Sea-ice season is nearly at an end... and the chicks are growing fast

The months down here at Mawson have definitely ticked along pretty fast and we see ourselves looking at yet another milestone come November, with the arrival of the first plane for the summer season in just a few weeks’ time. It just goes to show how time flies as the weather is on the improve with warmer days, more consistent calm afternoons, the days getting much longer and the return of some much-missed wildlife. It is time to make the most of the outdoors and see as much of this continent as possible before it becomes our time to leave.

Last week we made a dash out to Auster emperor penguin colony for a day trip to check out the delightfully active young chicks that are in abundance out there. Along the way we were greeted by some seals who looked to be guarding a few young pups and plenty of cheeky Adélie penguins running about, as well as some other bird life flying around.

But not everything down here is a big fan of the warmer weather, namely the sea ice. During our dash out to the colony we hit a slightly soft patch of slushy sea ice. A very nice reminder of how fast things change down here, and to think that maybe in just a month or two there will be no sea ice at all. But a quick recovery with the onboard winch had us on our way in no time.

But off the sea ice there is plenty more to see and do down here at Mawson, with plenty of amazing mountain ranges to explore on the plateau. The next few months should be just as amazing as the ones we’ve just had.

Nathan E

The boys are back in town

Much excitement this week as the date for the return of the Adélie penguins approached. We'd been assured that 18 October was the day, and so a small group of very excited expeditioners were out at Becherviase Island awaiting their return with much expectation. And return they did, right on time! How do they know which is the day to return? It's quite incredible. They must have one pretty amazing internal body clock.

And what to do on arrival? First rest up a bit after an extemely long and, I imagine, arduous trek across the sea ice to reach the small islands just offshore from Mawson - the sea ice extends to at least 38 nautical miles to the north of station, that's a long walk from open water for those little legs. And after a rest, time to get a nest building. Already the first signs of the rock fights to follow have been seen. Some nests are well advanced. Some have much work to do. These little fellas will get busy ready for the return of the females, then for some romancing, and then egg laying. What a busy schedule they have for the next month or so!

Towards the end of November we'll be busy as annointed field assistants, counting the penguins on all the local islands (getting cross eyed and overwhelmed by a sea of black and white), photography to assist with the annual census of Adélies, and resighting microchips which have been implanted during previous years when biologists have spent the summer out at Becherviase Island. We are extremely excited, and feel very priviledged, to be involved in this important field research on behalf of the project: "Ecological research and monitoring to improve management strategies and conservation outcomes for Antarctic breeding seabirds". It's fabulous to feel we're making a contribution to important Antarctic science!

We look forward to watching the Adélie's progress over the summer, much as we've loved watching the emperor penguin's over the winter.

Bec J