January 9, 1912: Skua gulls greet Amundsen on the Barrier

–from Amundsen’s account, “To the South Pole”–

“That evening the weather improved, fortunately, and became comparatively clear by the time we resumed our journey at 10 p.m.  Not long after we sighted one of our beacons.  It lay to the west, about 200 yards away.  We were thus not far out of our course; we turned aside and went up to it, as it was interesting to see whether our reckoning was in order. . . .

“As we were leaving this old friend and setting our course as it advised, to our unspeakable astonishment two great birds–skua gulls–suddenly came flying straight towards us.  They circled round us once or twice and then settled on the  beacon.  Can anyone who reads these lines form an idea of the effect this had upon us?  It is hardly likely.  They brought us a message from the living world into this realm of death–a message of all that was dear to us.”

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