A webcam review of the year, an end of season dinner and a bit more about the penguins…

The changing face of Mawson Station

High on one of our communication towers overlooking the station lives our webcam. It has primarily been installed as an operational device to assist us in our work, but sometimes it may be directed towards a particular location, such as a station building, or towards operational activities such as construction work or shipping operations. Although for the majority of the time, it simply records pictures of the weather, which are published on our web page for general interest.

The following video is a collection of 72 images chosen to represent the extremes of weather that we’ve experienced here at Mawson over the past 12 months.

Chris Wilson

End-of-season dinner

On Saturday night the new, expanded Mawson station population celebrated the rapidly-closing summer season with another of Chef Scott’s outstanding multi-course meals. On this occasion it was an eight course masterpiece of gastronomic delights. For the group of expeditioners transiting through Mawson from Davis to go home on V4 this was a chance to experience a sample of one of the great highlights of our year here.

Preparing a menu of eight courses is no trivial task and Scott had plenty of helpers in the kitchen during the preceding days and Saturday afternoon. Many thanks go to Rodney, Clint, Rolf, Cotty, and Josh for their assistance. Josh has only recently arrived at Mawson after spending a large part of the summer in the Prince Charles Mountains and seems to have enjoyed having a real kitchen to work in after several weeks of cooking in a tent with a ‘choofer’ stove.

For those regular readers of our Icy News, an obvious sign of the recently expanded population is the need to have split the mess into two tables to be able to seat everyone. In a few days the Aurora Australis will be tied up in Horseshoe Harbour (we have managed to get all the ice out of the way this year), and the 2011 group will be busy assisting with getting the resupply done so we can all head home.

As this is the last Icy News prepared by the 2011 group, to all our regular readers, thanks for taking the time to follow our adventures throughout the past twelve months. We hope you have enjoyed the stories as much as we have enjoyed the fantastic experiences that lay behind them.

Ian Phillips

Penguin Ponderings… and some whales

Well, even though we are off Beche now, it appears penguins are still in hot demand… so here is some more news and pics. A small team of us headed out to some of the neighbouring islands by zodiac this week to service five Automated Penguin Nest Cameras and retrieve the images they had collected over the season. These cameras are set up at a number of locations near Mawson, Davis, Casey and now Commonwealth Bay to allow remote monitoring of penguin breeding success and nest occupancy, without having to be there constantly, and even better, with no disturbance to the birds. The Big Brother of the penguin world.

The chicks in the colonies are well developed now, with some already headed out into the big blue. There are lots of moulting birds all over the islands, as well as quite a number around station. At Peterson Island, Susan’s keen eye spotted an immature macaroni penguin, trying to fit in amongst the locals. This species is the most numerous of the penguins; however with population declines seen around the world, they are listed as vulnerable. The closest breeding colony to Mawson would be on Australia’s Heard Island.

On our way back to station, we were all treated to a special show as two minke whales cruised by. A great way to finish our last day of field work and a great treat for the boating team, who sat patiently in −7 degree weather while we completed our work (thankfully the sun was shining and the wind was non-existent).

Julie McInnes