No ice means water brings whales around station, some plant poetry, the weekly update from Beche, and a reprise of the 2011 year at Mawson.

Killer whales in East Bay

Now that our sea ice has finally broken up here at Mawson, we have been fortunate to get wildlife coming in close to shore. Our first sighting was last Tuesday evening when a Minke whale was spotted in East Bay, then again Saturday arvo when a pod of killer whales were in Horseshoe Harbour for a duration where we believe they picked up some fresh penguin.

Monday morning then saw another pod, or the same pod from Saturday, of killer whales looking for a feed. They succeeded and Lloyd our doctor extraordinaire was there to capture the moment the pod made the strike and got a Weddell seal for their efforts.


Tim Kerr

Keep the crops alive

Keep the crops alive

As the end of the season starts to a close,
The anticipation and excitement grows,
Alas, in amongst all of this,
There are chores to be done,
T'is not all bliss!

The time had come to clean out hydro,
The old vegetation just all had to go,
New pipes to be laid for irrigation,
We needed the room,
So off it all goes for incineration!

The tubs are all clean and the pipes are new,
There are fresh crops growing but only a few,
Very soon now the next crew will arrive,
Good luck and have fun,
Most of all… keep the crops alive!

Grant Cotterill

Penguin Ponderings and Scandalous Skuas — 8th Feb

Penguin Ponderings

The Adelie chicks are growing up fast, with most now losing down at a rapid rate, showing a hint of the glistening blue tuxedo. After a blizzard last Friday and several days of high winds, the air has been thick with down. Probably not many people can say they have inhaled penguin down, those lucky few who have would join me in recommending other hobbies. The three chicks monitored here have all started to lose their down, though the chick at Nest A, who is the youngest, has only lost the down around his/her face, while the other two are starting to look half dressed.

The colony has thinned out a lot in the last week, with fewer adults around. There are still some non-breeding birds that have taken delight in the emptier colony, collecting all the stones and making the biggest nest they probably ever will. Shame they have missed the breeding season, but boy are they looking proud of themselves.

Fashion was all the talk this week at Beche, with neck accessories all the rage for the sub-adults who are part-way through moult. Perhaps it wasn’t snow causing the blizzard the other day, rather penguin feathers.

Scandalous Skuas

Ok… so we shouldn’t name wild animals, but somehow after seven weeks on the island, it seemed like a good thing to do and the skua chick I’ve been photographing each week has picked up the name Hagrid. He is starting to look more like a bird and less like a feather duster these days, however the chick squeak coming from him will still be a giveaway even when he has lost all his down. The skuas are regularly seen swooping on chicks to see if they can grab a startled one. When they do, it is hard not to be in awe of them. They are very clever birds and sometimes use team work to successfully attack a chick.

Snow Petrels

The snow petrels have been neglected in these weekly ramblings, so I thought I had better rectify that. Snow Petrels nest in rocky crevices and clefts under boulders on the islands around Mawson and also high in the mountains. Birds lay a single egg late November/early December, with chicks hatching around mid–January. Chicks are brood guarded by an adult for around eight days, before they are left alone while the parents forage. At present, the chicks are a few weeks old and look like balls of fluff; they will fledge around six to seven weeks of age. On Bechervaise Island, there are approximately three hundred breeding pairs.

Julie McInnes

That was the year that was…

Well, now that the 64th ANARE is drawing to a close it’s time to reflect on the year that we have had. There have been so many amazing events/sights/experiences that sometimes it is hard to put it into words. Like every other year, this time of our season calls for annual reports to be written, clothing to be returned, work and living areas to be tidied up and last, but not least, a yearbook compiled.

This job is a huge task as it basically involves getting reports and photos from everyone on station and compiling them into a website that will publish our book for us to keep for years to come. This year we have a lot of collages to help us get lots of peoples’ photos in and ensure that we get a good idea of the year that we had at Mawson.

If a picture is worth a thousand words then, by golly, this book must have about a billion words to say!

Here is a sample of a few of the pages from the yearbook.

Lisa O'Connor