This week saw my first official winter field trip off station. Albeit only for a few hours, it was great to get out and amongst the wilderness that is the Vestfold Hills. Also great to get away from the ever constant humming sound of the station’s generators that provide us with power and heating. On this short trip I was joined by the youngest expeditioner on station Jock. He goes by all sorts of names down here but we’ll stick with Jock for now.
Our journey took us from station on foot around Heidemann Bay and up onto the top of ‘The Lookout’, situated near the bottom of the Vestfolds. On either side is Davis station and Ellis Fjord.
The Lookout gives you a really great 360 degree view of the Vestfolds and its surroundings, including the front of the Sørsdal Glacier, which demands your full attention as it towers over the hills lined by dykes and the ever encroaching ice shelf behind it, continuing up and up above the horizon. Along with the Sørsdal and Vestfolds you also get a great view of the mighty Southern Ocean, teeming with giant icebergs on the horizon and in close.
After taking in the view for quite some time we ventured down to the ‘Old Wallow’ to see what wildlife was basking in the calm and sunny day. The seals weren’t abundant, but some of the elephant seals were of a significant size. Some of the biggest I have seen so far, they didn’t seem bothered by our presence and kept sleeping and kept making their bodily movements like usual.
The return leg was taken along the coast line of Heidemann Bay, where scattered all along were little pockets of moulting Adélie penguins. The penguins weren’t that happy to see us even from a great distance, making their usual penguin noises and looking worse for wear. They had taken the high ground to moult so walking on the water’s edge was best. With the temperature dropping lately the bay has started to freeze quite significantly. It won’t be long now until we will be out testing the ice’s thickness for travel, this I am very much looking forward to.
Shoey (Balancing Technician)