Mawsonites spend time off-station with emperor penguins and in some of the lovely little shelter huts.

Penguins and huts

Under the watchful eye of experienced winterers, the summer crew at Mawson are being brought up to speed in our station operating area.

After Hägglunds re-familiarisation training, a visit to Auster emperor penguin rookery was mandatory with a pit stop at Macey hut to change out a remote field first aid kit, and have a quick cuppa and chat to the Adélies nesting nearby.

A drive on the sea ice through grounded bergs on a windless, slightly overcast day was spectacular as always. We had new caverns to marvel at, seals to admire from a safe distance and wandering Adélies to avoid. Increasing numbers of emperor penguins marked our arrival at Auster, the colony now split into several groups. We parked and approached, sitting quietly to observe the 2/3 grown chicks in creches waiting for a parent to return with food, some sleeping on their tummies with a flipper out like exhausted toddlers, others just hanging out with their mates. The colony was pretty quiet, not even much squawking as the ever-present skuas flew low over the chicks looking for a vulnerable one. It was a mild day (temperature −1°C to-3°C) and we sat for hours as inquisitive adults came close then slid by, intent on their own business.

Then there were the plateau huts requiring a familiarisation visit, so again in the company of our winterers, groups headed off to check the Rumdoodle, Fang and Henderson huts and their surrounding peaks. Another small group made their way to Colbeck to photograph the Taylor rookery and change the cards on the two long term cameras there. We took an obligatory detour to Proclamation Point, with a stroll around that very pretty little beach there before heading to the newly re-sited and magnificently refurbished Colbeck hut which is now snow and wind scour free and very comfortable.

On Saturday afternoon our station leader Steve headed home, taking with him our best wishes. We welcome Hully in the role as summer station leader.

The weekend saw many off-station in the huts behind us so it was a very quiet Sunday after Rocket went all out to provide a ‘Welcome Summerers Saturday’ feast for the station.

Lastly but certainly not least, Helen and Judy have been working diligently on their penguin research, catching up the days delayed while at Davis waiting for a window to get here. The winterers did a great job bird counting until the Beche scientists arrived, for which they are very grateful. It is blizzing at the time of writing this account and we are having a well earned day indoors.