This week at Davis: 6 October 2017

This week at Davis we're enjoying the night, trips out into the field and photographing our surroundings.

Station update

This week at Davis we've been enjoying the night. With the days getting longer now, we're suddenly aware our starry skies and auroras will soon be difficult to see.

Despite having more light, the temperature however, has yet to rise. This week we had the coldest October day in 40 years (−28°C), and the air would be best described as 'crisp'. That aside, with sunnier weather we're keen to get out and enjoy the landscape. The animals have yet to arrive for the summer breeding season, but they are only a week or two away at this point. Can't wait for the penguins to return!

Moonlit snow under a starry sky with a weak aurora by the satellite dome.
Moonlit snow under a starry sky with a weak aurora by the…
(Photo: Barry Becker)
A building under a starry sky and weak aurora.
The operations building with a starry sky and weak aurora.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Buildings lit up by the moonlight with nearby blizz tails.
The sleeping and medical quarters in the moonlight.
(Photo: Barry Becker)
Blizz tail architecture as the snow shrinks away from the building, creating interested ruffled shapes.
Blizz tail architecture as the snow shrinks away from the building, creating…
(Photo: Barry Becker)

Stalking in the Vestfolds

With only a few weeks left in our winter, our time is getting less and less to get out and about and experience the majestic Vestfold Hills. Armed with a chef, two electronic engineers and two plumbers, 'VLZ Weddell' set out on Friday to find seals, heights and a bit of R&R around Platcha.

After exploring all the nooks and crannies of Long Fjord, the field party was renamed to 'VLZ No Weddell' due to the lack of Weddell seals. Even Weddell Arm provided neither Weddells nor Arms, just a disappointed Hägglunds driver and bumped and bruised passengers. At least Platcha Hut welcomed us with open arms, a calm evening and lamb wraps.

On Saturday our party of five conquered the mighty peak of Stalker Hill, the highest point of the Vestfolds, at a height of 144 metres. We were able to see our whole universe from there, surrounded by icebergs, hills and the Antarctic plateau. We made our way back down via Lake Bisernoye, and were treated to frozen ice rapids and some bubble magic in the clear lake ice. No Weddell seals were found here either.

We woke to a cold and windy Sunday morning, with blowing snow from the plateau, reminding us Vestfolders of the great Antarctic beyond that encroaches our brown oasis. Apparently this was also one of the coldest days ever experienced in October, clocking −28.8°C. After making a detour to Bandit's Hut, we were treated with a lone emperor penguin inspecting the traffic in Tryne Fjord.

A quick hike to Lichen Lake revealed very few lichens, and a mummified seal in Lichen Valley cheered at least one person up. 'VLZ Dead Weddell' departed for station and lo and behold, after three days two live Weddells were spotted hiding behind Zvuchnyy Island. 

VLZ Weddell out.

Daleen (Technical Officer – Engineer)

View of a frozen lake covered with some snow. The hills are in the background.
Frozen lake next to Stalker Hill.
(Photo: Lotter Kock)
Daleen, Kerryn and Fitzy at the top of Stalker Hill with stunning views of the snow covered hills and frozen lakes all around them.
Three stalkers on a hill: Daleen, Kerryn and Fitzy.
(Photo: Daleen Koch)
An emperor penguin posing for the camera.
Inspector penguin.
(Photo: Daleen Koch)
A beautiful frozen lake, with hills in the background.
Lichen Lake.
(Photo: Daleen Koch)
A mummified seal in Lichen Valley.
Mummified seal in Lichen Valley.
(Photo: Daleen Koch)
Two Weddell seals are resting on the sea-ice.
Living Weddell seals.
(Photo: Daleen Koch)

'Ol Faithful

As ​creatures of habit we all have that gadget or thing we get attached to. It may be a coffee cup, spanner or fluffy object that hangs off your rear view mirror. One of mine is my camera, a Canon G16. After doing a bit of travelling I walked into a camera shop on my birthday some time ago and came out with my first decent camera. It has since bounced around with me to all the places I've been. Somehow the screen got a crack in it, possibly from that time driving in the dunes with a mate at Lancelin, Western Australia (WA). The lens has a terrible scratch in it from a grain of sand getting stuck in the mechanism while on the beach at Cape Arid, WA. Lastly all the buttons except the shutter and the photo playback decided to stop working; that was after a particularly wet fishing trip in the Kimberley, WA.

After that it became increasingly difficult to take a decent shot. When I got to Hobart I splashed out and bought myself a new one. I had heard cameras and the cold aren't a good mix, so decided to take Ol' Faithful with me as well. Amazingly while standing atop the fuel farm for four hours over resupply, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the cold and low humidity had dried my camera out enough for buttons to start working again. Ol' Faithful was back in full swing and so for my entire winter it has lived in a case on my hip. Be it bouncing around on quads, squashed in a Hägg or warming up in a field hut on the weekend.

I gave up on my DSLR over summer and have since taken to shooting auroras with the G16. After some guidance from the experts, I managed to get a decent aurora shot at Bandits a few weekends ago. Propped on a rock with a two second delay to allow time to stop the wobble, Ol' Faithful proved that best camera you can have is not the shiniest one in the shop but the one in your hand (or rock in this case).

Jock (Mechanic)

A photo of Jock's Canon G16 camera, which came back to life on station after years of harsh treatment.
'Ol Faithful', Jock's favourite camera which came back to life at Davis.
(Photo: Jock Hamilton)
A summer sunset with a Hägg out on the sea ice and birds flying overhead.
A summer sunset out on the sea ice.
(Photo: Jock Hamilton)
Green and magenta auroras recently seen at Bandit's hut.
Amazing auroras seen at Bandit's Hut recently.
(Photo: Jock Hamilton)
Magenta and green auroras seen at Bandit's Hut recently.
Magenta and green auroras at Bandit's Hut.
(Photo: Jock Hamilton)