Making the most of the long daylight hours

Darkness has left us!

Things ain’t what they used to be.

Tuesday was our last sunset for six weeks. No more twilight, or auroras dancing overhead. Summer is officially here, and we hit positive temperatures for the first time since we arrived at Mawson. The days of sea ice travel are numbered!

So last weekend we took the opportunity to get our four new arrivals to Auster Rookery. A thoroughly entertaining few hours with the emps and their chicks (and one rather lost and confused looking Adélie who’d gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd). Some of the chicks were beginning to fledge to adult plumage. We first saw the colony in June when the sun was barely above the horizon, and the males were carefully balancing precious eggs on their feet. What a privilege to witness their journey.

Quad bike training was another good reason to be out on the sea ice; necessary preparation to be able to support the seabird science project in coming weeks. We skirted dark and rotten ice between islands and drilled often. Floaties were not required.

This week we also squeezed in one last trip 100km west to the Taylor Antarctic Specially Protected Area to complete the third and final photo census of the emperor penguin colony. Thin ice and wet cracks were avoided, sunscreen was applied liberally, cheese was eaten and much fun was had by all.

Bring on the rest of summer!

Mark (SFTO)