This week at Davis we came to the end of our season and commenced resupply.
In the last week there have been a lot of final visits to the local penguin colony on Gardner Island as we say farewell. This was especially the case after a rare leukistic Adélie was spotted recently.
Leucism in birds is a genetic mutation where they lack some pigmentation, particularly in dark feathers, so feathers that should be brown or black are pale or white. This is unlike albinoism, which is where the animal lacks all pigmentation so the eye and skin colour is also affected. Our local leucistic penguin is creamy coloured with some brown patches around its face. It doesn’t appear to have paired up with a mate this season, but they have been known to breed successfully at other sites, so there is hope yet.
Recently we also successfully conducted a low light recce flight to Mount Brown in preparation of a project commencing this summer. This involved Heidi, our Field Training Officer on loan from Mawson, and Kerryn (who won the lottery on station to be the photographer on the trip), going for a scenic flight out to the Western Ice Shelf. Aside from the nauseating spirals conducted during the search for crevasses, they thoroughly enjoyed seeing views of the plateau ice out to the horizon.
Then on late Monday night, the Aurora Australis appeared offshore, breaking in through the fast ice. By morning the ship had worked her way to the anchorage point where she is now parked for the duration of resupply. Yesterday we flew our priority people ashore by helicopter — those who have key roles during resupply, eg. station management, chefs, comms operators, field training officers, aircraft ground support, plant operators, forecasters and some trades personnel. We also groomed the lay down area in front of the ship and commenced cargo operations.
A good weather window also meant we were able to fly the Mawson summerers over to Mawson, which was a massive achievement.
Today cargo operations will cease temporarily as we switch over to refuelling and taking on water. Things are going well and the incoming and outgoing winterers have commenced their handovers. We also hope to start flying our CHINARE guests and their cargo over to the Chinese station, Zhong Shan, in the Larsemann Hills today. So a lot is happening! It’s exciting but it is also becoming a firm realisation that it’s not long now and we’ll be leaving.
Kirsten (Station Leader)