I leave tomorrow night for Svalbard – a group of islands 500 km north of northern Norway and about 1000 km south of the North Pole. A magical place…and the home of millions of breeding seabirds – the reason for my going. Like last year, I will be working on a project studying Brunnich’s Guillemots (Thick-billed Murres). These are amazing birds: a kilogram of biting, squirming muscle that tough out the severest conditions to breed and raise young.
Although it’s always tough to leave friends and family behind, I seem to have this penchant for distant, lonely (and cold) coastlines which this opportunity fulfils. So I’m torn….but still on my way.
The “regime” will be harder and more involved than last year: we will be in a tent camp close to the Murre cliffs at Diabosodden for 6 days a week and back in the town of Longyearbyen for only 1 day – enough to shower, wash clothes, and get groceries (last year it was 5 and 2). Still, if you’re going to do it right, you have to immerse yourself.
So, stay tuned and I will try to blog at least once a week from Svalbard to introduce you to the place, the people, the work, and, most importantly, to these amazing birds.