Seabird monitoring

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This week at Mawson: 23 December 2011

Since arriving in November, Susan and Julie have had the amazing opportunity to work with the Adelie and Emperor Penguins and Snow Petrels. The majority of our work is out at Bechervaise Island which is 2km from station, however we have also been carrying out counts of Adelie penguins at colonies near and far. These counts are carried out annually at some islands, or every 4-5 years at others, to monitor changes in population numbers in east Antarctica as part of the CCAMLR Ecosystem Monitoring Program. Another recent activity was the attachment of 15 GPS trackers to see where the penguins are foraging during the breeding season.

The Adelie penguins are all diligently incubating eggs at the moment. Although stone thievery is still rife, the colonies are much quieter than earlier in the season, with only single birds at each nest while their partner is out foraging at sea. This week also saw the first chicks start to hatch.

Out on Bechervaise Island we have just begun monitoring the snow petrel breeding success, which involves regular nest checks to see how they are all fairing. At the moment, birds have returned fat and ready to lay eggs, with most snow petrel homes now featuring the essential white goods. Snow petrels also breed in the mountains, so our petrel sniffing has made us high this week as we venture out to the peaks around Mawson.

Julie McInnes

Adelie penguin with flippers extended
One of the locals
(Photo: Julie McInnes)
Adelie penguin rookery photographed from an overlooking hill
Adelie penguin colony at Rookery Island
(Photo: Julie McInnes)
Expeditioner standing on top of island - mountain ranges on plateau in the background
Susan searching an Island in the Rookery Group for Adelie Penguins
(Photo: Julie McInnes)
The rookery nesting area after a heavy snow fall
An Adelie wondering where the snow hid all the stones
(Photo: Julie McInnes)
Expeditioner and Adelie penguins in a typical Antarctic setting
Susan and her penguins
(Photo: Julie McInnes)
Adelie penguins among the off-shore ice bergs
Birds and bergs off Rookery Island
(Photo: Julie McInnes)
Expeditioner in a tee-shirt enjoys the summer weather
T-shirt weather counting penguins
(Photo: Susan Doust)
A camera mounted on a pole provides access with minimal disturbance to the penguins
Susan carrying out Adelie census on Rookery Island using a pole camera
(Photo: Julie McInnes)
Two snow petrels in their nest in a rock crevice
Snow Petrels returned to breed
(Photo: Julie McInnes)
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