Things are looking up for the penguins!

January 2, 2008 at 5:17 pm | Posted in Assistant Post Mistress, Penguins | Leave a comment

11th December

My glasses have disappeared! Instant panic. Takes a while to find them – on floor in darkest corner, behind boxes, having fallen through the bed slats. Snowing so much the penguins are drifting in again. I heard a ship and said nothing. Polar Pioneer are here, expected this afternoon – our schedule is not up to date. Sweep snow off ramp and welcome them in. Australian adventurers. Rick’s lost hat found (despite fresh snowfall) on Jougla, phew. Lingering and contented visit. It’s gotta be lunchtime. Benefiting from fresh delivery, Helen puts garlic mushrooms, bacon and egg in front of us yum yum. Perfect time for egg count. Rick is great at lifting each brush to catch brief glimpse of nest content. Even so, it’s quite traumatic, for them, and for us. I mark the tally in pencil, and watch for skuas (who are notably absent.) Most of the nests contain two eggs; things are looking up for the penguins! Due to all that bending over, three-quarters of the way through, Rick needs cof fee and the sky has cleared, so a veranda break… While Rick e-mails, Helen takes over the lift and squint position. We soon finish the Mast and Screen colonies. Far too brilliant outside, so stay out on the step. Write up the figures – one less nest than we’d counted last time, so that’s good. Helen sets wee stones on the ramp to ‘help’ nest builders. Watch lonesome lady penguin who we fear has lost her love – and has an egg with no nest. She needs to feed but then sheathbills steal her egg. All forlorn and shaking. Our very own soap opera (- there’s violation and adultery too, but this is the abridged version.) Stay until sun disappears from deck, talking about bikes and why they’re so great. Make a very orange curry for tea. Too hot for me, tone it down with lashings of cream. Drawn outside; the light and life are wondrous. Look, shoot film, look. Intensely present perfect. The sounds of snow edges slumping into the rising tide, distant avalanche explosions, and noisy ice bergs tilting on their axes. And all about the penguins, doing their busy birdy thing, or just stopped and looking too. Macro lens on camera captures some feet and beaks in particular. Wrench away to go inside. The others drink hot toddy, ailing. I’m ok. Sheathbills stutter and stampede across the roofs of our sleep.

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