Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
June 2018
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BT – Neko Harbour

Neko Harbour (S 64°51′ W 62°36′) is a big inlet, so big, in fact, that I haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact spot where we landed on our third morning. My geographical incompetence is not helped by the fact that the current Google maps satellite imagery must be from the wintrier ends of summer, since the images show much more sea ice and greater snow cover. At the time of our visit there were still some icebergs about, but they could be avoided, and there were ice-walls at the front of the glaciers, of which more anon.

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We were here for another continental landing and another colony of Gentoos, nesting on the rocks and travelling their penguin highways down to the sea.

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Although we’d seen nests and nesting penguins on our other rookery visits, I think this was the first time I saw an egg under the protection of a parent.

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I mentioned in a previous post that the skuas are also interested in penguins, but in ways different from me.

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Here we got to see more evidence of their interest. Of course the penguins try to defend their eggs and chicks, but they are not always successful.

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From the shore we made our way up the hill to a vantage point, while the day’s mountaineering group went even further afield.

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At the lookout, the katabatic winds — which blow down from the higher slopes and are often responsible for Antarctica’s infamous blizzards — were quite strong, and although not dangerous in their strength we became a little more careful of our footing.

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We had good views of the bay below us, and to our right we could see where the nearby small glacier was becoming crevassed as it completes its slow descent into the sea. Later in the day part of the glacier ice-wall — only a small section thankfully — broke off and crashed into the harbour. This set off a small tsunami that resulted in half-metre waves arriving on the shore where people were watching penguins and where a couple of Zodiacs were moored. We had been advised that such things might happen, and so when the call came to get off the beach people headed for suitably higher ground (I was already far enough away), while some of the expedition staff — judging the waves to be not too dangerous — raced to secure the Zodiacs.

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After heading back down from the lookout I wandered around the rookery taking lots of photographs.

Did I mention that there were penguins?

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Just before we returned to the ship at lunchtime, quite a few foolhardy souls — rather more than I expected — stripped down to whatever they were prepared to strip down to and braved a quick dip in the waters. I had contemplated doing this but the wind chill factor was not pleasant, and the beach was narrow and rocky and awkward, and somehow I wasn’t in the mood for reasons not entirely clear to me, and so I didn’t. I had some regrets about bailing out, but stay tuned.

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