Penguin day trip

We had an impromptu bank holiday on Mon and with the weather forecast to be calm and sunny I got together with our field GA and organised a day trip to the penguins. Half of the base piled in to the snocat and set off to Windy Bay with sleep in our eyes. Once there we unpacked and abseiled down to the sea ice with a small audience waiting for us at the bottom. Although not as cold as last time even a slight breeze has a good bite to it, especially now that we’re no longer wearing full down and facemasks, but it was a glorious sunny day and the locals were milling about happily. We all brought our GoPro cameras trying to get some close up footage, but we only managed to film a few beaks pecking at them. Since they didn’t breed this season many couples were eagerly eyeing up chunks of ice to incubate and several were walking about as if balancing an egg on their feet, although it was probably just more ice.

The colony was much as we had left it two months ago. This time we did find three dead penguins just below the cliffs presumably killed by the falling ice chunks. Also the ramp at the far end seemed much more accessible. The penguins clearly thought this too and there were tracks all the way up it with two individuals halfway up a steep section engaged in what seemed to be an argument.

Further out the sea ice had reformed and a rugged landscape of ice blocks spanned as far as the eye can see with no open water in sight. We walked as far as we were happy with the ice thickness all the while being followed by our curious entourage.

After being serenaded by our feathery friends we headed back up the ice and to the Windy caboose.Being the end of the winter season we had to dig the caboose out and pull it back to base. We enjoyed a gentle ride back in the sun to join the BBQ back on station complete with frozen lettuce, charred steaks (Hoops likes his meat well done and someone had left him in charge of grilling …) and the newly adapted trike now with skis instead of the deadly wheels making only slightly less deadly.

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