Bird Island Research Station, Bird Island, South Georgia

Lat. 54°0'0"S, Long. 38°2'59"W
1957 to 1982 (intermittently); continuously 22 Sep 1982 to present
Summer: 10, Winter: 4

Bird Island Research Station is an important centre for research into bird and seal biology. Lying off the north-west tip of South Georgia, Bird Island is one of the richest wildlife sites in the world. The research station, active since 1957, was completely redeveloped in 2005 and today provides accommodation for 10 staff.


Bird Island lies off the north-west tip of South Georgia in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. It is separated by a 500-metre channel, Bird Sound, from the South Georgia mainland. It is approximately 1000km south-east of the Falkland Islands and is accessible only ship.

Bird Island Research Station
Bird Island Research Station


The station operates all year and has capacity for up to 10 personnel with two extra bunks for short-stay visitors.

There are usually three zoological research assistants plus one technical support staff member on station during the winter. Research assistants spend 18 months on Bird Island specialising in seals, penguins or albatross. The technician typically spends a year on station.  The Station Leader is on station throughout most of the summer months and the island station Facilities Engineer may spend between a week and two months ashore at Bird Island each year.

In the austral summer, between October to April, numbers rise to around 10, with visiting scientists from BAS and international scientific institutions.

Administration and status

As part of South Georgia, Bird Island is administered by the Government of South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI), which issues permits to BAS researchers and other visitors.  Government Officers are stationed at King Edward Point, South Georgia.  The King Edward Point Station Leader acts as Magistrate.


A subantarctic island south of the Polar Front, Bird Island has little protection against Antarctic storms from the south-west. Weather is significantly colder, cloudier and wetter on Bird Island than at the old whaling stations on South Georgia’s northern coast.

Temperatures vary from -10°C to 10°C, hovering around 0°C in winter and 4°C in summer. Damp, misty, low cloud conditions prevail during summer, and gale-force winds can occur all year.

There is no permanent snow or ice on the island, though it is typically snow covered from July to October. Icebergs are often visible from the station throughout the year. Brash ice collects in the bays and occasionally freezes in during winter months.


One of the world’s richest wildlife sites, Bird Island has large, diverse populations of seabirds and fur seals, and is home to 50,000 breeding pairs of penguins and 65,000 pairs of fur seals, whose numbers are now returning to pre-sealing levels.

wandering albatross
A family of wandering albatrosses (Diomedea exulans) at Bird Island, South Georgia. The female is in the foreground with the male behind and the chick in the background, the female is identified by the black flecks in the plumage.

Importantly, Bird Island is rat-free, so has large numbers of small burrowing birds such as petrels and prions. However, many seabird species are listed as endangered, threatened or near-threatened, with albatross numbers on the island declining rapidly.


Only 12 flowering plants have been reported from Bird Island, including prickly burr, Antarctic water-starwort, Antarctic pearlwort, emerald bog, Antarctic hair grass, tussock grass and Antarctic buttercup. In 2006, one specimen of annual meadow-grass (probably carried from the South Georgia mainland by birds) and patches of water blink were reported for the first time. Bird Island has many mosses, fungi, liverworts, including the ceph liverwort and Marchantia.

Environmental protection

BAS policy is to minimise our impact on the environment in which we work. We take this responsibility especially seriously at Bird Island. We control the number of visitors coming ashore through the GSGSSI permitting system and by keeping the station size relatively small.

Part of the reason for its special environmental status is that Bird Island is free from rats, which on mainland South Georgia have devastated populations of burrowing birds and taken eggs from albatross nests.

Because rats would decimate local wildlife, strict precautions are taken to prevent their introduction: baited rat boxes are situated throughout the island and all incoming cargo is inspected on arrival.

It has diverse and concentrated populations of sea birds and fur seals, amounting to one bird or seal for every 1.5m². There are 50,000 breeding pairs of penguins and 65,000 breeding fur seals. Fur seal numbers are now thought to be returning to a similar population size to that before sealing in the early 20th century.

Because the island has no rats, there are large numbers of small burrowing birds such as petrels (700,000 of them) and prions.

However, many sea bird species at Bird Island are listed as endangered, threatened or near-threatened. Numbers of albatross on the island are declining rapidly.

Preventing invasion of other non-native species

At Bird Island, every care is taken ensure we reduce the risk of introducing new species to the island.  Fresh produce is inspected and washed on delivery, and any non-native species found are sent to BAS in Cambridge for identification. New biosecurity protocols ensure that on arrival, visitors scrub their footwear and inspect their clothing, particularly velcro in waterproofs to remove any visual signs of seeds and soils.

To conduct our scientific research, we must be able to travel around the island. After 50 years of scientists walking similar routes to albatross and penguin colonies, there are several well-defined paths around the island. We monitor the frequency of use of each route, and stake routes where paths are not obvious to avoid excessive damage spreading to local habitats.

Station life

With no doctors or field guides on Bird Island, BAS provides comprehensive training in advanced first aid, medical response, navigation, and search and rescue, particularly to wintering staff. Remote medical support is available immediately upon request at all times.

Staff take turns to cook evening meals and make bread. Saturdays are kept formal, with three course meals, and birthdays and other celebrations are special events.

Leisure activities include film nights, games and quizzes and the station has a collection of music, instruments and exercise machines.

The station is usually re-supplied twice a year, at the beginning and end of summer, by BAS ships RRS Ernest Shackleton and RRS James Clark Ross. Food, fuel and other supplies are brought ashore by tender and waste removed to the Falkland Islands and the UK for recycling.

Work schedule

For science staff, working hours depend on their study species. Work at the penguin colony – which is 35 minutes walk from the station – is often around dawn and dusk when the birds forage.

Fur seal science is intense from late November to January, when pups are born. The seal study beach is a five-minute walk from the station through thousands of unpredictable seals – not a job for the faint-hearted.

Albatross and petrel science is busy all year, and involves a daily hike around the island over heavy-going terrain, so bird assistants are usually the fittest of the bunch.

While science research assistants help in routine maintenance of water systems and generators, the technician is responsible for keeping station facilities running smoothly, as well as doing more challenging repairs and improvements throughout the winter.

Field huts and hides have existed at one time or other at the following sites, close to breeding seabird and seal colonies:

  • Gazella Peak
  • Molly Hill
  • Wanderer Ridge
  • Johnson Gentoo Colony
  • Top Meadows (two locations)
  • Colony B
  • Special Study Beach
  • Colony J
  • Fairy Point

The last four are used regularly, with the hut at Fairy Point large enough to provide basic offsite accommodation.


The BAS scientific research at Bird Island focuses on seabird and seal population dynamics, feeding ecology and reproductive performance.


Population numbers, breeding success, diet and feeding grounds of seabirds and seals have been collected on Bird Island for decades. These long-term datasets are crucial to understanding the Southern Ocean ecosystem.

Much of this data is used by Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) Ecosystem Monitoring Programme. This aims to establish conservation policy and management to protect the current diversity of the southern oceans.

BAS conservation biology research on Bird Island includes monitoring white-chinned petrel, the most commonly reported bird species recorded as fisheries bycatch in the Southern Ocean.

Long-term monitoring of this species showed a decline in nest burrow occupancy of 28% between the 1970s and 1990s. In 2015, with funding from South Georgia fisheries licence fees, 13 chicks were satellite tagged and tracked in near real-time via the Argos system.

BAS biologists have also come up with innovative electronic tagging systems to monitor macaroni penguins, whose population has declined on South Georgia has declined by 70% since the 1980s.

At one colony on Bird Island Research Station, they developed and installed a ‘penguin gateway’. For 10 years, as tagged birds passed between the colony and the sea, the ‘gateway’ recorded the tag number and the time and direction of travel, providing vital information about their survival.

Annual reports including the Bird and Mammal report, Beach Litter Study, and Seal Disentanglements report have been prepared by Bird Island staff for many years.

Collaborative programs with UK universities and overseas establishments – including the University of Texas – have resulted in several scientists visiting Bird Island most field seasons, with BAS logistic support.

Other conservation visitors have included Dame Ellen MacArthur supporting Birdlife International’s Save the Albatross campaign, and scientists conducting bird counting surveys for the Government of South Georgia within the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP).

Before they can go ahead, any studies involving animals must satisfy an Ethics Review Committee.

Isolated winter fieldwork on Bird Island

17 June, 2020 by Alexandra Dodds

Albatross zoological field assistant Alexandra Dodds shares experiences of the isolated winter fieldwork at British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Bird Island Research Station in South Georgia. The team are conducting important …

Guest blog: arriving at Bird Island

17 November, 2017 by Daan Aldenberg

One misty day last week (November 2017), the RRS James Clark Ross arrived at Bird Island in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. On board was Daan Aldenberg, from BAM International, partner …

Guest blog. RRS Sir David Attenborough: The story so far

20 April, 2017 by Paul Fox

Paul Fox, Senior Responsible Officer for RRS Sir David Attenborough, has written a guest blog for a behind-the-scenes look at NERC’s commission of a new polar research ship for Britain and the associated Antarctic infrastructure modernisation programme.

Search and Rescue on Bird Island

23 February, 2016 by Jerry Gillham

Bird Island Research Station has a small staff team; no more than 10 in summer and just four over winter. We have no doctor on station though all staff receives …


1 May, 2015 by Sian Tarrant

Birds Lucy has been busy at the colonies checking black brow albatross and grey headed albatross nests for failures and fledglings. The black browed albatross chicks have all gone now, …

Bird Island Diary – April 2015

5 April, 2015 by Lucy Quinn

April has been an extraordinarily busy month both work-wise and base-wise. It’s also been a month of change as we have gone from 10 people down to just 4, reflecting …

Bird Island Diary – March 2015

1 March, 2015 by Jerry Gillham

March on Bird Island feels very like autumn; the days are getting noticeably shorter, more mornings are greeting us with ice and snow, and the summer residents are preparing to …

Bird Island Diary – February 2015

3 February, 2015 by Cian Luck

February has been a pleasant and productive month for the humans and animals of Bird Island. The beaches have quietened down enough for us to get out and about along …

Bird Island Diary – January 2015

2 January, 2015 by Robbie Scott

After a fantastically festive celebration of Christmas & New Year, Bird Island is carrying on with its busy summer season. The saving grace of this very busy period was the …

Bird Island Diary – November 2014

12 November, 2014 by Cian Luck

November’s been a busy month on Bird Island as there’s no longer any denying that summer has arrived. On the first of November I started my daily visits to the …

Bird Island Diary – August 2014

9 August, 2014 by Jerry Gillham

Film Festival The first weekend of the month brought us the eagerly anticipated Antarctic 48-hour film festival. This annual event brings together all the bases on the continent and islands …

Bird Island Diary – July 2014

8 July, 2014 by Cian Luck

The winter months have picked up pace now and July flew by on Bird Island. We’ve been blessed with temperatures that have hovered at or below freezing, transforming the island …

Bird Island Diary – June 2014

1 June, 2014 by BAS Bloggers

June began with the monthly Albatross census on and around the whole of the island. Great to have everyone helping out to have the experience of getting up close to …

Bird Island Diary – May 2014

1 May, 2014 by Jessica Walkup

May began, as most months begin on Bird Island, with a census of all the wandering albatross nests on the island. Everyone helps out with the wanderer census as the …

Bird Island Diary – March 2014

1 March, 2014 by Cian Luck

The RRS Ernest Shackleton arrived on the 6th of March for last call. This marked the end of the summer season and the beginning of winter. While this year’s winterers …

Bird Island Diary — December 2013

1 December, 2013 by BAS Bloggers

December was a busy month for the team with the base’s new additions, Adam, Jess, Cian and Rob, getting happily settled into the Bird island way of life. Early December …

Bird Island Diary — November 2013

30 November, 2013 by Adam Bradley

It is now November, and spring is in the air on Bird Island. Seal puppies are appearing at an ever-increasing rate, the penguins and albatrosses are jealously guarding their eggs …

Bird Island Diary — October 2013

31 October, 2013 by BAS Bloggers

I have been challenged to write something different for this month’s web diary, and rather than being completely biased and simply writing a long-winded essay on how great seals are …

Bird Island Diary — July 2013

31 July, 2013 by BAS Bloggers

With the island looking very sparse in terms of animals the month began in the usual way with all of us out conducting the Wandering Albatross chick census. There were …

Bird Island Diary — April 2013

30 April, 2013 by Jerry Gillham

April has been a month of very noticeable changes. For the majority of species it has marked the end of the breeding season and their departure from the Bird Island. …

Bird Island Diary — December 2012

31 December, 2012 by Jerry Gillham

The unseasonably warm and dry December has allowed plenty of long, enjoyable days outside for the new field assistants to try and learn all they can from the 2012 wintering …

Bird Island Diary — November 2012

30 November, 2012 by BAS Bloggers

The inhabitants of Bird Island have been having quite an eventful time since Jon wrote our last diary entry. One of the most significant events has been the arrival of …

Bird Island Diary — September 2012

30 September, 2012 by BAS Bloggers

Well spring seems to have officially sprung here on Bird Island. We celebrated the spring equinox on September 22nd by making cider with the remnants of our apples (I use …

Bird Island Diary — August 2012

31 August, 2012 by Ruth Mugford

The first weekend of August was a busy one on Bird Island, as it was the date of this year’s Antarctic 48-hour Film Festival. The Film Festival has been running …

Bird Island Diary — July 2012

31 July, 2012 by BAS Bloggers

With the island looking very sparse in terms of animals the month began in the same usual way with the all island wandering albatross chick census, and I am pleased …

Bird Island Diary – June 2012

30 June, 2012 by BAS Bloggers

June is the time when island and its inhabitants get fully settled into the winter; the majority of the summer breeding animals have now left, and our little island is …

Bird Island Diary – April 2012

30 April, 2012 by Ruth Mugford

The beginning of April on Bird Island saw the successful completion of the building projects which were started last month. In particular, the rusty and decrepit old jetty was gradually …

Bird Island Diary – March 2012

31 March, 2012 by BAS Bloggers

With the arrival of the Technical Team on the FPV Pharos early this month, work started in earnest on the all the various building projects: the repair of the gantry …

Bird Island Diary – February 2012

28 February, 2012 by BAS Bloggers

After a busy start last month, the intensity of science activities has increased significantly as the fur seal pups, mollymawk, gentoo and macaroni penguin chicks have matured and there have …

Bird Island Diary — December 2011

31 December, 2011 by BAS Bloggers

As always with Bird Island, nature changes constantly between the various species, and, the weather tends to stay the same! It can go from snow to sun through hail and …

Bird Island Diary — September 2011

30 September, 2011 by BAS Bloggers

The final Wanderer chick survey for the season kick-started September. The vast majority of chicks survived the constant batterings handed out by the squalls and blizzards that regularly accompany life …

Bird Island Diary — August 2011

31 August, 2011 by BAS Bloggers

The weather has had the biggest impact on life at Bird Island this month. Southerly winds kept the temperature well below freezing causing the streams around base freeze into beautiful …

Bird Island Diary — June 2011

30 June, 2011 by BAS Bloggers

June on Bird Island is dominated by the Midwinter Celebrations. Midwinter is celebrated at research stations throughout Antarctica, as it represents the turning point in the long, dark winter months …

Bird Island Diary — May 2011

31 May, 2011 by BAS Bloggers

Life on Bird Island was made a little more interesting with the onset of an unforeseen blizzard which impacted smack-bang in the middle of the monthly Wanderer chick survey. The …

Bird Island Diary — October 2010

31 October, 2010 by Andrew Wood

This month the diary is mainly penned by the “new arrival”. I arrived in late September heralding the start of spring (but somebody forgot to tell the weather man). A …

Bird Island Diary — June 2010

30 June, 2010 by BAS Bloggers

by Claudia Mischler, Albatross Field Assistant June here on the little island was a fantastic month. We finally got a nice thick snow layer shortly before mid-winter. The white stuff …

Bird Island Diary — April 2010

30 April, 2010 by BAS Bloggers

April began as April begins every year on Bird Island, with the Wandering Albatross egg/chick survey. Wandering Albatross begin laying their eggs during December and the final egg is laid …

Bird Island Diary — March 2010

31 March, 2010 by BAS Bloggers

The month started with two days of gentoo penguin chick counts across the island; this involved most of the folks on the research station heading out to all the breeding …

Bird Island Diary — February 2010

28 February, 2010 by Stacey Adlard

February began with the whole island Wandering albatross census. This year we only have 697 active nests, which is sadly the lowest number on record. Very strong winds during January …

Bird Island Diary — October 2009

31 October, 2009 by BAS Bloggers

October is ‘peak season’ for the flying-bird fieldwork team on Bird Island. Both Derren and Stacey have spent long days in the field monitoring the arrival of the black-browed and …

Bird Island Diary — July 2009

30 July, 2009 by Stacey Adlard

Wildlife: July started in a rather lazy way, as we all recovered from the hectic midwinter celebrations of the week before. On the 1st, we were lucky enough to find …

Bird Island Diary — June 2009

30 June, 2009 by BAS Bloggers

As the island and its inhabitants settle further into winters icy grip (well, more slush than ice I’m afraid!) the last of the summer breeding birds vacates the island, leaving …

Bird Island Diary — May 2009

31 May, 2009 by BAS Bloggers

May is considered to be the month of change at Bird Island, between the mild summer and the Antarctic winter… and it is at Bird Island that those changes on …

Bird Island Diary — April 2009

30 April, 2009 by BAS Bloggers

The month of April had an interesting but late start for me on Bird Island, arriving back from a two-week stay (or as some less sympathetic base members have called …

Bird Island Diary — March 2009

31 March, 2009 by BAS Bloggers

Last month on Bird Island… After a little more than two years on this amazing island, sharing my daily life with great people and thousands of penguins, albatrosses, petrels and …

Bird Island Diary — February 2009

28 February, 2009 by BAS Bloggers

February is high summer on Bird Island. Although the days have started to get shorter, for the last two years February has brought some fine, settled days, perfect for exploring …

Bird Island Diary — December 2008

31 December, 2008 by Stacey Adlard

December was a busy month on Bird Island. With the breeding season in full swing, the field assistants were out at all hours monitoring, counting, checking, tagging and weighing various …

Bird Island Diary — July 2008

31 July, 2008 by BAS Bloggers

Just over a year ago, I was graduating from university. Following four years studying Marine and Environmental Biology at St Andrews, and with a lifelong interest in marine mammals, I …

Bird Island Diary — June 2008

30 June, 2008 by BAS Bloggers

June has been a busy month on the little rock. After Mays comings and goings we finally settled into winter with just the four of us. Despite the base accommodating …

Bird Island Diary — May 2008

31 May, 2008 by BAS Bloggers

May at Bird Island, first month of the winter… After a busy and long summer, May has been the first month without any ship calls with just the four winterers …

Bird Island Diary — February 2008

28 February, 2008 by BAS Bloggers

Being still in the midst of wildlife breeding season February is always a busy month at Bird Island keeping the zoological field assistants at a hectic pace. The young in …

Bird Island Diary — November 2007

30 November, 2007 by BAS Bloggers

This month’s diary entry will have the distinctive mark of a new arrival on Bird Island: his head filled with the overwhelming sights and sounds of this amazing place – …

Bird Island Diary — August 2007

31 August, 2007 by BAS Bloggers

By Rob Dunn Wintering Technician Welcome to the August diary from Bird Island. We have been enjoying the snow-covered hills that have now been around for a while. I remember …

Bird Island Diary — July 2007

31 July, 2007 by BAS Bloggers

Welcome back to BIRD ISLAND July diary, right in the middle of the winter. July has been the coldest month since the winter started but not only, it’s been also …

Bird Island Diary — May 2007

31 May, 2007 by BAS Bloggers

Welcome to a summary of what has been happening down here at Bird Island during the merry, merry month of May! While you all back in the Northern Hemisphere may …

Bird Island Diary — March 2007

31 March, 2007 by BAS Bloggers

Bird Island, March Dairy On 7th of March 17h00, I just came back from Big Mac (macaroni penguin colony) when Ali our Base Commander was calling the Base on the …

Bird Island Diary — January 2007

31 January, 2007 by BAS Bloggers

January – gone already – I cant believe it. This month is dedicated to the South Georgia Pipit – the most remarkable bird in the southern ocean in my opinion. …

Bird Island Diary — November 2006

30 November, 2006 by BAS Bloggers

November Newsletter – by Iain Staniland “Ah Remember remember the month of NovemberAlbatross penguins and pups” Anon. Well something like that anyway. This month I get the chance to write …

Bird Island Diary — July 2006

31 July, 2006 by BAS Bloggers

With the Antarctic Darts Championship under our belts, midwinter done and dusted and no imminent birthday celebrations, July was always going to be a quieter month. I thought I would …

Bird Island Diary – April 2006

30 April, 2006 by BAS Bloggers

What a month it has been. The first day of April bought the start of this year’s Wandering Albatross chick census, with the eight members of base all taking to …

Bird Island Diary – March 2006

31 March, 2006 by BAS Bloggers

And the end of another summer on Bird Island has arrived. The penguins have fledged, the albatross chicks are growing up fast with their adult feathers showing through under the …

Bird Island Diary – February 2006

28 February, 2006 by BAS Bloggers

Aaahhh, and relax. The Bird Island Redevelopment Project drew to a satisfied close on the 3rd February, with the removal of the building and demolition waste from the beach. We …

Bird Island Diary – January 2006

31 January, 2006 by BAS Bloggers

January was heralded by the obligatory hangovers, which were soon forgotten by getting back to work on seals, seabirds, IT, and multiple base tasks. The seal team closed the SSB …

Bird Island Diary – November 2005

30 November, 2005 by BAS Bloggers

Another month of comings and goings As mentioned at the end of last month, on the 29th, the Morrisons boys turned up, along with our resident base commander Vicky Auld, …

Bird Island Diary – October 2005

31 October, 2005 by BAS Bloggers

Bird frenzy October is always the transition month on Bird Island. Its begins with skiing, short-ish days, clear beaches with leopard seals and elephant seals matching fur-seal numbers, skies only …

Bird Island Diary – August 2005

31 August, 2005 by BAS Bloggers

A fun and frantic month Hello and welcome to Bird Island’s August web page! Well, it has been another fun-filled and frantic month. We have had a few extremes of …

Bird Island Diary – June 2005

30 June, 2005 by BAS Bloggers

The builders leave June has been one heck of a big month on Bird Island. The race to the finishing line for the new building, colder weather, midwinter celebrations, final …

Bird Island Diary – May 2005

31 May, 2005 by BAS Bloggers

Tommo arrives Well hello from Bird Island, I have just arrived on this wondrous isle this month, so as the new boy, it is my duty to write this newletter, …

Bird Island Diary – April 2005

30 April, 2005 by BAS Bloggers

Some final thoughts Some final thoughts before returning home… After 906 days living on what might equate to some as little more than a wind swept rock in the middle …

Bird Island Diary – March 2005

31 March, 2005 by BAS Bloggers

A doctor writes The duty of writing this month’s newsletter has fallen to me- Jenny, the base doctor. I have been at Bird Island research station for the last two …

Bird Island Diary – January 2005

31 January, 2005 by BAS Bloggers

A quiet month…. sort of The January diary for Bird Island is written by Isaac Forster and is available in pdf format by clicking the link below. Bird Island January …

Bird Island Diary – September 2004

30 September, 2004 by BAS Bloggers

Spring The Bird Island Castaways unchanged after 5 months of isolation….. September is the beginning of spring on Bird Island; many of the migratory birds are beginning to return, a …

Bird Island Diary – August 2004

31 August, 2004 by BAS Bloggers

One moonlit night The August diary for Bird Island is written by Chris Green and is available in pdf format by clicking the link below. Bird Island Diary – August …

Bird Island Diary – July 2004

31 July, 2004 by BAS Bloggers

A month of respite The July diary for Bird Island is written by Isaac Forster and is available in pdf format by clicking the link below. Bird Island Diary – …

Bird Island Diary – June 2004

30 June, 2004 by BAS Bloggers

Midwinter The June diary for Bird Island is written by Sarah Robinson and is available in pdf format by clicking the link below. Bird Island Diary – June 2004 (pdf …

Bird Island Diary – May 2004

31 May, 2004 by Dave Connor

Alex arrives The May diary for Bird Island is written by Alex Cottle and is available in pdf format by clicking the link below. Bird Island Diary – May 2004 …

Bird Island Diary – April 2004

30 April, 2004 by Dave Connor

Goodbye to Ben and Nic The April diary for Bird Island is written by Chris Green and is available in pdf format by clicking the link below. Bird Island Diary …

Bird Island Diary – March 2004

31 March, 2004 by Dave Connor

Where did all the time go? The March diary for Bird Island is written by Ben Phalan and is available in pdf format by clicking the link below. Bird Island …

Bird Island Diary – February 2004

28 February, 2004 by Dave Connor

Picnics and chicks When you are stuck on an island, size 5km by 1km in the South Atlantic most requirements have a habit of being postponed all too frequently. Necessities …

Bird Island Diary – December 2003

31 December, 2003 by Jaume Forcada

The Bird Island Flying Times December’s Bird Island newsletter could be called the The Bird Island Times, or, to be more precise, the The Bird Island Flying Times, given the …

Bird Island Diary – November 2003

30 November, 2003 by Dave Connor

Bird Island Dorchester November has been a month of endless variety on Bird Island from both science and base life aspects. The most visible change has been the emergence of …

Bird Island Diary – October 2003

31 October, 2003 by Dave Connor

Birds and big noses October has seen the skies above the island come alive with birds, the beaches with elephant and fur seals, and the steep rocky slopes with Macaroni …

Bird Island Diary – August 2003

31 August, 2003 by Dave Connor

Cakes and messages in bottles As I am sitting in my room trying to write this newsletter, an adult male fur seal, having returned from an oceanic trip, is lying …

Bird Island Diary – July 2003

31 July, 2003 by Dave Connor

A varied month This month we lost a friend and kindred spirit when Kirsty Brown was killed by a leopard seal at Rothera. The sudden loss of someone so young …

Bird Island Diary – June 2003

30 June, 2003 by Dave Connor

Midwinter The true South Georgia winter weather has now firmly established itself on this wee island in the Southern Ocean. As I write, ensconced within the shelter of base, the …

Bird Island Diary – May 2003

31 May, 2003 by Dave Connor

Counting birds We spent the first couple of days of May on Bird Island, counting birds believe it or not! The first day was reserved, as is customary on every …

Bird Island Diary – February 2003

28 February, 2003 by Dave Connor

WANTED – seals, penguins and albatrosses WANTED!! Have you seen this pup, penguin, whale, moth or worm? No sorry we haven’t but we’ll ask our mates! Come on chaps I’m …

Bird Island Diary – December 2002

31 December, 2002 by Dave Connor

Christmas and new arrivals December is traditionally one of the busiest months here at Bird Island and this year was no exception, both at work and at play. The month …

Bird Island Diary – November 2002

30 November, 2002 by Dave Connor

Practice emergencies and a real birthday November usually marks the beginning of summer for Bird Island. However, the winter has stubbornly refused to depart and every time we thought the …

Bird Island Diary – September 2002

30 September, 2002 by Dave Connor

Spring is in the air Welcome once again to another month at Bird Island. September seems to have brought a considerable amount of change. With winter rapidly heading towards its …

Bird Island Diary – August 2002

31 August, 2002 by Dave Connor

More sketches I can hardly believe that August has already come and gone. It still feels like it should be sometime back around July. Time has flown, as Bird Island …

Bird Island Diary — July 2002

31 July, 2002 by BAS Bloggers

Sledging and Sketches Hello and welcome to another month in the life of the Bird Island winterers – Jane, Ben, Nick and Matt. This is my second winter and second …

Bird Island Diary — June 2002

30 June, 2002 by BAS Bloggers

Midwinter Welcome to Bird Island, we are now well into winter, and more and more leopard seals are hauling out on the beaches around base. Yesterday, we had four: two …

Bird Island Diary — May 2002

31 May, 2002 by BAS Bloggers

Snow and winter visitors Last month we brought you pictures of blue skies, green hills, and a rather summery-looking Bird Island. Some of you have been wondering if we are …

Bird Island Diary — April 2002

30 April, 2002 by BAS Bloggers

Last Call as winter begins Welcome to Winter on Bird Island – at last! It has been a very interesting and unusual month here. The last newsletter ended with “under …

Bird Island Diary — March 2002

31 March, 2002 by BAS Bloggers

The end of the season approaches Bonjour à tous et à toutes, The start of March was punctuated by departures and arrivals. As RRS Ernest Shackleton sailed past, we knew …

Bird Island Diary — January 2002

31 January, 2002 by BAS Bloggers

A New Year begins Welcome to another instalment of the life and times of Bird Island and its inhabitants, human and animal. Our newsletter this month actually begins in late …

Bird Island Diary — December 2001

31 December, 2001 by Dave Connor

Fur Seals and Festivities Everyone that I had met before my visit to Bird Island told me that I would love this tiny isolated island and it’s wildlife. A visiting …

Bird Island Diary — November 2001

30 November, 2001 by Dave Connor

First Impressions The peaceful isolation of Bird Island was almost shattered with the arrival of the James Clark Ross (JCR) on the 2nd. But as it turned out the shattering …

Bird Island Diary — October 2001

31 October, 2001 by BAS Bloggers

Summer Personnel Arrive The island silence of waves and birdcall was shattered by the cacophony caused by fuel barrels being rolled up a steel walkway, and numerous people marvelling at …

Bird Island Diary — September 2001

30 September, 2001 by BAS Bloggers

Visitors come to Bird Island With only one month of winter left, September is most definitely a time when winterers concentrate lots of their spare energies on enjoying many of …

Bird Island Diary — August 2001

31 August, 2001 by BAS Bloggers

Preparing for Summer, Sledging and a Birthday Hello again from the Bird Island Trio! Here we are in the middle of winter with deep snow and freezing weather. Oh no, …

Bird Island Diary — July 2001

31 July, 2001 by BAS Bloggers

Hot Chillies, Fine Wines and Frozen Toilets! “Go on,I dare you to eat a whole chilli.” And so the month started with the utterance of these fateful words. Sure, the …

Bird Island Diary — June 2001

30 June, 2001 by BAS Bloggers

Midwinter games June sees us in deepest winter here at Bird Island now. The nights are at their longest, but luckily since we are in sub-Antarctica and relatively far north …

Bird Island Diary — May 2001

31 May, 2001 by Paul Cousens

Seals amid the winter’s snow May saw the onset of true blue winter weather, and the much awaited arrival of the leopard seals (leps), two of these toothy beasts hauled …

Bird Island Diary — March 2001

31 March, 2001 by BAS Bloggers

The beakers versus the builders Hello everybody. This is going to be the builder’s version of events for March. Simon Berry is your host for this exciting and funny newsletter. …

Bird Island Diary — January 2001

31 January, 2001 by BAS Bloggers

A time of rapid change So what’s been happening this month? Unfortunately for you all, it’s my turn to try and provide a witty commentary on the exciting events of …

Bird Island Diary — December 2000

31 December, 2000 by BAS Bloggers

Seals with video cameras and seasonal festivities Bird Island Diary When we were asked who would write the December newsletter, we were told in the same breath that as the …

Bird Island Diary — September 2000

30 September, 2000 by BAS Bloggers

The birds, the unrelenting wind, and a 19th century calm Bird Island Diary With winter and her easy pace almost through, September is a month of great transformation on Bird …

Bird Island Diary — August 2000

31 August, 2000 by BAS Bloggers

An Introduction to Bird Island Bird Island Diary Wildlife on Bird Island: At this time of year the wildlife is nothing compared to the summer. Presently there are seals mostly …

Avian flu now detected in albatrosses on South Georgia

19 February, 2024

SOUTH GEORGIA. Update, February 2024 – Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) continues to affect the wildlife on the subantarctic islands of South Georgia. The latest results from samples taken from …

Celebrating Polar Pride Day 2022

18 November, 2022

Today (18 November) British Antarctic Survey (BAS) joins global celebrations to mark LGBTQIA+ STEM DAY and Polar Pride Day. Polar Pride is a celebration of the contribution of LGBTQIA+ people in polar research …

Islands given protected status

5 July, 2022

Today, Tuesday 5 July, the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) announced the designation of the entire landmass of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands …

BAS’ 2021-2022 field season has ended

27 May, 2022

The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) field season has finished for another year.   RRS Sir David Attenborough departed Rothera Research Station for the final time earlier in May and is …

Job opportunities in Antarctica

9 March, 2022

Looking for a new challenge? British Antarctic Survey has launched its latest recruitment campaign for a wide range of jobs in Antarctica for the 2022/23 Antarctic season. Antarctica is the …

Opportunities for Antarctic research – Apply now

11 January, 2022

Applications to carry out small-scale research projects in the Antarctic in the 2022/23 season are invited from UK-based researchers. The Collaborative Antarctic Science Scheme (CASS) provides opportunities for scientists in …

Celebrating Christmas in Antarctica 2021

23 December, 2021

2021 has been a rollercoaster year for British Antarctic Survey, operating research stations in the Antarctic and the sub-Antarctic through the Covid-19 pandemic, while our new polar research vessel, the …

Antarctic seabird faces declining populations

14 December, 2021

Data collected from a long-term study by British Antarctic Survey (BAS) scientists shows declining populations of an already relatively rare Antarctic seabird, the South Georgia shag.  Published in the journal …

Celebrating Midwinter in Antarctica

21 June, 2021

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is celebrating Midwinter’s Day (Monday 21 June) as staff in three British Antarctic Territory Research Stations mark the shortest and darkest day of the year on the frozen continent. The tradition began in …

Penguins benefit from extended maritime zone

15 January, 2021

Gentoo penguins are benefiting from a newly enlarged no-fishing zone (known as a No-Take Zone NTZ) around the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia following British Antarctic Survey (BAS) tracking research …

Festive Greetings from BAS!

18 December, 2020

Staff at British Antarctic Survey (BAS) ships and research stations prepare to celebrate the festive season. It’s been a year like no other, with extraordinary arrangements made to keep facilities …

Plastic Pollution reaching Antarctica

28 April, 2020

Food wrapping, fishing gear and plastic waste continue to reach the Antarctic. Two new studies into how plastic debris is reaching sub-Antarctic islands are published in the journal Environment International. …

Festive Greetings from Antarctica

20 December, 2019

As you make the last preparations for the festive period, spare a thought for those who will be working away in Antarctica for British Antarctic Survey. Over 300 staff, scientists …

New funding uses seabirds as sentinels of South Atlantic

21 January, 2019

British Antarctic Survey scientist Professor Richard Phillips has been awarded funding to use newly developed radar-detecting tags to track the interactions between wandering albatrosses and fishing vessels in the South …

Scientists join policy makers to discuss conservation

22 October, 2018

BAS marine researchers join nearly 300 international delegates at the annual meeting of the Convention on the Conservation or Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) beginning in Hobart today. For the …

BBC Blockbuster Blue Planet II returns

23 October, 2017

Blue Planet II – the nature documentary that explores the deepest and darkest realms of the world’s oceans – is back on the BBC some 16 years after it was …

New study reveals what penguins eat

15 February, 2017

The longest and most comprehensive study to date of what penguins eat is published this month. The study, published in the journal Marine Biology, examines the diets of gentoo penguins …

Conservation plans to protect the albatross

11 January, 2017

The UK Overseas Territory of South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands is this week launching an ambitious conservation effort to help protect the albatross. South Georgia is a globally important …

Construction partner announced

4 January, 2017

Construction expert BAM has been chosen to partner with British Antarctic Survey (BAS) to modernise UK Antarctic and other research facilities, enabling British scientists to continue delivering world class research …

Sounds of Christmas from Bird Island

25 December, 2016

Dr Lucy Quinn is zoological field assistant at the British Antarctic Survey research station on Bird Island, South Georgia – a job which involves daily expeditions come rain or shine …

New field season begins

29 November, 2016

As spring returns to the southern hemisphere British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has started another research season which will take them over land, sea and ice in search of answers to …

Review of threats to seabirds

1 August, 2016

A review of breeding distributions, population trends, threats and key priorities for conservation actions on land and at sea for the 29 species covered by the Agreement on the Conservation …

Albatrosses use different regions when on migration

25 July, 2016

A new study of the movements of sub-Antarctic albatrosses tracked from two remote islands some 5,000 km apart, shows that although the birds from each breeding site take similar routes around the Southern Ocean, they forage in different areas for the majority of the time. The results are published this month in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.

PRESS RELEASE: Cool Antarctic jobs

12 January, 2016

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is recruiting now. The smooth operation and maintenance of our research stations depends on skilled technical support teams. Check out our latest vacancies!

NEWS STORY: Polar Medal awards

8 January, 2016

Two British Antarctic Survey (BAS) personnel, and one former member of staff, have been awarded the Polar Medal. The announcement was made today (Fri. 8th Jan 2016) in the London …

NEWS STORY: Assessing seabird communities

7 October, 2015

Antarctic seabird community structure remains unaffected by changes in food availability A new study of sub-Antarctic seabirds shows that their community structure (how they co-exist and share resources) is unaffected …

NEWS STORY: Bird tracking aids seabird research

18 August, 2015

Bird tracking technology reveals future climate may affect seabird feeding behaviour A two year study of shags on the Isle of May National Nature Reserve in Scotland reveals that when …

PRESS RELEASE: Scent matters to fur seals

10 August, 2015

Antarctic fur seals have unique ‘scent profile’ to recognise their pups Researchers studying Antarctic fur seals have discovered their scent has a unique ‘profile’ which enables them to recognise their …

NEWS STORY: New study uncovers how petrels co-exist

14 July, 2015

New study uncovers how petrels in sub-Antarctic co-exist during the winter For the first time, scientists understand more clearly how birds living on the remote sub-Antarctic island of Bird Island …

NEWS STORY: Antarctic fur seals monitored

1 April, 2015

New study tracks feeding behaviour of Antarctic fur seals in winter During the Antarctic Summer female fur seals feed in the waters around their breeding breaches. In winter, when their …

NEWS STORY: Age does not wither

16 February, 2015

Does age matter? Maybe not if you’re a wandering albatross A new study of the wandering albatrosses breeding on the sub-antarctic island of Bird Island (off South Georgia) reveals that …

NEWS STORY: Christmas in Antarctica

19 December, 2014

British Antarctic Survey staff prepare to celebrate Christmas far away from home As you make the last preparations for the festive period, spare a thought for those who will be …

PRESS RELEASE: Fur seal genetics and climate change

23 July, 2014

Genetic study shows major impact of climate change on Antarctic fur seals Genetic analysis of Antarctic fur seals, alongside decades of in-depth monitoring,* has provided unique insights into the effect …

NEWS STORY: Midwinter’s Day in Antarctica

20 June, 2014

Midwinter’s Day celebrations take place at Antarctic Research Stations Staff at the British Antarctic Survey are celebrating Midwinter’s Day in Antarctica. In a tradition which began in the days of …

BLOG: Bird Island Station Leader

28 May, 2014

We caught up with Bird Island Research Station Leader Adam Bradley who was living and working on the island when the BBC crew came to film Deadly Pole to Pole. …

NEWS STORY: Bird Island on CBBC

27 May, 2014

Deadly Pole to Pole at Bird Island Tune in to CBBC today at 5:25pm to see adventurer Steve Backshall on Bird Island as part of the BBC’s Deadly Pole to …

PRESS RELEASE: Penguins monitored with tags

21 May, 2014

Electronic tags provide 10 years worth of penguin data A team of scientists, led by researchers from the British Antarctic Survey, has used tiny electronic tags to study the decline …

NEWS STORY: Greetings from Antarctica

24 December, 2013

Christmas messages from Antarctic staff Many British Antarctic Survey scientists and support staff will be spending this Christmas thousands of miles from home on the frozen continent. BAS has five …

NEWS STORY: Staff head into deep Antarctica

20 December, 2013

British Antarctic Survey field season is underway On the eve of the centenary year of Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition the ship which bears his name is playing a crucial role …

NEWS STORY: Age no barrier for albatrosses

12 March, 2013

Saving the best for last – wandering albatrosses” last push for successful parenting Romanticised in poetry, the wandering albatross is famed for its enormous wing-span and long life. The bird …

PRESS RELEASE: Breeding habits of albatrosses

30 April, 2012

Antarctic albatross displays shift in breeding habits A new study of the wandering albatross – one of the largest birds on Earth – has shown that some of the birds …

Frozen Planet: Autumn arrives

15 November, 2011

This week on Frozen Planet (BBC1 Wednesday 16 November at 21.00, repeated Sunday at 16.10) the programme explores autumn in the polar regions. As life cools down in the Antarctic, …

Frozen Planet: Summer in Antarctica

7 November, 2011

This week on Frozen Planet (BBC1 Wednesday 9 November at 21.00, repeated Sunday at 16.10) the programme explores Summer in the Polar Regions. As life thrives in the Antarctic, viewers …

This week on Frozen Planet

31 October, 2011

This week on Frozen Planet (BBC1 Wednesday 2 November at 21.00, repeated Sunday at 16.10) the programme explores Spring in the Polar Regions and how life begins the race to …

Midwinter’s Day Celebrations

21 June, 2011

Staff at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) celebrate Midwinter’s Day today. Celebrated as the Summer Solstice in the northern hemisphere, Midwinter’s day is the shortest and darkest day for the …

PRESS RELEASE: Albatrosses feed with whales

7 October, 2009

Albatross camera reveals fascinating feeding interaction with killer whale Scientists from British Antarctic Survey, National Institute of Polar Research (NIPR), Tokyo, and Hokkaido University, Japan, have recorded the first observations …

Southern Ocean Clouds

The biases observed in climate models over the Southern Ocean in surface radiation and sea surface temperature are larger than anywhere else in the world. They have a fundamental impact …

Bird Island Decarbonisation

In order to decarbonise our remote Bird Island Research Station on the sub-Antarctic Island of South Georgia we will be installing a solar photovoltaic and energy storage system.

Black-browed Albatross Juvenile Tracking

Until the last decade, South Georgia held the third largest population of black-browed albatrosses at any island group (Phillips et al. 2016) [4]. However, assuming trends at surveyed sites are …


CONSEC is addressing the challenge to understand the links between the biodiversity, structure and function of Southern Ocean ecosystems and the impacts of rapid environmental changes to improve scientific knowledge …

Grey-headed Albatross Juvenile Tracking

The grey-headed albatross is listed as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because of a decline since the 1970s of the largest global breeding population, which is …

Higher Predators – Long-Term Science

The British Antarctic Survey carries out Long Term Science that measures changes in Antarctic ecosystems and seeks to understand the underlying drivers and processes. Marine predators are sensitive to changes …

Impact of Plastic in the Polar Regions

An estimated 75% of all the litter in our oceans is plastic, and around 5 million tonnes of plastic waste enter the ocean annually. Scientific observations of a significant concentration …

Long term monitoring of plastics

This long-term study monitors the impact of marine plastics and other debris on breeding seabirds at Bird Island. Researchers have monitored the levels of marine plastics and other material from …

Spatial Segregation of Seabirds at South Georgia

Seabirds are amongst the most globally threatened birds, often as a consequence of incidental mortality (bycatch) in fisheries [1] [2]. At South Georgia, wandering albatrosses have declined since the 1970s [3], and are listed …


Realising the benefits of the Antarctic Infrastructure Modernisation programme.

White-chinned Petrel Tracking

The white-chinned petrel is the most common bird species recorded as fisheries bycatch in the Southern Ocean [1]. Although currently listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, limited population trend data …

Wildlife from Space

Many populations of wildlife are remote, inaccessible or difficult to monitor. The advent of sub-metre, Very-High-Resolution (VHR) satellite imagery may enable us study these animals in a much more efficient …