With the ship nearly here to take us home, we visit Gardners Island, the Vestfold hills and Blondie, the white Adélie penguin. A fond farewell from the Davis 65th ANARE.

For some to live

It is always sad when you see one of the animals that share this place with you die. But as with most deaths it means life for something else.

Before the sea ice stopped travel we noticed a juvenille Weddell seal had died on the station side of Gardner Island. We also noticed a southern giant petrel feeding on the body. Although giant petrels breed near Davis on Hawker Island, we rarely see them in close quarters and never on the ground so this was an amazing opportunity to witness one of these huge primeval-looking birds feed.

After the giant petrel had eaten its fill, it was the skuas’ turn with several of them vying for tasty morsels. There is a definite heirachy in the southern ocean and it is survival of the fittest still for most. 

The last jolly

Before the ship’s arrival, a group of five went on a jolly around the northern Vestfold Hills. They dragged Brigid kicking and screaming from her beloved kitchen and forced her to enjoy herself over five glorious days. The group also checked the skiway on the way out to ensure the planned landings by the Basler and Twin Otter planes would be ok.

Huts, pups, penguins (the new generation) and even rocks were on the programme. A good time was had by all.

Farewell from the 65th ANARE at Davis

This will be the last ‘This week at Davis’ put in by the 65th ANARE and we would like to say a fond farewell and thanks for all the support from friends and family. See you soon!

More on Blondie

The little blonde Adélie penguin out on Gardner Island is still awaiting a mate. He sits on his immaculate nest day after day ever hopeful.

Leucistic or isabelline penguins, i.e. penguins with little (diluted) to no pigmentation (melanin) in their feathers respectively are not albinos, which have no melanin at all throughout their bodies. Birds with this genetic characteristic are found more commonly within social, communal breeding bird colonies and the occurrence rate among Adelie penguins is calculated as 1:114,000.

Historically Adélie penguins of this kind have been recorded in the Vestfold Hills. An albino (not sure how loosely this term may have been used) was first noted on Long Peninsula in 1969 and thus the colony is named Albino Rookery.

As stated by Nick a few weeks back, this bird dubbed ‘Blondie' has returned to the same rock on Gardner Island for the past three summer seasons at least. Let’s hope that this is the year his luck changes and there will be an egg and a chick to follow for all his efforts.