The region around Mawson Station has changed significantly since the Winter Crew arrived here in March of this year. One of the most obvious differences is the almost constant daylight we now experience. The twilight period between around 10pm and 2am often brings beautiful orange skies over the back of the station towards the plateau and equally impressive pink and blue skies over the sea ice. Also, in the sky are many more cumulus clouds which are reminiscent, to me at least, of clouds at home. The warmth of the sun is melting the ice and there is now regular relief from the strong winds. Gloves can be removed outside without rapidly developing painful fingers and the threat of said gloves being blown away to Bechervaise Island!
On Bechervaise Island, as at Macey, the Adèlie penguins have returned in their thousands and occasionally one or two wander over to the station for a visit. Hours can be spent watching them as they meticulously select that perfect pebble to add to their nest (providing an ideal opportunity for their neighbour to then steal a pebble from their unattended nest and in turn for another bird to steal one from the thief’s nest). Eggs are starting to appear and the ever present skuas are increasing their overhead surveillance, much to the dismay of the vigilant Adèlies. Meanwhile, over at Auster Rookery the emperor penguin chicks are growing larger and stronger every day. There are now also plentiful Weddell seals and their pups to be seen along the coast en route to Auster.
Aside from the countless snow petrels overhead at Mawson station, a rare sight in the skies here is: The Basler. A recent sighting of The Basler at Mawson coincided with the appearance of two AGSOs (Jenn and Lance) and I am pleased to say they are a much welcome breath of fresh air to Mawson station, even when one of them accidentally sits in a certain someone’s chair!
Alas, I now eagerly turn my attention to the Mawson sky in anticipation of spotting a ‘Twatter'. As I learn once more that it is not going happen today, I look around at all the marvels surrounding me, shrug my shoulders and resign myself to one more day in The Hotel California…