I’m sitting in our little hut out at Cape Bird seeing in the new year, watching minke and orca swim out the window and a leopard seal drifting past on the ice. It’s a pretty good way to end what has been a spectacular year. All the best for 2013 from the penguins and their wranglers at Cape Bird!
One of the nice things about living in a remote place is that you get to try out lots of inventive recipes. This is partly because you have time to do things without the distractions of modern life (she says writing a blog post from a field camp in Antarctica) but also because the selection of ingredients is often somewhat eclectic. We bake a lot of bread out here at Cape Bird and we’ve been experimenting a little this year. One of the winning recipes is an adaptation of Alison and Simon Holst’s rice bread recipe from their excellent New Zealand Bread Book, bought about by a seemingly never-ending pot of leftover cous cous. It’s particularly good if your cous cous has bits of sundried tomato in it like ours did.
Cous Cous (Rice) Bread
3 t Surebake yeast
1 cup warm water (plus a little more depending on how wet the rice/cous cous is)
2 t sugar
1 1/2 salt
2 T oil
3 T non-fat milk powder
1 cup wholemeal (or country grain) flour
2 cups high grade flour
1 cup cooked rice (i use brown rice or cous cous)
- Mix yeast, water and sugar in a bowl and leave for 5 mins.
- Mix in rest of ingredients and knead for 10 mins.
- Cover and leave to rise for an hour or until doubled in size.
- Knead again and place in a greased loaf tin.
- Leave to rise for another hour.
- Bake at 200C for 30 mins.
Flying into Cape Bird hut from Scott Base felt a little like flying home – being greeted by familiar faces, sites and sounds, slipping into familiar routines around the hut and out around the colony. It is certainly nice to be back.
Cape Bird is often referred to as the Riviera of Ross Island and for good reason. We probably have the best weather as we’re relatively sheltered from the southerlies by Mount Bird and Mount Erebus and we certainly have some pretty sweet accommodation compared to some of the other field camps. Our hut is pretty palatial, with a large living area, a lab, two bunk rooms and a shed complete with clip-on outhouse.
There’s even a wringer for when you need to wash your stinking penguin socks.
The pantry is well-stocked and, as long as you don’t look at the expiry dates, you can find most things you want (as long as you don’t want anything fresh or have a particular fondness for tinned fish, surprise beans or christmas pudding).
There’s even a secret stash of marmite, which made me happy!
But it’s hard to believe how fast the time is going. Already, I’ve been here for over two weeks, making today the halfway point for me this season. This year we have seven people for what the same amount of work we did with three the first season, so while the hut is super-busy, we’re getting way more done and not working ridiculous hours. We also had a pretty slow start this year as the birds seem to be running a bit behind schedule but it has nice to ease into the work and get settled in before it got all crazy busy.
I’m going to leave you with a pretty penguin picture to wet your appetite for stories about penguin work in the new year. Happy nearly 2013!!
*Thanks to Papa John for the use of his photos from last season!
It seems slightly wrong to be able to send blog posts from a remote location in Antarctica but it does mean that I get to tease you all with photos, so it’s not going to stop me!
This year we flew down in a C130 Hercules which made for a different experience. Imagine sitting in a deck chair for eight hours with your knees touching your neighbours, inside a cake tin, next to the cake mixer. Not the most comfortable of flights and definitely limited inflight entertainment.
So it was a grateful plane of well-insulated sardines that landed at the Pegasus airstrip out on the ice shelf.
We’ve spent the last few days at Scott Base organising our field gear and getting ready for heading out to Cape Bird for a season of wrangling Adelie penguins.
In a few days time, I’ll be heading south for another summer of penguin wrangling in Antarctica. It’s going to be a bit of a stark contrast from cruising the city streets of Melbourne in 30 degrees to stalking the beaches of Cape Bird at -15 degrees but I’m looking forward to it.
Hopefully this season will be a bit more relaxed work wise, with nine people doing the work that three of us did the first season but it will make for a super busy hut. There are rumours of internet access this year which I’m not sure I’m that happy about. It seems a bit weird to disappear to one of the more remote parts of the planet and still be able to check facebook. But on the plus side, I will hopefully be able to tease you all with pictures of penguins.
Merry Christmas from Cape Bird!