Last of the Geeps / by Jerry

With the wildlife leaving I've more free time to explore the island or carry out little projects of my own. One is my midwinter present - the old Antarctic secret-Santa-like tradition that has led to quiet evenings hiding in my room and the workshop.

Another project involved setting a timelapse camera up on the top of Tonk to catch what I hoped would be an impressive sunset. As it turned out it was only an average sunset, but there's plenty more time to try again.
Me on the top of Tonk, with colony J hut in the foreground (Steph's photo).
The view from the top of Tonk, looking north across Top and Bottom Meadows to the Willis Islands and impending snow-storm. On the right of the picture you can see the now empty Big Mac and on the left Johnson Beach.

Experimenting with cameras has been good fun. I left my little GoPro up in one of the Grey-headed Albatross colonies and got some good shots of their life at the moment.

Feeding time.
Stretching and practicing with those big wings.
Screaming for food as an adult, not necessarily on of its parents, lands nearby.

 Tuesday saw the departure of the final Giant Petrel chick from my study area. It's great to see them off successfully. I'll miss working with them as they're really charismatic, although it's only a couple of months until I'll be out every day recording the new nesting adults.

Riding out the snow, an adult Southern Giant Petrel.

Walking a regular route past the geeps and grey-heads means you get to know certain birds on the way. Some are more aggressive than others, some more timid and some just seem to have something about them. The Wandering Albatrosses are currently the main occupants of the island, with both chicks and adults livening up the Meadows.

My favourite Wanderer chick. It's got particularly chubby cheeks and always stands up as if to say 'hello' when I walk past, but doesn't shy away or snap at me.
A cosy Wanderer pair keeping warm and sheltering down in the tussoc.

The beaches are like the savannah with Leopards and Elephants jostling for space with the usual Fur (er... Seals).
Young Elephant Seal, foaming at the mouth. At least it makes a change from the others with big snotty noses.
Big Leopard Seal hauled out on the snow, fast asleep.

 As I was lying in the snow helping Hannah photograph this latest Leopard Seal a lonely Gentoo Penguin was wandering around us, honking and pecking at my rucksack. Happily he was joined by another two Gentoos who came ashore for a group preening session.

Gentoo Penguins, safe on the land, preening with a total lack of concern as to the giant predator behind them.

We were hoping for an opportunistic boat call this weekend bringing over vital generator bits as well as any mail and fresh veg. We're running dramatically low on potatoes and things are started to be rationed with midwinter approaching. The weather has been highly changeable and particularly windy recently though so it'll be a case of fingers crossed, wait and hope.

Big winds = big waves.

Changeable weather also means rainbows.