Giving a talk at Timsbury Nats

Giving a talk at Timsbury Nats

Last night, on Monday 20 March 2017, I did my second talk at Timsbury Nats called Born to Bird: Antarctica and Beyond. They are on the other side of the Chew Valley, where I live. My ringing trainer Mike Bailey lives there and is involved in the group.

They are such a lovely group, who sent me a card signed by the whole committee when I was being victimised by Islamaphobic trolls. I think that’s why I love talking to local nature groups so much.

My talk was about my world birding trips from 2014 onwards, including Antarctica. The last time I spoke for them was October 2014, 2 1/2 years ago, so I think I’ve improved a bit since then! It was really great to write and give an almost completely new talk, so let me know if I’ve talked to your group before but you would like me back.

The first photo is me jumping into a pool full of icy seawater, an Antarctica tradition and the second and third are of me getting up close to a Gentoo Penguin.

Young conservationist Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig getting out of Antarctic sea water
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig
Young conservationist Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig with a Gentoo Penguin, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig
Young conservationist Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig “hugging” a Gentoo Penguin, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig
Rockhopper and Chinstrap Penguin, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Young conservationist Mya-Rose Birdgirl Craig

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

Leopard Seal killing penguin in Antarctica

When I was in Antarctica in December 2016,  we witnessed a really rare sight of a Leopard Seal hunting penguins, catching one, killing it and then thrashing it from side to side, to skin it. This is my video of the seal skinning the penguin.

http://youtu.be/Urun__AMSKs

 

Leopard Seal and Adélie penguin

Leopard Seal

Chile – 4 January 2016, Travelling home and photo highlights of Antarctica

Chile – 4 January 2016, Travelling home and photo highlights of Antarctica

We were booked onto an evening flight from Santiago to Madrid. The flight was on time, and even though it was late in the UK, I had time to watch a few films before I was forced to switch off by my Mum.

Travelling home is always a good time to think about my trip. Going to Antarctica was very special and I am really grateful to my parents for taking me.

I think it’s really important for everyone who visits Antarctica to be an Ambassador and tell everyone they can about how beautiful and special it is and that it must be protected at all costs.

We were on time getting to Madrid and had time for dinner before going to our gate and finding that our flight to London was delayed by an hour. That is always a pain when you just want to get home. It meant that we missed out on our coach, so by the time we reached Compton Martin it was 2 am on Tuesday 5th January 2016…Only 5 hours of sleep before school, but I’m used to that from this trip.

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Chris Craig at Madrid Airport

Highlights of Antarctica:

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

Bird List for the Drake Passage and Antarctica

Bird List for the Drake Passage and Antarctica

Birds and animals seen on Antarctica Voyage (the Drake Passage and Antarctica):

Birds seen on Antarctica Voyage:

Black-browed Albatross

Southern Royal Albatross and Black-browed Albatross

Gray Mantled Albatross

Northern Giant Petrel

Gentoo Penguin

Adélie Penguin

Snow Petrel
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

30 new birds

Adelie Penguin
Rockhopper Penguin
Gentoo Penguin
Chinstrap Penguin
Macaroni Penguin
King Penguin
Emperor Penguin
Black-browed Albatross
Wandering Albatross
Southern Royal Albatross
Northern Royal Albatross
Grey-Mantled Albatross
Southern Fulmar
Southern Giant Petrel
Northern Giant Petrel
Wilson’s Storm Petrel
Grey-backed Storm Petrel
Black-bellied Storm Petrel
White-chinned Petrel
Cape Petrel
Antarctic Petrel
Snow Petrel
Common Diving Petrel
Snowy Sheathbill
Sooty Shearwater
Great Shearwater
Brown Skua
Southern Polar Skua
Thin-billed Prion
Antarctic Prion
Antarctic Cormorant
Imperial Cormorant

Animals seen on Antarctica Voyage:

Elephant Seal

Fin Whale

Orca

Leopard Seal
Elephant Seal
Antarctic Fur Seal
Crabeater Seal
Weddell Seal
Fin Whale
Humpback Whale
Orca

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

Antarctica Voyage Day 11 – 29th December 2015- Flying out of King George Island

Antarctica Voyage Day 11 – 29th December 2015- Flying out of King George Island

Today was our last day in Antarctica. It snowed all morning so it was an apt end to our voyage, which had been in the calm waters and best weather of the season so far.

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Vavilov
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

There was a flight load of passengers arriving from Chile to join our ship, whilst we would catch the plane on its return back to Punta Arenas.

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Vavilov with new friends
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

New friends made on Vavilov
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

We had to have our luggage ready, as it was taken directly to the airport.

We left the boat by Zodiac and then once landed on King George Island, had to take our hand luggage plus coats and walking boots with us. We were still in the shipping issue waterproof trousers, coats and wellies as after getting off Zodiac boats at the Chilean Research Station, we had to walk 2 miles (carrying our hand luggage) through deep snow and slush to the airstrip.

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Memorial to Antarctica Treaty, Chilean Research Station
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Memorial to Antarctica Treaty, Chilean Research Station
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Memorial to Antarctica Treaty, Chilean Research Station
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Chilean Research Station
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Chilean Research Station
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Chilean Research Station arrows

Chilean Research Station
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Chilean Research Station
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Chilean Research Station
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

I was particularly interested in the research station, to see if there was any rubbish around. Although I think things would be improved with rubbish cleared up and drums stored out of sight in a safe place, the stations were not too bad.

We were expecting the runway to be tiny, but there were 3 planes waiting for passengers.

First stop was to get our Chilean Antarctica passport stamps in and out, before walking closer to our plane swapping boots, trousers and coats before getting our plane.

Antarctica passport stamp

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig new friends

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Our flight was delayed but it was still light, as we flew over the continent and sea.

Back in Punta Arenas, we had a quick stop over before a morning flight.

It was a fantastic end to the trip of a lifetime. Maybe one day I will return as a crew…

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

Antarctica Voyage Day 10 – 28th December 2015 – Hope Bay

Antarctica Voyage Day 10 – 28th December 2015 – Hope Bay

This morning we awoke to lots of icebergs and ice.
After breakfast, we arrived at a really beautiful bay, called Hope Bay. Here we had a Zodiac cruise around, which is the site of a large Argentinian research station, which is run as a military base, with scientists, their families, medical facilities and a school.
Here there were 100,000 penguin pairs, many of them out of view! Mainly Adele but some Gentoo.

Adelie Penguin colony, Hope Bay

Adelie Penguin colony, Hope Bay

Adelie Penguin colony, Hope Bay

We first saw a Weddell Seal, new for the trip and after a while we saw a Leopard Seal in the water, going up and down the edge of the land looking for a seal. Not long afterwards, it caught a seal and slapped it against the water, to skin it. It was incredible watching this and apparently a very rare sight.
Back at the ship, we had a raging group of Orca stay close around the ship for about 1 and a half hours, a fantastic sight. One of the females had a young one with them. The Orca we had been seeing before were type B but this group were type A, which is very rare.

2 adults and a young Orca

Orca

In the evening we had the Captain’s dinner, which was a nice end to the trip. There have been nine of us who are between 12 and 15 years old and we have had lots of fun hanging out together. I really hope that we all stay in touch. Apart from me, there was one girl from Canada and everyone else living in America.

Best birds and animals of the day:

Adelie Penguin
Gentoo Penguin
Wilson’s Storm Petrel
Antarctic Cormorant
Kelp Gull
Antarctic Ten
Brown Skua
Snowy Sheafbill
Leopard Seal
Weddell Seal
Humpback Whale
Orca

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

Antarctica Voyage Day 9 – 27 December 2015 – Landing on the Antarctic Peninsula

Antarctica Voyage Day 9 – 27 December 2015 – Landing on the Antarctic Peninsula

This morning wake up was an hour early at 6.00 am, as we were due out on the Zodiacs at 7.45 am to visit Paulet Island. However, there was too much ice on the sea to get there. The area was stunning with icebergs the size of islands and huge amounts of ice on the sea.

Instead of landing, we had a group of 6-8 Orca (Killer Whales) which we managed to get close to. Orcas are actually whale killing dolphins. We had the most fantastic views of them for over half an hour. They were in and out of the water in between floating ice, showing their black and white bodies.

Orca

A little later we were getting into Zodiacs and cruising between icebergs. Almost immediately, we were rewarded with close views of two Snow Petrel, flying around in front of a massive iceberg and also over our heads. They were the most beautiful birds and definitely worth waiting for close views.

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Chris Craig on a zodiac cruise
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Chris Craig on a zodiac cruise
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Snow Petrel
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

Adelie Penguin on ice

In the middle of our zodiac cruise, we met with the other boats and were given cups of hot chocolate, before we continued our wildlife watching.

Back on the boat, we were lucky enough to witness a very rare sight. We watched as a group of about 12-15 Orca harassed a female Humpback Whale, which Jimmy explained was actually trying to drown its calf. The Humpback wasn’t doing anything to stop them, just staying in the area. He wondered whether the mother was staying as part of a mourning process. Jimmy, the nature expert, said that this was a very rare occurrence but they had seen evidence of it on the last three voyages. The first time all that remained was an oil slick with huge numbers of Wilson’s Storm Petrel on the water feeding. This was the first time he had seen the killing in action. Only a couple of people saw the calf, as it was being forced to stay underwater until it drowned. I know it’s nature, but I found it really sad.

In the afternoon, we landed in Brown Bluff, on the mainland Antarctic continent. Landing on islands and cruising close to the mainland shore was fantastic, but there was something very special about actually landing on the Mainland Antarctic Continent. It is something I have really wanted to do since I was 9 years old, my main ambition.

There were 20,000 penguin pairs here, mainly Adelie Penguins which had chicks and Gentoo with eggs. Brown Skuas were here as well trying to get eggs or even chicks.

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Brown Buff, Antarctic Mainland
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Brown Buff, Antarctic Mainland
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Adelie Penguin colony, Brown Buff, Antarctic Mainland
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Adelie Penguin colony, Brown Buff, Antarctic Mainland
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Adelie Penguin Brown Buff, Antarctic Mainland
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Adelie Penguin Brown Buff, Antarctic Mainland
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Adelie Penguin Brown Buff, Antarctic Mainland
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Adelie Penguin Brown Buff, Antarctic Mainland
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Adelie Penguin colony, Brown Buff, Antarctic Mainland
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Adelie Penguin with chick Brown Buff, Antarctic Mainland
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Brown Buff, Antarctic Mainland
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

There were also Snow Petrel nesting high on the cliff as well as Kelp Gull lower down.

Adelie Penguin near Brown Buff, Antarctic Mainland
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

 

We have had strict rules in relation to our landings. First, we had to vacuum our clothes and belongings, especially Velcro, to remove seeds and plant matter so they did not become alien plants in Antarctica. We also had to scrub and disinfect our boots each time we left the boots. Also, not getting close to any birds or animals and not removing anything at all from any place. The staff on our boat are really dedicated and so care about preserving Antarctica. However, this may not be the same for all ship crew. The numbers of visitors have increased massively over the last 20 years and so the impact of passenger landings has to be considered.

The research shows that nesting penguins are pretty robust but other birds nesting at landing sites may be affected by disturbance. Other issues might be the trampling of lichen and other rare fauna. At the moment things are self-regulated through the Antarctica tourism group however there seems to be no real way of punishing persistent offenders. I think overall that although there is a limited impact from tourism this plays an important part in ensuring that people know and care about this continent, which is crucial to stop countries from exploiting the area.

Best birds and animals of the day:
Snow Petrel
Kelp Gull
Brown Skua
Adelie Penguin
Gentoo Penguin
Orca
Humpback Whales

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

Antarctic Voyage Day 8 – 26th December 2015 – Aitcho Island

Antarctic Voyage Day 8 – 26th December 2015 – Aitcho Island

This morning we woke up to the good news that my friend and her parents were evacuated from the boat at about 4 am, to catch a flight to Punto Arenas. Her dad was now in hospital there and being treated for his heart attack. Hopefully her dad will be well enough to travel back to Vancouver very soon.

The boat moved south, so that at 10 am we could travel by Zodiac to Aicho (HO) Island, where there was a colony of Chinstrap and a few colonies of Gentoo Penguins. There were about 5,000 of each but most were out of view. We had to walk through snow to get to them. There were also Brown Skuas getting hold of eggs and breaking them open. Sometimes they were able to grab a Gentoo Penguin chick.

Aitcho Island, Antarctica

Chinstrap Penguin colony, Aitcho Island, Antarctica

Chinstrap Penguin on nest, Aitcho Island, Antarctica

Gentoo Penguin on nest covered in snow, Aitcho Island, Antarctica

Brown Skua attacking Gentoo Penguin colony, Aitcho Island, Antarctica

Brown Skua attacking Gentoo Penguin colony, Aitcho Island, Antarctica

We trekked through deep snow to get to the top of the island, where it was really cold and windy. This was the first excursion where most people returned to the boat early. This was what apparently Antarctica land excursions are usually like, rather than the beautiful weather we had been having.

Chinstrap Penguin, Aitcho Island, Antarctica

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig near Aitcho Island, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Gentoo Penguin
Photograph taken by and copyright Jim (Zhimin) Zong’s
For copies of this and other amazing photos from this trip contact zongzm@gmail.com

We were meant to be landing at Robert Point in the afternoon, but we were not able to land before due to windy conditions. Again today it was too windy to land and so instead we pressed south. On our journey, we continued to see lots of Humpback Whales.

Final itinerary of our Antarctic Voyage
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Before we came to Antarctica, there were three birds I really wanted to see. The first was Emperor Penguin, which we had no chance of seeing, and the second was Wandering Albatross which we hoped to see if we put in the hours of sea watching and had luck on our side. The third was the enigmatic Snow Petrel, a bird you can not see outside these waters and usually next to floating ice on the water. In May, I did an interview for Springwatch and got to meet Chris Packham. As I was a world birder he asked me if I had seen lots of different birds. Snow Petrel was one that we both said that we really wanted to see. Our ship ornithologist Simon told us that Chris Packham had been on board our ship, The Vavilov, a few weeks before us and had seen a Snow Petrel. Knowing that Chris Packham has seen Snow Petrel somehow added urgency to my own search.

I can’t express how beautiful this place is. Everything is on a huge scale. The sea, the icebergs and the sunsets.

Best birds and animals of the day:

Gentoo Penguin
Chinstrap Penguin
Southern Fulmar
Brown Skua
Humpback Whale

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

Antarctica Voyage Day 7 – 25th December 2015 – Steaming Along at Sea

Antarctica Voyage Day 7 – 25th December 2015 – Steaming Along at Sea

Leith Cove, Antarctica
Photograph taken by Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

This morning I was woken up in my bivi camping at 5.30 am and was warm and cosy until I had to get up. We brought everything with us and took it all away, including waste. The first thing to do was to fill our trenches back up with snow, to make a minimum impact.

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Leith Cove, Antarctica
Photograph taken by Chris Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Leith Cove, Antarctica
Photograph taken by Chris Craig

Once back at the ship at 6.30 am, I had a hot shower to warm up. At breakfast we heard the terrible news that someone had become seriously ill, and was alive but needed immediate and urgent medical evacuation to South Shetland Island, to get a plane off back to Punta Arenas in Chile. The boat was going full steam ahead back north and was due to arrive at the Chilean research station at midnight. The plane was due in at 3 am, if they could get hold of someone at the insurers to approve it. They needed the plane to take them to Punto Arenas for urgent treatment.

Then halfway through breakfast there was an announcement that we were about to go past The Chilean research station, Gonzales Videla, at Waterboat Point again where we had seen an Emperor Penguin yesterday evening. We dashed up 3 floors and almost immediately saw the penguin, this time standing up on a low lying bit of snow. It was amazing to see it yesterday but unbelievable to see it again this morning.

Emperor Penguin, Gonzales Videla

This excitement and celebration came to an abrupt end when I heard the shocking news that the person who was ill was my friend’s dad. We had been friends since day one here and our parents were spending all their time together. I hoped we could get to the airstrip as quickly as possible so that they could get a plane. A really horrible Christmas Day for them.

As we headed back north, the amount of ice reduced, but still with large icebergs. It was another sunny, still and glorious day. Not good for finding our missing Snow Petrel. Simon, the ship’s ornithologist said that 20 years ago you would maybe have one and a half days of sunny weather, rather than every day. Clearly, this was the change in weather patterns.

So far, I would say that tourism is having a negligible impact on Antarctica. We have been leaving places as we find them and with very little impact. Against this, tourists coming to the area and seeing how stunning it is, are keeping the place alive in people’s hearts and minds. There is an association for tourist providers travelling to Antarctica, with strict rules about what can be done and how. This is so that the impact of tourism to the area can be kept minimal, though there does not really seem to be a way of dealing with ships that break their rules. It is governments and corporations that will not care about trashing Antarctica, and the only way they can be stopped is by people visiting Antarctica and telling their friends and family about what a stunning and pristine place it is is and why it needs to be protected.

During our fast journey, from the upstairs bar, we saw an amazing Humpback Whale breaching and showing its tail. We also saw many more Humpbacks from the Bridge, probably there were about 60 over the day. We also saw some beautiful icebergs and some smaller ice floaters with groups of penguins on them. No sign of any Snow Petrels though…

In the afternoon, birds were very scarce with very few birds. Then suddenly there were Southern Fulmar on the water and a single Antarctic Petrel. It flew along one side of the ship and then back along the other side. We were really lucky to see one.

Then less than 20 minutes later we saw a Soft Plumage Petrel, further south than you would expect and so really great to see.

Dad had seen a Snow Petrel yesterday morning before Mum and I were up, so we were even more desperate to see one now. Dad had seen his bird miles away, so wanted to see one again.

After dinner, we sang Christmas carols in the bar and me and a bunch of teenagers jumped into the icy plunge pool before warming ourselves up in the sauna. It is traditional for people to jump into Antarctic sea water on their first visit. The plunge pool was filled with Antarctic sea water and was the same temperature, so we could take the plunge.

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on her way out of the antarctic water

Best birds and animals of the day:
Emperor Penguin
Gentoo Penguin
South Polar Skua
Antarctic Petrel
Soft Plumaged Petrel
Fur Seal
Humpbacked Whale

About The Author

Hi, I’m Dr. Mya-Rose Craig. I am a 19-year-old prominent British-Bangladeshi ornithologist, environmentalist, diversity activist as well as an author, speaker and broadcaster. At age 11 I started the popular blog Birdgirl, and at age 17 I became the youngest person to see half of the birds in the world.

Buy My Book

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Lyrical, poignant and insightful.’ - Margaret Atwood

This is my story; a journey defined by my love for these extraordinary creatures. Because large or small, brown, patterned or jewelled, there is something about birds that makes us, even for just moments at a time, lift our eyes away from our lives and up to the skies.

Find Out More

To find out more about working with me or to buy my book, please use the links below.

Work With MeBuy Book

Antarctica Voyage Day 6 – 24th December 2015 – Graham Passage, Danco Island and Camping on Leith Cove

Antarctica Voyage Day 6 – 24th December 2015 – Graham Passage, Danco Island and Camping on Leith Cove

This morning we woke up next to huge glaciers, icebergs and ice flows. It could not have been more stunning and beautiful.

Graham Passage, Antarctica

Graham Passage, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Humpback Whale, Graham Passage, Antarctica

Humpback Whale, Graham Passage, Antarctica

Humpback Whale, Graham Passage, Antarctica

Crabeater Seal, Graham Passage, Antarctica

Crabeater Seal, Graham Passage, Antarctica

Graham Passage, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Graham Passage, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Graham Passage, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Gentoo Penguin, Graham Passage, Antarctica

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Gentoo Penguin Danco Island, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Gentoo Penguin, Danco Island Antarctica

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Chris Craig, Danco Island, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Danco Island Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

Danco Island Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

The area was full of Humpbacked Whales, which was stunning. We went out early on the Zodiacs, in amongst the ice leading to the Graham Passage. Humpbacked Whales came really close to our Zodiac missing it by metres. Our Zodiac then travelled from north to south between Bluff Island and the mainland peninsular, through Graham Passage along the shoreline, through thick surface ice, in the most dramatic scenery possible. After two hours of cruising, we returned to our ship. From here we could see that there were a number of ships in the same area. Here we were in the Gerlache Straits, the main thoroughfare through the Antarctic Islands.

After an afternoon of sea watching, looking for Snow Petrel, we returned to the Zodiacs for a land excursion to Danco Island. Here we got brilliant views of Gentoo Penguins on the beach and swimming on and off, doing that jumping out of the water thing. We also hiked in the deep snow up to a Gentoo Penguin Colony 590 ft up. It was interesting watching the penguins waddling along their “Penguin Highways”.

Gentoo Penguin walking along a “Penguin Highway” Danco Island Antarctica

Back at the ship, we were having a quick dinner, as we were going out to camp out in bivis for the night. How cool is that?

If that wasn’t enough excitement, Simon came to tell us that the birder on their sister boat, The Ushuaia, had seen a first-year Emperor Penguin two hours before and were about to pass the same spot. We all ran to the top deck, where within a few minutes another passenger spotted the Emperor Penguin lying on the snow next to a Chilean research station, Gonzales Videla, at Waterboat Point. Our views only lasted 5-10 minutes as we lost the angle into the area.

We are all ecstatic, especially Simon who had been coming here for 20 years. Emperor Penguins breed on the ice deep in the Weddell Sea and are almost mythical amongst birders as the only way to reliably see them is to fly into their breeding grounds and camp at a cost of about £30,000. Not something most birders will be afforded.

Emperor Penguin at Chilean research station, Gonzales Videla

Leith Cove

Leith Cove

Leith Cove

Leith Cove

Leith Cove

Leith Cove

Tonight was two nights after the summer solstice and sunset was at 11.55 pm and sunset was due to be at 2.20 am. We were sleeping out in bivi’s and apart from being too cold to sleep, the light was also going to keep us awake. We camped out on an icy island in the Leith Cove, just off the Antarctic Mainland Peninsular. We got to the island at about 10.30 pm, then had to dig out a hole for us to sleep inside our bivi’s so that we were protected from any wind. It was the most beautiful night and to be camping out in, made even more unbelievable by the fact that we were in Antarctica. It was about 1 am by the time I was cosy in my bivi, but I slept really well considering how cold it was. What a way to welcome Christmas morning!

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Leith Cove, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

Leith Cove, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Leith Cove, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Leith Cove, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Leith Cove, Antarctica
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig

Best birds and animals of the day:
Emperor Penguin
Gentoo Penguin
Adelie Penguin
Chinstrap Penguin
Kelp Gull
Antarctic Tern
South Polar Skua
Southern Fulmar
Cape Petrel
Wilson’s Storm-petrel
Antarctic Cormorant
Snowy Sheafbill
Crabeater Seal
Humpback Whale