Caught up in the snow

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This week at Macquarie Island: 20 September 2013
The MIPEP (Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Program) crew were out in force once again in September, spread out between the huts and preparing for a full month in the field.

The rodent team has moved their focus onto the plateau, having completed work on the coast in August. They have started placing even more monitoring gear out, targeting the wide open spaces of the plateau over the coming months.

There were some stunning days during the first week out in the field, with spring becoming more obvious as the days get longer, brighter, and noisier. The change of season became even more apparent when the first seal pups were being born on the beaches as female Elephant seals started to come ashore and the ‘big blokes’ that harass them moved to firm up their position in the hierarchy.

This oasis wasn’t destined to last. On the 12th of September, in typical Macquarie Island fashion, an impressive snow storm swept over the island, halting work everywhere for a three-day period, rendering hunters hut-bound.

The snow fell deep and covered the island thoroughly, transiting or hunting was out of the question. Even keeping the dog kennels visible was a consuming task.

What takes place in field huts around the island in times like these can be interesting... for a certain amount of time before the novelty wore off. At the Bauer Bay house-hold, most of the time was spent cooking food, playing darts, walking and training dogs, beach-trips with the spade, reading and more cooking. Towards the end of the week there was also a ‘’salon’’ moment when everyone endured rather shocking hair styles given to them by the other two hut-mates.

It was of course a relief when Saturday came and we were able to move out again.

The snow was very deep and took it’s time to melt. Some large drifts were encountered on the plateau. The water back at station had frozen in the pipes making life back there a little difficult also.

One more month to go before the L'Astrolabe arrives, so we’re all busy getting things organised for that as well and for the arrival of our new team mates.

A wide panorama view of the snow covered plateau with Cody and Bail (terriers) standing in the snow on a slope with a hill behind them
Somewhere on the plateau, with Cody and Bail
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Blue skies after the big snow dump - looking up a slopping valley which is covered in deep snow, though some tussock grass mounds are sticking up out of the snow. A stark contrast with the clear blue sky
Blue skies after the big snow dump
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Another panorama taken from a high point on the plateau looking over a deep snow covered scene of the plateau in the foreground, a wide valley and the coast below, then the snow covered hills behind the valley. A snow shower can be seen moving across the ocean
Deep snow and snow showers
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
A (rat) dog stands on a snow covered slope looking back towards the plateau. Heavy snow is falling.
Heavy snow again
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Bull elephant seal with three females at Bauer Bay. The beach and is covered in snow with the slopes in the background extensively covered in deep snow
Bull elephant seal with three females at Bauer Bay
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Panorama view taken from high up of a creek valley  and the rugged slopes on the other side of the valley. The whole landscape is covered in deep snow and the and the dark blue ocean can be seen in the left of the scene
After the snow storm
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
The rugged slopes covered in deep snow. Streaks of snow can be seen blowing near the peak of the ridge, with sun-drenched white cloud just poking up from behind the ridge
More snow
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Bauer Bay hut surrounded by extensive deep snow
Bauer Bay hut surrounded by deep snow
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Panorama of a snow covered Bauer Bay, with the hut in the left of picture, the bay in the middle and the slopes of the escarpment on the right
Panorama of a snow covered Bauer Bay
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
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