After days of waiting for some warmer weather (in the −20’s rather than −30’s) the day arrived when Ladge and I could get out to Hawker Island, which is located seven kilometres southwest from Davis station off the Vestfold Hills on the Ingrid Christensen Coast, Princess Elizabeth Land, east Antarctica.
The island was designated as Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) number 167, following a proposal by Australia, primarily to protect the southernmost breeding colony of southern giant petrels. The area is one of only four known breeding locations for southern giant petrels on the coast of east Antarctica, all of which have been designated as ASPAs.
Ladge is the engineer here at Davis and has numerous roles — one of which is to collect data and ensure that the three cameras on the island are operational.
These ASPAs require special permits to allow us to visit as well as certain conditions that need to be observed, such as distances around the birds so as not cause any disruptions to the colony. On an absolutely beautiful sunshiny day we were lucky to see around thirty giant petrels hanging out together.
So while Ladge performed his duties I was lucky enough to take in some rays and capture some of the funny antics that these birds get up to. They seem to extend their wings to maximum capacity just to walk around and at a guess that would be more than a metre or so wingspan — magnificent!