Auster Rookery

Post 1: Courting Emperors
The best year of my life (so far) was spent wintering as a field assistant on an emperor penguin science project. Auster Rookery in Antarctica is 60 kms travel across the sea ice from Australia’s Mawson Station. It was a joyful privilege to experience the colony from early May, when the emperors return from open sea to begin their breeding cycle, to mid July, with the first cheeps from newly hatched chicks, through to December, when the air of the rookery is thick with fluffy down and large, gawky chicks ready to venture out to sea to take their chances.

By May, in Antarctica, the days are short. At three in the afternoon a full moon rises to bathe the ice with light. ©Robyn Mundy

By May the days are short. At three in the afternoon a full moon bathes Auster Rookery with light. ©Robyn Mundy

 

Courtship before a gilded sun turns May into a month of romance at Auster Rookery. ©Robyn Mundy

Courtship and canoodling before a gilded sun turns May into a romantic month at Auster Rookery. ©Robyn Mundy

 

Home away from home. Combining as laboratory, workshop, kitchen and refuge, this decades-old RMIT van designed for Antarctic field work is a stalwart. At Auster Rookery it is anchored to the sea ice to withstand katabatic winds. ©Robyn Mundy

Home away from home. Combined laboratory, workshop, kitchen and refuge, this RMIT van, custom designed in the 1960s for Antarctic field work, remains a treasured stalwart. At Auster Rookery the RMIT is anchored to the sea ice to withstand katabatic winds. ©Robyn Mundy