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Scott's Last Expedition

Friday, January 6th 1911

We got to work at 6 again this morning. Wilson, Atkinson, Cherry-Garrard, and I took each a pony, returned to the ship, and brought a load ashore; we then changed ponies and repeated the process. We each took three ponies in the morning, and I took one in the afternoon.

Bruce, after relief by Rennick, took one in the morning and one in the afternoon – of the remaining five Oates deemed two unfit for work and three requiring some breaking in before getting to serious business.

I was astonished at the strength of the beasts I handled; three out of the four pulled hard the whole time and gave me much exercise. I brought back loads of 700 lbs. and on one occasion over 1000 lbs.

With ponies, motor sledges, dogs, and men parties we have done an excellent day of transporting–another such day should practically finish all the stores and leave only fuel and fodder (60 tons) to complete our landing. So far it has been remarkably expeditious.

The motor sledges are working well, but not very well; the small difficulties will be got over, but I rather fear they will never draw the loads we expect of them. Still they promise to be a help, and they are lively and attractive features of our present scene as they drone along over the floe. At a little distance, without silencers, they sound exactly like threshing machines.

The dogs are getting better, but they only take very light loads still and get back from each journey pretty dead beat. In their present state they don’t inspire confidence, but the hot weather is much against them.

The men parties have done splendidly. Campbell and his Eastern Party made eight journeys in the day, a distance over 24 miles. Everyone declares that the ski sticks greatly help pulling; it is surprising that we never thought of using them before.

Atkinson is very bad with snow blindness to-night; also Bruce. Others have a touch of the same disease. It’s well for people to get experience of the necessity of safeguarding their eyes.

The only thing which troubles me at present is the wear on our sledges owing to the hard ice. No great harm has been done so far, thanks to the excellent wood of which the runners are made, but we can’t afford to have them worn. Wilson carried out a suggestion of his own to-night by covering the runners of a 9-ft. sledge with strips from the skin of a seal which he killed and flensed for the purpose. I shouldn’t wonder if this acted well, and if it does we will cover more sledges in a similar manner. We shall also try Day’s new under-runners to-morrow. After 48 hours of brilliant sunshine we have a haze over the sky.

List of sledges:
12 ft. 11 in use 14 spare 10 ft. 10 not now used 9 ft. 10 in use

To-day I walked over our peninsula to see what the southern side was like. Hundreds of skuas were nesting and attacked in the usual manner as I passed. They fly round shrieking wildly until they have gained some altitude. They then swoop down with great impetus directly at one’s head, lifting again when within a foot of it. The bolder ones actually beat on one’s head with their wings as they pass. At first it is alarming, but experience shows that they never strike except with their wings. A skua is nesting on a rock between the ponies and the dogs. People pass every few minutes within a pace or two, yet the old bird has not deserted its chick. In fact, it seems gradually to be getting confidence, for it no longer attempts to swoop at the intruder. To-day Ponting went within a few feet, and by dint of patience managed to get some wonderful cinematograph pictures of its movements in feeding and tending its chick, as well as some photographs of these events at critical times.

The main channel for thaw water at Cape Evans is now quite a rushing stream.

Evans, Pennell, and Rennick have got sight for meridian distance; we ought to get a good longitude fix.

A skua gull. Jan. 6th 1911.
“A skua gull. Jan. 6th 1911.”

Skua gulls, male and female. Jan. 6th 1911.
“Skua gulls, male and female. Jan. 6th 1911.”

Skua gull’s eggs in nest. Jan. 6th 1911.
“Skua gull’s eggs in nest. Jan. 6th 1911.”

Skua chick and eggs found in same nest. Chick about 1 week. Jan. 6th 1911.
“Skua chick and eggs found in same nest. Chick about 1 week. Jan. 6th 1911.”

Skua chick and eggs found in same nest. Chick about 1 week. (with rule for comaprison) Jan. 6th 1911.
“Skua chick and eggs found in same nest. Chick about 1 week. (with rule for comaprison) Jan. 6th 1911.”

Skua and chick, few days old. Jan. 6th 1911.
“Skua and chick, few days old. Jan. 6th 1911.”

Skua and chick, few days old. Jan. 6th 1911.
“Skua and chick, few days old. Jan. 6th 1911.”

Skua gull and chick. Jan. 6th 1911.
“Skua gull and chick. Jan. 6th 1911.”

Skua gull and chick. Jan. 6th 1911.
“Skua gull and chick. Jan. 6th 1911.”

Skua chick about 1 week old. Jan. 6th 1911.
“Skua chick about 1 week old. Jan. 6th 1911.”

Skua gull bringing food to chick. Jan. 6th 1911.
“Skua gull bringing food to chick. Jan. 6th 1911.”

Skua gull feeding chick, disgorging. Jan. 6th 1911.
“Skua gull feeding chick, disgorging. Jan. 6th 1911.”

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