Heidi, Doug, Mal, Alex and Leon had been keeping a keen eye on the weather forecasting charts, looking for any opportunity to go penguin hunting. We were in search for the Auster emperor penguin colony.
We set out with high spirits and a sense of excitement, quietly confident that the penguins were there and waiting to be found. On the afternoon of arriving at Macey Hut, we had time to check out the amazing greens of a nearby jade berg. This was the first one of these I had seen and I was blown away by how dark but clear the iceberg was.
Day two and the hunt was on. Breakfast and morning coffees taken as quickly as possible, the Häggs prepped for a long day ahead and the expeditioners sensing that today would be the day. We would finally find the Auster colony for 2017.
We had completed a quick reconnaissance the previous evening and found penguin tracks pointing in all sorts of directions, so we knew that they were around. We carefully pottered around the field of towering icebergs, the sort that look to have been stretched and torn through parts. Alex thought the bergs looked as stringy as pulled pork.
After spending most of the day following penguin tracks, we finally found three emperors wandering around in the early afternoon. Naturally, we stopped to ask them for directions; however their singing replies couldn’t be deciphered.
Heidi thought that the best place to go was around the back of the iceberg field. As the sky changed to grapefruit pink, the excited radio call came from Heidi ‘We’ve found them! We’ve found them!' We parked up the Häggs with plenty of distance to the main colony and the emperors sent a greeting party to us to welcome us to their home. There were penguins on eggs, penguins looking at us while we looked at them and the faint high-pitched chirp of little chicks, all set against the frozen seascape.
We were also treated to two beautifully clear nights, with stars all the way to the horizon and the dancing green lights of the aurora australis.
I can’t wait to go back and check on the progress of the little ones.