Well I have been thrown in the deep end a little here. I don't mind it at all when the water is this perfect though!
On Monday the opportunity arose to head out to the Auster Emperor Penguin rookery to see how the chicks were doing before the sea ice is closed for vehicle travel. Of course I jumped at the chance and was appointed driving duties in one of our Hägglunds over snow vehicles. It was quite a big party heading out for the evening with 2x Häggs and 4x Honda Quads.
The trip itself is a 120km round trip to the east of Mawson along the sea ice and past the field hut at Macey Island. The Macey hut is interesting as it looks like it is constructed from an old railway carriage and its smack in the middle of an Adelie Penguin rookery!
|Macey looking toward Auster|
We left Macey and headed out to sea to find the Empies. They have moved over a kilometer from their original winter huddle and have now broken into 3 separate groups.
At the moment the Penguins are 'Creching' which is when the chicks stick together in groups and are looked after by a few adults while most of the parents head out to sea to feed. That is why the ratio of chicks to adults look wrong at the moment.
And a nice big berg we found on the way home. The dot on the left is a quad bike about 3/4 the way between myself and the berg for scale.
The next day involved an early start in preparation of a trip to another Emperor rookery! This time to Taylor Glacier and one of the only Emperor rookeries to be found on dry land!
Taylor Glacier is to the west of Mawson and is a 220km (including sightseeing) round trip. Conveniently located close by is Proclamation Point which is the site where Sir Douglas Mawson first raised the British flag and claimed that gigantic slice of Antarctica.
|A copy of the Proclamation|
Here is a transcript of the proclamation if you cant read it from the photo:
In the name of His Majesty, King George the Fifth, King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions across the Seas, Emperor of India.
By Sir Douglas Mawson.
Whereas I have it in command from His Majesty King George the Fifth, to assert the Sovereign rights of His Majesty over British land discoveries met with in Antarctica. Now, therefore, I, Sir Douglas Mawson, do hereby proclaim and declare to all men that, from and after the date of these presents, the full sovereignty of the Territory which we have discovered and explored extending continuously from Adelie Land, westwards to MacRobertson Land being that part of the Antarctic Mainland and offlying Islands (Including amongst others, Drygalski Island, Hordern Island, David Island, Masson Island, Henderson Island, Haswell Islds and and Island in Longitude 103° 15' East shown on our charts) situate between meridia 138° and 60° East of Greenwich and south of Latitude 64° as far as the South Pole, vest in His Majesty King George the Fifth, His Heirs and Successors forever.This in particular has been a highlight for me and I feel very privileged to have step foot on such hallowed ground as this. To date there is only a couple of hundred people to ever visit this location.
Given under my hand at this spot in MacRobertson Land on the eighteenth day of February 1931.
Douglas MawsonBANZARE(British, Australian and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition)
|My name in the history books|
The view was pretty spectacular too!
|Where Mawson raised the flag!|
We stayed in Colbeck hut which has recently been renovated and relocated by the wintering team this year since it had a bad habit of getting buried under snow. The new location should stay snow-free and has a pretty amazing view.
|View from Colbeck|
As mentioned before the Taylor Emperor rookery is one of the only on dry land and is the site of Australia's first ASPA (Antarctic Specially Protected Area) which limits the impact of humans by only allowing one person at a time to enter the zone and only when in possession of a special permit. Unfortunately I wasn't the holder of that permit but we found that the Penguins had moved a large number of their chicks onto the sea ice which allowed a photo or two.
|Under the glacier|
|Waiting for their parents|
And that's about it for now, I have a feeling my next post might include mountains!!..