I come from the land of ice and snow. / by Jerry


 The last week has brought us the coldest weather I've so far experienced down south with it touching -10C. Add to that the 30 knot winds and it's been pretty chilly. Normally I head out just wearing a t-shirt under my paramo jacket but yesterday I had a thermal, thin jumper and fleece under there. I was plenty warm enough, except on the fingers when photographing the ice and snow.

Using the bridge on one of the few times it's fine not to.
Looking across the bay to base, with ice forming everywhere.

It tends to move through in blizzards, some lasting all day, some just a few minutes, punctuated by moments of sunshine. I chose one of these bright moments to carry a load of path-marking stakes up the hill (though it's clearly too frozen to drive them in so they're in a pile waiting for it to thaw), by the time I'd reached the top it was clear and the sun was bouncing off the snow, but within a few minutes I was in the middle of a snowstorm. By the time I'd made my way down it was again clear, though the clouds over South Georgia indicated this wouldn't be for long.

Sun on base but some ominous clouds approaching. 
Wonderful clear views across Bird Island and South Georgia.

As the temperature really began to drop we got ice forming in the bay. Just mush at first and a bit of pancake ice, but the really impressive bits are the rocks and seaweed that get covered with hard ice where the sea's been washing over them.

The incoming tide rising over ice-covered rocks.

Pancake ice forming around the jetty.

A highlight of the winter was the appearance in the bay of three snow petrels. These breed high up on the South Georgia mainland and are infrequently seen here on Bird Island, usually fleeting glimpses of them high over the peaks. But there they were, along with dozens of terns, picking morsels out of the ocean – crustaceans or possibly carrion from a leopard seal dinner.

Terns coping with the polar ground.

Antarctic Tern fishing in the forming ice.

Beautiful Snow Petrel.


When the weather allows we've been out ringing wandering albatross chicks. This a major part of the long term monitoring of this vulnerable species. They travel so far they can pitch up anywhere across the southern ocean, though many of them will (hopefully) return to breed on Bird Island in around eight years time.

Wandering Albatross chicks.