Last week five expeditioners went on a journey to Taylor Glacier to check on fixed cameras that are used to monitor the emperor penguins and undertake a photographic census.
Taylor Glacier is approximately 100 kilometres from station so a lot of planning went into the preparation for the trip. In addition we had to get a permit to enter the area as the rookery is in an ASPA; Antarctic Specially Protected Area. These are areas of Antarctica which have been designated under the Antarctic Treaty as protected areas, usually holding scientific value. The Taylor Rookery (ASPA 101) has the largest emperor penguin rookery on land. Usually emperor penguins raise their young on sea ice.
Antarctic Division scientists have been observing this rookery for many decades now using two fixed cameras and by performing two to three photographic censuses a year. This first census captures a head count of the males in the colony, while a second in September will provide numbers of chicks.
After receiving a special weather forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology, Chris, Tony H, Tony D, Gav and Craig headed out at 0600 for a long day of Hägglunds travel and sea ice drilling. They made remarkably good time arriving at Colbeck Hut at around 1500 in the afternoon.
The next day in overcast conditions they drove the short distance, approximately three kilometres from the hut to the colony. The sight of wild creatures, doing what they have done for centuries is amazing. With minimal human contact the emperor penguins have been coming to the same place each year to breed and raise their young. With cameras downloaded and census complete the team snuck back to the Hägglunds and headed for the hut.
The next day on the way back to station there was opportunity to call in at Proclamation Point, the landing sight of Sir Douglas Mawson in 1931. There is a visitors book and copy of the original proclamation paperwork in a small box at this point. A special moment for the group as very few people will ever be able to say they have stood on this spot, let alone take a selfie.
A successful trip and big thanks and congratulations to the team who made it happen.