9 January, 2000
Today I went out to the Cape Royds colony with Hanna and Michelle. In the colony we searched for known age birds which were banded as chicks in past years. Now these birds are one to three years old. Most of them have not started breeding and are just hanging around the colony. These young birds hang around to observe and learn how to behave if they are interested in mating the following season.
Cape Royds is the location of Shackelton’s hut. Shackelton’s 1907 Expedition spent the winter in the
hut before departing on their bid to reach the South Pole. The group never did make it to the pole, but they did set a new record for farthest South, a mere 97 miles from the pole. Unlike Scott's later expedition they did make it home alive. Upon his return to England, Shackelton remarked, "better to be a live donkey than a dead lion." The hut was amazingly well preserved. There were hundreds of cans of canned food stored outside the hut. Most had rusted through, but some were still intact; I doubt they would taste too good though. The area around Cape Royds is very interesting. The rock is igneous with large black crystal inclusions. The landscape seems moon like, with hills and craters. Shackelton picked a very nice place to spend the winter.
After a beautiful morning at Royds, the helo arrived for a quick trip to the top of Mt. Bird With David. This extinct volcano rises 1800 meters out of the Ross Sea. From the summit, the view is outstanding. It is also a great place to to do telemetry. The helo shut down while David and I tried to get fixes on the penguins from 4 colonies. At telemetry sites that are lower in elevation it is more difficult to pick up some of the birds. From a high vantage point, it is easier to locate the radio tagged penguins. The the weather was stellar, but it was very cold on top. As with all flight in Antarctica, we had on all of our ECW gear. However, to record data we had to strip down to thin liner gloves. Each time we did this, it took a minute of vigorous hand swinging to get them warm. After about two hour of this it was time for a quick trip down the mountain to the Cape Bird hut.
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