A trip around the huts, out to Magnetic Island and a birthday celebrated at Davis this week

It’s not all work

On Friday 26th August a work party – Dave (communication), Paul (trip leader & supervising mechanic), Vas (electrician), Lesley (chef), Jen (supplies) departed station with two Hägglunds and a trailer of supplies bound for Brooks, Bandits and Platcha Huts.

Our mission was to retrieve and replace fuel drums and gas bottles, telecommunication tests and repairs, conduct electrical checks and maintenance and stocktake all hut food rations and equipment for replenishment in preparation for the summer season.

With clear skies and minimal wind, yet braving −30°C temps, we pushed on to achieve what was seemingly impossible to a previous field party.

Over three days we worked tirelessly winching gas bottles to the top of the hill where Bandits hut stands, and with the help of the Hiab crane we replaced fuel drums with new bunded stores.

Dave braved the elements on top of the hut replacing the VHF antenna and with Vas and Paul assisting, installed new radio battery chargers with impressively tidy cabling.

We took a break to explore Walkabout Rocks and the icebergs through Tryne Bay before saying ‘hello’ to an emperor penguin on the way back to station.

Out to Magnetic Island

Magnetic Island is about four or five kilometres from Davis station across the sea ice. There are several Adèlie penguin colonies on the island, one of them watched over by two automatic cameras that take regular pictures of the colony all year.

Wednesday the 24th of August was a lovely sunny day so Aaron, John and Ladge hopped into a Hägg and headed out to have a look at the island, as well as swapping out the memory cards from the cameras and giving their lenses a bit of a clean.

This was also the first trip out to Magnetic Island this winter. On the way we found a great cave in an iceberg stuck in the sea ice and stopped to get lots of pictures, closer still about 30 or 40 metres there was a really cool marbled berg. This was certainly turning out to be a good day.

I had forgotten about the smell of an Adèlie colony and even though it was about −17°C it still smelt pretty bad, though nothing like the smell when the penguins are there and it’s around 0°C in the summer.

There were no penguins there as we approached the automatic cameras, well no live ones. We were walking on spongy ground composed of thousands of years of dead penguins and penguin poo, with empty eye sockets staring at us from bleached and mummified skulls. No wonder the Adèlies’ make nests of small stones when they come back to the same colony year after year nesting on the bodies of their ancestors.

After servicing the cameras and retrieving their memory cards we were quite happy to be leaving and returning to station, but not without a detour.  On approaching the island, Aaron had spotted something that looked like a seal, or was it a rock?  It was difficult to tell.  We pointed our zoom lenses at it and yes probably a rock, but it was only a few hundred meters away so we decided to go and have a look. As the Hägg drew nearer the rock moved, yes it was a seal after all. After hopping out and arming ourselves with cameras many pictures were taken, and later on station the consensus was that it was a pregnant female Weddell.


Better Late than Never

Ladge neglected to tell us up at Woop Woop that it was his birthday when we were up there camping last week.

However, on our return to station the next day Lesley produced a delicious birthday cheesecake (coffee flavoured of course) which we helped him to devour.