ship, captained by C.A. Larsen, returned northwards to spend three months at South Georgia where exploration and scientific work was undertaken. Larsen realised the sheltered bay at Grytviken would make an excellent site for a whaling station and returned two years later to initiate the whaling industry on South Georgia.

Carl Anton Larsen is featured on the £1 stamp with the vessel Jason which be briefly brought to South Georgia in 1894 during a whaling cruise to the Antarctic.

The £1.25 stamp features Karl Schrader of the German International Polar Year Expedition and the expedition ship Moltke. In 1882 the expedition set up a research station on land at Moltke Harbour in Royal Bay. Eleven men overwintered in the first land-based scientific expedition on South Georgia. It was part of a worldwide programme of mainly geophysical studies which included an observation of the Transit of Venus.

The £2 stamp features James Weddell and the sealing vessel Jane. In 1823 the sealer and biologist James Weddell made one of the most significant early visits to South Georgia. He took his vessel, Jane, together with the cutter Beaufoy far south into the Weddell Sea which is named after him. South Georgia was visited on the way northward to hunt fur and elephant seals. Weddell's book about the voyage describes the topography of South Georgia, the operations of the sealers in detail, the first record of seismic activity and gives accounts of the habits of seals, penguins and albatrosses.

The £3 stamp features Fabian von Bellingshausen leader of the Russian Naval Expedition and the expedition vessel Vostok. The expedition had two vessels, the sloop Vostok and the transport Mirnyy and the objective was to sail as close to the South Pole as possible. They reached South Georgia in 1819 on their way to Antarctica and surveyed the south coast to complement Cook’s survey of the northern coast. The South Sandwich Islands were also visited and more islands discovered. Bellingshausen then proceeded to circumnavigate Antarctica and is credited with making the first sighting of mainland Antarctica. The expedition is remembered in a number of Russian place names in South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

The £5 stamp features James Cook and his vessel Resolution. In the course of the voyage that made the first circumnavigation of Antarctica, Captain James Cook of the Royal Navy headed for land which had been reported 100 years earlier and so in 1775 he landed at Possession Bay. The crew hoped that they had discovered the continent of Antarctica but when they reached Cape Disappointment they realised they had found only a large island. Detailed descriptions of the island and its natural history were made and observations of numerous fur and elephant seals led to their exploitation by sealers. After leaving what he called 'the Isle of Georgia', Cook sailed south-east and discovered the South Sandwich Islands.

The twelve stamp issue should be current for five years and accompanies a rise in postage rates. An airmail letter weighing 20g or less now costs 75p to post, a postcard 70p.

South Georgia stamps and First Day Covers can be bought from

Final Phase Of Rat Eradication Gets Underway

The RRS Shackleton was chartered by the SGHT to bring in the three helicopters and field team and lay caches ready for the baiting to begin in the three helicopters and field team and lay caches ready for the baiting to begin.
The RRS Shackleton was chartered by the SGHT to bring in the three helicopters and field team and lay caches ready for the baiting to begin in the three helicopters and field team and lay caches ready for the baiting to begin.

Baiting to remove the last of the rats from South Georgia will start in February as the final phase of the SGHT Habitat Restoration Project gets into full swing. The first two phases of the project have already treated the majority of the island, but 35% of the land mass, the south-eastern end, remains to be treated. Baiting will start in February, so in the run up, the 16-strong field team has arrived with all the stores and equipment aboard the chartered BAS vessel RRS Shackleton. The first job was to unload the three helicopters. Each one had to be lifted out of the hold and have its rotors fitted before it could be flown off to make room for the next to be unloaded.

The ship will then take the project down the coast to offload fuel and bait into several caches and to put in a forward operating base near Cape Charlotte. Once the offload is completed the ship will drop the field team back to KEP from where the first section of work will be undertaken, baiting the Barff Peninsula.

The end of this huge multi-year project is now in sight, but Project Leader Tony Martin warned, “That’s the goal now tantalisingly within reach, but so much can go wrong between now and then that we have to put it firmly to the back of our minds and concentrate on the present. In prospect is a long and arduous field season, hundreds of hours of difficult flying, the hand-loading of well over 4,000 heavy bags of bait with a noisy helicopter hovering just overhead, and of course whatever the weather gods deem fit to throw at us.”

The regular Habitat Restoration Project newsletter ‘Project News’ was published on January 23rd. In it you can read Tony Martin’s thoughts as they launch into this year’s fieldwork, and meet all the people who are now working in the field.

Read the January Project News here.

Sally Poncet And Patrick Lurcock Awarded Polar Medals

Two people who have spent a lot of their working life on South Georgia or working on matters related to the island have been awarded the Polar Medal.

Sally Poncet, a yachtswoman, biologist and historian first visited South Georgia in 1977 and has been conducting fieldwork on the island for more than 35 years. Her work covers a huge range of subjects including seals, birds, plants and historic sites. Patrick Lurcock has been working in South Georgia as Marine Officer and then Government Officer since 1992 and before that spent two winters as a geophysics technician on the British Antarctic Survey base on the Antarctic continent at Halley Bay.

The Polar Medal was first awarded in 1904 when it was given to members of Captain Scott’s first expedition to Antarctica and was then presented to other major UK expeditions going to the Antarctic. The medal is now awarded to UK citizens for conspicuous contributions to the knowledge of Polar Regions or who have rendered prolonged service of outstanding quality in support of acquisition of such knowledge. The first woman to be awarded the medal was Virginia Frances ‘Ginny’ Lady Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes who was an explorer and organised and supported several polar expeditions.

Sally Poncet is now one of only a handful of women who have since been awarded the Polar Medal. Though a Falkland Island resident, Sally spends much of the summer doing fieldwork on South Georgia. Currently on the island conducting the annual wandering albatross survey, other recent projects include conducting the proving trial for rat eradication and subsequent work on the SGHT Habitat Restoration Project; as a fieldworker on the GSGSSI Reindeer Project; and work to remove invasive plants. She has also written books about South Georgia, including the South Georgia Visitor’s Guide (with Kim Crosbie). GSGSSI Chief Executive Martin Collins said: “Sally has dedicated much of her time to studying and promoting the island’s biodiversity and, with her extensive knowledge of the island, is a key adviser to the SGHT rat eradication project and the GSGSSI reindeer eradication.”

South Georgia Government Officer Patrick Lurcock has worked on South Georgia for more than 20 years. He is currently a GSGSSI Government Officer, whose role is to represent the Government on the island. The Government Officers deal with all activities on the island including the fishing and tourism industries.

Patrick Lurcock said “It is a great honour to be awarded the Polar Medal, I am thrilled, though I feel a bit of a queue jumper as Sally Poncet is receiving a much more deserved one this year too. I have been lucky to have been here on South Georgia over a period that has developed in so many positive ways in terms of ecological, heritage, fishery and tourism management, and to have been able to play a small part in it all over the past 20 years.”

Dr Collins said: “During the time Pat has been employed by GSGSSI he has played an integral role in the improvements in fisheries and environmental management. Pat has also spent considerable time researching and documenting the cultural heritage of South Georgia.”

Seabourne Quest is the largest cruise ship of the season.
Seabourne Quest is the largest cruise ship of the season.

Fishing and Shipping News

Eleven cruise ships, including Seabourn Quest, the largest of the season with 420 passengers and a vessel new to South Georgia, the National Geographic Orion (100 pax), visited the island in January.

There were also five yachts; the privately owned super-yacht Triton and four charter yachts. One, the Hans Hansson, included a Cheeseman Ecological Safari tourist group and a GSGSSI science party undertaking a survey of albatross colonies around the island. Two of the yachts were supporting filming parties including Golden Fleece, which was chartered by a film team from the BBC and had spent several weeks in the South Sandwich Islands with a tented camp on shore at Zavadovskiy Island. The yacht made a brief call at South Georgia en route back to the Falkland Islands.

The GSGSSI chartered a trawler to conduct the biennial demersal trawl survey around the island. The survey provides estimates of the abundance and biomass of the demersal fish populations in the waters around South Georgia, including mackerel icefish. It also provides information on the abundance of juvenile toothfish. A more detailed report from the survey will appear in the February newsletter. Once the survey was complete, the vessel was inspected and licensed to begin commercial fishing for icefish. Early catches were patchy but picked up later on.

The South African Research vessel SA Agulhas called in at Grytviken on January 6th. As usual the vessel delivered some weather buoys, which will be deployed by the GSGSSI Fishery Patrol vessel Pharos SG throughout the winter; the buoys drift towards South Africa and upload data used by the meteorological services to produce weather forecasts for the continent.

Super yacht Triton on her first visit to South Georgia.
Super yacht Triton on her first visit to South Georgia.

New Place Names on Barff

The Barff Peninsula has gained seventeen new place names following a recent meeting of the UK Antarctic Place-names Committee. The Committee also considers new place names for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

Two of the past Magistrates are rewarded with having features named after them. Chinn Pass, a pass at the northern end of the peninsula is named after Eric ‘Ricky’ James Chinn (1934 - 2012) who was SG Magistrate from 1969-1970, and Fleuret Peak which is east of Sörling Valley, is named after Major Arthur Isadore Fleuret MBE (1899-1987), SG Magistrate 1942-1951.

Following the recent GSSSI reindeer eradication, a reindeer connection runs with other new names: Reindeer Lake is newly named in the existing Reindeer Valley, the name is in association with the valley after the reindeer that were introduced into this part of the island in 1909; Leader Valley, a valley stretching from Sörling Valley Hut to Montebello Peak is named after Professor Nigel Leader-Williams for his work on reindeer populations on South Georgia in the 1970s; and Ranger Ridge is a beautiful ridge running along the spine of the northern tip of the Barff towards Barff Point and is named in recognition of the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (SNO) marksmen (rangers) who worked so successfully to remove the invasive reindeer.

Two SNO marksmen on Ranger Ridge
Two SNO marksmen on Ranger Ridge

On a whaling theme, Edda Hill is now the name of a prominent hill west of Horseshoe Bay, named after the whale catcher Edda, one of the first vessels to operate out of Godthul, and Ingvald Gap is a pass between Reindeer Valley and Godthul named after Ingvald Bryde who established the whaling operations at Godthul in 1908. Lauritz Gap, another pass, is north-east of Fleuret Peak and is named after Lauritz Edvard Larsen, the first manager of Ocean Harbour in 1909 and one of the pioneers of South Georgia whaling.

Shoma Ridge, a ridge trending north-east from Mills Peak, behind Rookery Bay, is named in memory of the 12 crew members of the whale catcher Shoma, who were lost following a collision with West Skerry in 1934. And the schooner Montebello, which was wrecked in Ocean Harbour in 1916, is remembered with Montebello Peak, a prominent peak south-west of the area.

More descriptive names are used for: Cubbyhole Cove, a small bay south-west of Cape Douglas, which was named by Cdr. Chaplin of the Discovery Investigations in the 1920s and appeared on maps from that era; Desolata Lakes, a group of three lakes, south of Mills Peak, after the latin name of the Antarctic Prion (Pachyptila desolata), which itself refers to the typically desolate environment these birds nest in; and Echo Falls, a 25m high waterfall flowing from Echo Lake. The Lake got its name from the echo you hear on the cliffs that rise steeply from the side of the lake. There is also the evocatively named Misery Bay, a bay to the south of Sandebugten named by the personnel based at King Edward Point, apparently after its gloomy appearance.

Some people with a long association with South Georgia are also recognised in the new names. Lurcock Lake, north-west of Mills Peak is named after Pat and Sarah Lurcock for their long-term service to the Government of SGSSI, and Whittamore Pass, a pass at the head of Martin Valley, is named after Les Whittamore, who, after a ten year career with BAS associated with Halley Base, became their South Georgia Logistics Coordinator for fourteen years (2000 – 2014).

Bird Island Diary

By Robbie Scott, Base Technician at the BAS Research Station at Bird Island.

After a fantastically festive celebration of Christmas & New Year, Bird Island is carrying on with its busy summer season. The saving grace of this very busy period was the beautiful summer weather we’ve had. This was not only great for the excellent views and happy moods but makes it a lot easier to carry out the field work.

Having monitored the fur seals twice daily since the 1st November to gather data on the breeding population, another special study beach (SSB) season is now complete for the seal team. Although the daily visits are finished there’s no twiddling of thumbs for Sian and Cian as straight away they’re out collecting data on fur seal pup weights, and recording how long some mothers are taking on their trips out to sea to find food. Things seem much more peaceful on the beaches now as the fighting fur seal males have gone back to the sea and their harems (groups of females and their pups) are splitting up and moving into the hills. After the mothers’ trips to feed they come back and locate their pups by moving from beach to beach screaming out to them. This is fascinating to see and hear, although less so when it’s the middle of night and outside the bedroom window.

A cute blonde fur seal pup posing for the camera. Photo Robbie Scott.
A cute blonde fur seal pup posing for the camera. Photo Robbie Scott.

Equally busy are the albatross ZFAs, Lucy and Jess. The albatross census is underway and all of the nests are being checked for eggs across the whole of Bird Island. This is no quick job and at times requires all of us on base to get up to the hills and meadows to help out. As base technician, it’s always a pleasure to get off base amongst the beautiful scenery and wildlife, but it’s made even better by being out in it and contributing to the research. The albatrosses are absolutely stunning and graciously zoom past on the wind.

Lunch always tastes better in the fresh air. Photo Robbie Scott.
Lunch always tastes better in the fresh air. Photo Robbie Scott.

The penguins, skuas & petrels team have also been hard at work with the monitoring of skua and petrel chick growth and gentoo chick weighing and counting. I really have to take my hat off to Alastair and Jerry for the latter, as counting penguins is no easy task! This is because the chicks like to huddle together in groups of hundreds and not in nice orderly groups of 20, so it is very difficult to keep track of which chick has been counted and which hasn’t.

Try counting us now, Jerry. Photo Jerry Gillham.
Try counting us now, Jerry. Photo Jerry Gillham.

Our new VHF radio repeater is in and working a treat thanks to Adam. He’s been up and down one of our highest peaks like a yoyo carrying the new parts and bringing down the old. I had a go at bringing down one of the old batteries and it’s no easy task. I was helped back onto my feet on a number of occasions.

Bird Island base life has been absolutely great. Having 10 people around a table for dinner, chatting and joking, always makes for a great end to a hard day’s work. Our two senior scientists, Richard and Jaume, gave us evening talks on some of their findings. It was incredibly interesting seeing their results from data collected here on BI. Also, hearing about the albatross’ struggle against long-line fishing hooks, and the depletion of food sources for the seals, really brought home the importance of monitoring these animals. Ines and Roland, a documentary film crew arrived back in South Georgia for their 3rd and final documentary on the rat eradication project, and were keen to get footage of Bird Island as it has fortunately remained rat-free. The whole base was involved in the filming and had their acting skills tested. Their 10 day visit flew by. One evening we had the pleasure of watching their previous documentary and were amazed at how just a small crew of two people can make such a high-quality program.

South Georgia Snippets

240 years of Possession: The SGSSI flag was flown over FCO building in London on January 17th, Possession Day. It was the 240th anniversary of Capt. James Cook landing in Possession Bay and claiming the island for King George of England. The occasion was marked in South Georgia with a communal gathering and toast and a special cake.

The SGSSI flag flies over the FCO building in London. Photo FCO.
The SGSSI flag flies over the FCO building in London. Photo FCO.

Champagne Winning Pipit Nest: A nest with five pipit chicks was found at Weddell Point on January 13th. This was the first confirmed breeding record of pipits in an area formerly infested by rats. The area was baited two years ago during the South Georgia Heritage Trust’s rat eradication programme. The nest was found by Sally Poncet while surveying the area for wandering albatross during the South Georgia Government’s all-island wandering albatross survey on board RV Hans Hansson. Sally was alerted to the possible presence of breeding birds after spotting an adult carrying food to a site in a tussac bank. The distinct “jingling” call of chicks begging for food was another give-away and after 10 minutes or so of watching the site while parents came and went, locating the nest itself was easy. News of the sighting was sent to the SGHT and South Georgia Government, and the long-awaited bottle of champagne was waiting at King Edward Point on completion of the albatross survey 10 days later. The bottle was savoured by all 16 people on board Hans Hansson as they celebrated the end of a very successful wanderer survey capped by a first for the pipit.

The pipit brood that proves this endemic bird is successfully recolonizing the main island.
The pipit brood that proves this endemic bird is successfully recolonizing the main island.

Several Science Projects: KEP hosted several different groups of researchers during January, each pursuing their own specialities.

Two BAS scientists from the Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering were launching weather balloons regularly to collect data to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting. Two more researchers from the Natural History Museum were collecting ice samples from the glaciers to analyse for microbes, and one person was here studying toothfish as part of her studies for her PhD looking at reproduction in these long-lived fish. As well as this a technician from the University of California, San Diego, was doing some work on the seismic sensors in the Hope Point seismic station and two arrived to continue work for GSGSSI eradicating invasive weeds.

From Our Own Correspondent: South Georgia features in an episode of the BBC4 programme From Our Own Correspondent. The programme, made up of several five-minute reports from journalists around the world, had a piece by Juliet Rix, who recently visited the island on a cruise ship. The programme, broadcast on January 24th, is available on the BBC website. The South Georgia section is the last in the half hour programme.

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