This week Davis bade a sad farewell to two winterers and two planes, continued repairing and making skiways, witnessed a superb mirage and went Weddell pup crazy!

Fata Morgana in the Rauers

While in the Rauer Island group on Filla Island, Tom and Ali witnessed a Fata Morgana, a mirage sometimes seen at high latitudes.

A Fata Morgana is an unusual form of superior mirage that is seen as a narrow band(s) above the horizon. It distorts the object or objects on which it is based, often making them unrecognisable and often changes rapidly. This type of mirage can comprise many stacked layers and alternating compressed and stretched zones.

The mirage occurs as rays of light pass through air layers of different temperatures in a steep thermal inversion where an atmospheric duct has formed (this is where a layer of warm air rests on colder dense air forming a refracting lens). 

Weddells everywhere

The Weddell seals are finally pupping. In the Rauer Islands and around favourite places in the Vestfolds Hills (Tryne Fjord near Bandits and in the Brookes hut-Plough Island area) there are high numbers of large healthy Weddell seals either heavy with pup, or nursing furry bundles. They quickly go from empty fur covered bags to plump fat pups as they feed on the lipid-rich milk their mothers produce.

This week we are also starting to see groups of male seals sun-basking around widened tide cracks, waiting for their opportunity no doubt. 

Some of the seals spotted are sporting tags indicating previous interaction with humans. We note the numbers where possible and send this information to the seal scientists back in Australia to find out where and when they were tagged. 

Joe’s last hurrah at the Sørsdal

When Joe found out he was to leave Davis early, a list of ‘Things He Hasn’t Done But Wished He Had’ was made up. Not all of it was fulfilled.

However, one that was easily addressed was a trip to the Sørsdal Glacier via Kazak Island. So, on a nice evening after dinner, a group of six decided to venture out to that part of the world. Firstly, a brief stop at Kazak Island for Adam to download data from the AWS, and for the rest of us to fraternise (at a distance) with the Adelie penguins.

Once completed, we jumped back into our Haggs and made our way over to the Sørsdal. Much of the snow cover on the sea ice has disappeared with the warming temperatures, and the absence of snow revealed a clear distinction between old sea ice and new sea ice. This temporarily caused a bit of alarm, but after some drilling and confirmation that the new sea ice was still greater than 1m, we continued happily on towards the glacier.

Once Joe had had his fill of the Sørsdal, we drove on to the Matterhorn, played with some ice crystals we found forming beneath ice and snow that had melted and refrozen. Finally, we drove back to Davis under the cover of a blazing sunset. What a way to spend your last night at Davis, Joe!

Farewell Cathie and Joe

Sadly this week two of our number, Joe and Cathie, departed with the Basler. They went via Casey to McMurdo then out on the A319 to Melbourne. Hard to believe they are already back with their families. We miss you!

Twin Otter arrives

The Twin Otter KBC landed at Davis on Monday, 29 October 2012, just as they said they would bringing in two familiar faces, Bob Heath and Perry Anderson, and a new one, Richard ‘Scruffy’ Cameron, a first timer to our neck of the ‘woods'.

They will be part of the summer aviation team providing operational and science support for the Australian Antarctic Division stations.

I foresee a lot of darts games played over summer accompanied by Perry’s infamous victory whoops (if and when he wins/scores well) in the future.

(It’s a long winter and we have been practising!)

Day tripping

Jan, Mark Baker and Chris Hill went for a quad ride towards Brookes Hut and Weddell Arm to spot for some seals.
Most seals had pups. HOORAY!
Jan claims she saw a seal in labour and that it looked like it was having contractions, but no birth was witnessed so we
will never know.