Penguin calculators

December 17, 2007 at 8:47 am | Posted in Penguins | Leave a comment

2nd December

Stay still as long as possible. So long that Helen brings me porridge in bed and hour later. No ship is due until the evening, so I’m pretending it’s a Sunday long lie. Me and Rick dress up to count penguins, but euk it’s snowing slush and we’d get soaked, so retreat inside. Package a few First Day Covers then the weather appears to clear, so we head out again. Gosh it’s yucky by the boatshed, a treacly gloup of mud, meltwater and guano. I find it hard to move and count without slipping in the mire and remembering where I’d got up to. We both reach the same figure (give or take a couple) and move on up to the mast colony. Tricky when nests are huddled around a prominent rock and there’s no clear line of sight. The snow is coming down fiercer. We both make the same tally. After counting the small scattered Anode Tower colony I retreat indoors, ineffectual without eyesight (glasses are snowed under) leaving Rick to count the control colonies. He comes in shortly, soaked. Adding the figures together gives us a total of 618 nests. (Last year there were 611 on 27th November.) Thaw out and unpack stock that Helen has valiantly carried up from the boatshed. Start collating sets of eight posters which make up the Port Lockroy information pack (a bargain at $5!) laid out along bench in science room. This is familiar work for me, and  music is playing in my ears. Rick cooks up Sunday Brunch style meal; fried eggs, potatoes, beans and tomato mmm. Straight back out to bag up more poster sets. Startling how much snow cover has disappeared over the last days, temperature hovering around zero, precipitation sometimes more like rain. Our whole topography is changing, I find edges where there were none. The snow made everything bigger and now I’m surprised to realise this is so. Bit of a ‘ho hum’ afternoon; tidying, small jobs. Helen has done a stamp stock take, trying to work out what we may run out of and need to re-order. Waiting is frustrating – today’s only  ship visit is scheduled from seven thirty pm onwards. Eventually lie down and read. Rick cooks exotic curry: mango and guinea fowl! V. dense and tasty. Stewed apple and custard. Still no ship. Risk taking full slop bucket to landing, hurl it right out in an arc. Nothing happens. No-one comes. Paint a few cards for International Polar Year, with the commemorative round stamps on. Hardly breathe. Stare. Start reading American anthology of Antarctic stories…

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