“The wildlife on South Georgia is awesome and Bird Island is its jewel in the crown. Our trip will show us Albatrosses, Penguins, Petrels and Seals in numbers almost beyond counting: it is a biologist’s and a photographer’s dream; especially if you add the backdrop of the coast and mountain scenery.”
Inspired by my family connections with Antarctica, which go back three generations, in my early teens my ambition was kindled to travel ‘South’: With my love of birdlife, I was determined that this was to be as an Ornithologist. Fieldwork, expeditions and study followed and in 1980 I joined the British Antarctic Surveys ‘Birds and Seals’ team to travel to South Georgia; here I spent four summers and a winter on Bird Island and a winter at Grytviken, finishing with a sailing trip to the Antarctic Peninsula. For my work I was awarded Polar Medal and also have a small hill ‘Copestake Peak’ named after me on South Georgia.
The wildlife on South Georgia is awesome and Bird Island is its jewel in the crown. Our trip will show us Albatrosses, Penguins, Petrels and Seals in numbers almost beyond counting: it is a biologist’s and a photographer’s dream; especially if you add the backdrop of the coast and mountain scenery. As a field scientist, I found a place of magic where our lives became deeply tuned to the wildlife around us. The 80’s was an exciting time; the patient field work of our predecessors were being enhanced by modern techniques and computer statistics: questions about how the seabirds and seals related to the marine environment could begin to be answered. Back in UK my career led me to work as a Hydrologist with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, based in Ullapool. My birding continues as an active amateur ornithologist participating in many national surveys focusing on my Highland patch. Like South Georgia this area has stunning coastal and mountain scenery to explore. My work with Antarctic seabirds led me to sailing, I have my own small yacht: there are few anchorages amongst the west coast of Scotland and the Northern Isles that I have not visited. This includes most of the well-known seabird colonies, with their Gannets, Auks, Skua’s, Shearwaters and Petrels. The science unravelling their story in Scotland mirrors the work I undertook on South Georgia, and takes answers to questions to a new level of understanding.
What can I bring to the trip? Enthusiasm for the wild life we will see, backed up with knowledge of their biology and the science that underpins this (I can add many anecdotes and stories of the life we lived in our remote bases to achieve this). Antarctic wildlife is facing change, driven by pressures of climate and marine exploitation. Some species benefit others do not; if like me, you find inspiration by seeing wildlife in their element, you will want to ask the questions as to what we can do best to ensure their future. Finally, I am happily married with two grown up children, we all have a great love and respect for the outdoors and its wildlife. Living in Ullapool inspires this and feeds our energy for sharing our experiences. I look forward to meeting you all.