Some Work and Some Play at Davis this week including a myriad of bird sightings.

A myriad of birds on a calm Antarctic evening

One of the highlights for the Davis folk is the pleasure of going boating on a calm afternoon to check out the nearby icebergs. But for me, the best thing about the trip was the feathered folk of Antarctica going about their daily lives. First we came across two giant petrels and several Wilson storm petrels in a feeding frenzy — but in harmony. Wilson storm petrels are a difficult bird to photograph but we were lucky enough to see them hovering with the illusion of walking on water. Then one of the giant petrels sluggishly ran across the water to become air borne and then fly around us. We also marvelled at the athletic prowess of the ice mountaineering adelie penguins perched high on huge icebergs — including a magnificent marine evolved jade coloured iceberg. These little penguins would have scored the perfect ten at any Olympic games with their incredible diving performance from height. Numerous ice flows meandered aimlessly in the ocean currents and subtle breeze with clever hitchhiking adelie’s catching the last rays of sunshine and preening coats prior to their porpoise imitation swim back to the island rookery retreat. Not to be out done an Antarctic fulmar glided by the IRB’s as the generous boating crew with hand on the tiller headed to Davis with ecstatic passengers and thousands of digital images. What a pleasure — and the icebergs were fantastic too.

No need for a gym

This season a lucky few were handpicked for a difficult assignment, not the usual “Your mission should you choose to accept it…“. It was more like, I have a nice little job for you boys to do, in which you won’t have to or be able to go to the gym because you will be so tired, cold and wet that as soon as you finish work, you will be wanting to go to bed, now get up to the fuel farm. We were then informed that the job was to remove the old deteriorating paint from the fuel tanks that measure 10m long by 3.5m in diameter. The method of removing the paint would be a giant water blaster that is capable of shooting a jet of water at 40 000 psi. There are two main tools used with this unit as well as a suction machine.”,“sans-serif”;”>

The first is the SRT which is like a two handed car buffer with a suction hose attached to with draw all of the paint flakes as well as most of the water into the suction machines’ holding tank. It also helps you to keep the SRT firmly against the surface of the tank, so you don’t get thrown around like a rag doll as you try to hold onto it. The other tool is the lance which looks like a giant riffle that looks and feels like it was made for someone twice your size. We use both of these tools with the water pressure turned up to between 30 000 and 36 000 psi and both have the potential to throw you around as if you were holding on to a wild animal that is trying to break free of your grasp. Because water and paint (meaning the new paint that is to seal the tanks after they have been stripped) are involved there is a narrow weather window in which the work can be performed. When it gets to cold the paint freezes and won’t dry as well as the water within the machines, hoses and the water spray over the tanks, not to mention the freezing of your water soaked gloves and clothing. We managed to reach our targeted amount of tanks and then proceed to work on the next couple until the weather window closed and the job was finished up for the season. Now we all have arms like Popeye. ”,“sans-serif”;”>

Finishing touches to wharf

Coming soon! 

Rookery and Ace Lake

Coming soon!