Xmas / New Year lull / by Jerry

Toward the end of December there's a strange tradition on Bird Island of celebrating the birth of a 2,000 year old hippy. I can't say I understand it but it's good fun.

Late afternoon on Christmas Eve we took mince pies and mulled wine over to the seal team on their Special Study Beach (SSB) and sat there enjoying the festive spirit while watching the seals below us.

On Christmas Day itself I was out with Ruth, more searching for petrels and prions so more crawling about amongst the tussock grass with arms down burrows. Returning in time for a good wash and donning smart clothes, but a bit too late to help out in the kitchen, I was very ready for the huge meal we'd all chipped in with (but Tamsin and Craig should take the credit for the majority of the work done on the day). As well as turkey, ham, nut roast, potatoes, yorkshires, stuffing, other veg and loads of wine we had a massive stack of cakes and puddings, several of which are still around a full five days later!

The meal was excellent and followed by an increasingly raucous game of Balderdash, with only a break for washing up and then to watch the colourful sunset at about half eleven. We then stuck loud music on and danced like idiots until about five in the morning.

I opened a few presents throughout the day - a few chocolate treats, a harmonica with which to annoy the others and a scrapbook full of embarrassing pictures of me that I unrealisingly opened in front of everyone else. Thanks Mum.

The next day I was out again on a Geep and Skua round, battling the effects of a late night as well as a ferocious, cold wind. Since then I've been out over various places in the island marking new Wandering Albatross nests. This is a big job that everyone is getting involved in, a great excuse to head to new places and I got to ring my first Wanderer yesterday - quite a difference from the Wrens and Willow Warblers I got used to on Skokholm.

When it's wet and cold outside, and warm and dry in, the puppies will gravitate toward the kitchen. If the door is left open they'll even start to invade.

 Take one for the Christmas card. Although this one has more seals in it we vainly decided it didn't show us clear enough.

 Sitting down for Christmas meal, all scrubbed and smart.

 Christmas cake number one (of about five). The big seal is 3D, raising itself up, and I should explain that 'oof choof' is their all-purpose call.

Another Christmas cake, this one Craig, Steph and Jen's construction of a pair of ginerbread houses.

Christmas Eve on SSB - almost the full team as Steph was back in the kitchen making dinner. (Tamsin's photo).

Jerry.