3 November 2006
Mawsonites are keenly watching the approach of the big orange taxi, with a likely sighting of the first helicopters some time over this weekend. Most last minute work jobs are completed and people are now into their packing.
Of our 14 winterers, 4 are remaining here for part or all of the summer, 3 are travelling on V1 to Davis to spend part or all of the summer there, and 7 head back to sunnier shores, eagerly looking forward to Christmas at home with families. Sara , "Pedro" and Brett are our real long stayers, Sara will finish up the summer here at Mawson and Pedro and Ruffy at Davis, all coming home on V4. They will have been away from October 2005 to March 2007, totalling 514 days. Well done.
The planned changeover and re-supply by helicopter will be a busy time for all and is likely to be challenging in all sorts of ways. At 9 am Mawson time on Thursday morning, Geoff completed our first HF sked with Ian McL on the AA, which is about 400 nautical miles away, somewhere north west of Davis, and making about 3 knots in heavy ice. It might be a case of "hurry up and wait".
Over the last week, we have fitted in a number of last trips to Auster Rookery, for those last memorable moments at an amazing place and some last photos. The emperor penguin chicks are now 3 to 3-and-a-half months old, and starting to become quite their own creatures. The Adelie penguins have returned to Bechervaise Island and most of the other coastal islands in large numbers and are building pebble nesting mounds frantically and starting to mate already.
The Weddell seal mums and pups are everywhere there is a tide crack on the sea ice, and the older pups at 2-3 weeks of age are already growing rapidly. The skuas are looking very plump on the readily available meals of seal placenta. The local sea "fast" ice is now around 180 cm thick, the thickest in the last 5 years at least, still thickening a little in most places, and still in great shape for sea ice travel. What a fantastic time of year in Antarctica!
On Saturday night, we enjoyed our last Saturday night together as a group, and conveniently celebrated Sara's birthday at the same time. It was an appropriate occasion to acknowledge and thank Sara for her many contributions to our community life during the year. As usual, Tania and kitchen helpers put on a superb dinner. Dr Jim was presented with a handsomely mounted set comprising toothbrush, dental mirror, and model tooth, as a memento of several memorable dental procedures during the year.
We followed that up with a Halloween party on Tuesday night.
This is likely to be the last news contribution from the 2006 Mawson team. On behalf of our group, I would like to wish all readers an early "Happy Festive Season", we will be seeing people at Davis in around 10 days and back at Kingston in about 3 weeks.
Regards from all at Mawson.