The world's most southerly song bird, the South Georgia Pipit, is fighting back from extinction thanks to work carried out by an 18-strong international team to eradicate rats from its island home in Antarctica.
Just as the final phase of the world’s largest rodent eradication project was being undertaken by UK charity, the South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT), news came that a nest of five South Georgia Pipit chicks had been found in an area previously overrun by rats.
The South Georgia Pipit is only found on South Georgia and its numbers had been decimated by the invasive rat populations on the island. Its survival as a species was under threat before the eradication work began.
The discovery of the pipit nest was made at Schlieper Bay near the western end of the island by a former member of the rat eradication team, Sally Poncet, an expert on South Georgia’s wildlife and this year a recipient of the Polar Medal in recognition of service to the United Kingdom in the field of polar research.
Poncet was a member of what has been nicknamed Team Rat during its Phase 1 operations. She discovered the nest while on a Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris expedition (in collaboration with the Government of South Georgia) to survey Wandering Albatrosses.