Sunday, November 22, 2009

The stormy days continue!

Scott tent in a storm, Cape Crozier, 2007

I spoke to Grant via satellite phone two days ago. The Cape Crozier crew (Grant, Scott, and Annie) arrived safely on Nov. 16th & 17th and then promptly got stuck in the hut due to high winds. After four days they had only had a total of six hours in the penguin colony and one broken tent (after a 103 mph gust). The internet is not working, so there will be no direct updates for some time.

Grant says that the Crozier colony is at full capacity but the birds are breeding very late this year. Many birds had yet to lay eggs as of November 20th. Cape Royds (a smaller colony on the western side of Ross Island) is down in population by an order of magnitude - there were only 14 birds (or was it 14 pairs?) so far. Yikes! Cape Royds did very poorly during the iceberg years, and it has yet to recover.

In the meantime Cosimo and I are in Italy, living a literally opposite existence and fantasizing about Antarctica (well, just me, Cosimo doesn't know any better yet). It's dark and humid-cold here in November, but at least the food is great. Thanks to Google video chat, Cosimo now believes that "da" (daddy) lives in mamma's computer.

Snow drifting off Pat's Peak during high winds, Ross Sea visible in the distance, 2007

The Adelie penguin colony at Cape Crozier as seen from the sea ice


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