Near Casey this week: a bit of excitement on the ice plateau does not ruffle feathers on the islands plus a new generation of snow petrels make an appearance

A new generation and snow petrel snow angels

On our frequent visits to Reeve Hill we can now hear the high pitched calls of a new generation of snow petrels calling for more food from their parents as the following images show.

Earlier in the season we spotted these strange markings in the snowy slopes near their nesting area on Reeves Hill. On consulting an Antarctic snow petrel expert we were told that they do strange things at times and unless you catch them in the act then its hard to say what these marks are. We think they were making snow angels just for the fun of it. 

An Icy Air Drop

This January saw yet another first for the Australian Antarctic Program, utilising low cost and recyclable parachutes, alongside precision delivery systems, we successfully carried out an aerial resupply. This assists in building capability to undertake such an operation in the deep field where landing an aircraft would simply not be feasible.

Up until 20 minutes prior to the aircraft being overhead, the crew on-board were unaware of the exact location of the first drop (2 bundles with low velocity parachutes). The Casey station ground team radioed through the coordinates and watched on with eager anticipation as the bundles launched into the air from the back of the aircraft landing right by the intended target!

The aircraft circled like a one-eyed skua (in one observers opinion) and approached once again to make the second drop, right on target! The aircraft continued to circle and climb, higher and higher, soaring like a giant petrel. This time deploying the GPS guided system which steers the parachute towards a predetermined point of impact, the bundle seemingly floated before correcting its path a number of times and descending onto the target, “wow that’s really going to land close” said Nathan Bourke. “My goodness, right on target,” gasped Eddy Gault. 

Nick Watt, Operations Coordinator

A bird overhead goes unnoticed

Not all the action for the C17 airdrop was happening in the skies!

We were tasked with observing the nearby Adélie penguin rookeries for any disturbance caused by the plane.

We headed out in the boats to drop the first group off to monitor the penguins on the ground at Shirley Island, while we boated off to Whitney Point to watch the penguins in the ASPA (Antarctic Specially Protected Area) there from the sea.

The chicks have grown into much bigger balls of fluff over the summer, and the adults seemed more curious as to what we were doing than what was going on in the sky.

The sky was so clear we could see the airdrop of the C17 from over 10km away.

Motor off, drifting, icebergs on one side of the boat, frolicking penguins on the other.

Just another Monday!

Natasha Behrendorff, Medical Officer