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Author: Jane

 

Date: 16/03/11

Temperature: -25°C

Wind Speed: 15 knots

Temp with wind chill: -35°C

Sunrise: 07:08

Sunset: 20:53

 

 

We have had the rare pleasure of open water in front of the base for a few weeks now. The open water has attracted a range of wildlife that would not always be seen here. The curious emperor penguins that Sarah described, lots of little Adélies, Weddell seals and even whales. It was quite an experience to look up from the Scott Base dining room table and see a pod of Mike whales swimming past!

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Whale swimming near the pressure ridges in front of Scott Base © AHT/Jane


The temperature is beginning to drop now and we seem to be steadily hitting -20°C and lower. The sea has been freezing over nearly every day, but then it has either washed out into McMurdo Sound or melted up until now. On Monday the sea in front of the base froze over and it looks like it is going to stay frozen this time. A whale managed to pop its head up for a moment in a melt pool yesterday, but unfortunately I think this may be the last we see of them for a few more years. Three Adélies were seen running towards Cape Armitage early this morning.


The penguin exodus and the ever shortening days seem to herald the beginning of winter and the wonderful sunrises and sunsets that it brings.

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Sea ice forming in front of the summer labs © AHT/Jane

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Author: Sarah

 

Date: 28-02-2011
Temperature: -12
Wind Speed: 20 knots
Temp with wind chill: -32 degree C
Sunrise: 23:01
Sunset 05:13

 

With the open water, there comes wild life. Jana and I went for a walk earlier in the week to see some the emperor penguins gathering near the base. As we approached them they seemed to be heading back over the sea ice away from us, so we got as close as we safely could and sat down. Within a few minutes a group of about 50 emperors had surrounded us!

 

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Jana surrounded by penguins.  © AHT/ Sarah

 

I was somewhat concerned, as when kneeling I just about see these great bird eye to eye, and I had heard stories about people being flipper bashed by them. But the great bird just eyed us up and down and sang to us! What an amazing treat, Jana and I have been on a high ever since.  And yes, you are not suppose to go closer than 10 meters, but if the animals come to you it’s a different matter.

 

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Emperor Penguins close up and personal. .  © AHT/ Sarah

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Posted by Cricket

 


Ernest Shackleton’s hut from the Nimrod expedition at Cape Royds sits on the coast of Ross Island beside an Adelie penguin rookery.  In contrast to the quiet and elegant beauty of Captain R.F. Scott’s hut at Cape Evans, Royds seems more intimate and personable, partly due to it being nestled in a cove amongst rolling hills, but also because of our penguin neighbors.  I think Royds might be my favorite, and this is because we’re so close to the penguins, which we can watch across Pony Lake and hear chattering all day long as we work in and around the hut.  It’s fantastic to be so close to these funny little birds which seem to be constantly busy and fidgeting.

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Shackleton’s hut with the Adelie penguins in the background © AHT/Cricket


Last night we had a special treat.  After dinner we heard a different bird call like a low trilled honk.  It was the sound of Emperor penguins.  We spotted about a dozen coming along the coast from the north, slowing making their way south across the ice.  In contrast to the quick and sometimes random Adelies, the Emperors appear calm and methodical.  They are a stately bird.  They moved in a straight line, stopping at times for twenty to thirty minutes, before continuing on their way.  We sat on the cliff for almost two hours, eager for them to get closer and willing them to hurry.   They finally made it to the edge of the Adelie rookery where they paused for a time before carrying on.

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Emperor penguins on march © AHT/Cricket