Our new routine

As birders here in Kerguelen, most of our work must be done on species living in sites quite far from the base (sometimes we also work on marine mammals too). We usually leave for a few days to a few weeks depending on the amount of work to be done. Usually though, we're away from the base 7 to 10 days in a row. The schedule of our experiment is already decided for the next few months but we still have work to do before leaving. First of all, we have to fill a go-away form with the dates, places and names of the people participating. Sometimes, we need to find people to go with us when there are not enough of us – they are not birders like us but are willing to offer their help and discover new sites. This form needs to be signed by a bunch of people – us, the district's « chief », the cook (he needs to know when we're here to make the amount of food needed), the person in charge of the different scientific programmes in some cases, the boss of the people who ask to come with us when there are extra people, the chief of security and the doctor. After that, we fill a food request form for the perishable we wish to take with us – usually we ask to bring some butter, cheese, bread, garlic and onions, eggs and meat. We carry this kind of products to make our meals out of base more enjoyable, at least for the first few days of our stay. Then we make sure to re-read our scientific protocoles and send our last emails to the the lab (to ask questions, or tell them about problems with the devices we need to deploy or simply to check they are activated). We gather the equipment we will need and we are ready to go! Then, there are two choices: the boat, which brings people to different islands in the Gulf of Morbihan or... our feet for the sites located on the Courbet Peninsula! I work almost exclusively on sites in the pensinsula and most walks take anywhere between 3 to 7-8 hours. When we reach the hut, we can make ourself home. There are waterproof containers with the food we can use. We're lucky, we even have real Nutella (a bit hard because of the cold, but it's still very enjoyable) and my favorite brand of cereals! We have to write down everything we use so the hut can be restocked later. In some huts, they are generators and we need to write down the amount of time spent using them. Few huts are also equiped with solar pannels. In-between work sessions, we usually have a bit of time to read, write, go for walks and go take photos. Every day at 5.30 pm, we are « linked to the rest of the world » since this is the time when we call the communication office on base via VHF to 1- let them know we're still alive, 2- get the weather forecasts for the next few days, which allow us to modify our plans for work and transits if needed, 3- sometimes to ask or answer questions about work to other people or to communicate important pieces of information. Before leaving, we tidy and clean the place so the following visitors can find it nice and clean. Then there is the walk back, a few days on base – with all the confort of modern life: we can finally take a good shower, send emails or receive phone calls, have a heater in our room, use the washer and drier... it's like luxury! And then we start all over again!

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My room in the L9 building (it's luxury!)

Kerguelen base routine field Port-aux-Français

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