Craig explores the east coast

This week at Macquarie Island: 23 August 2013
Descending the Green Gorge jump down to the coast I entered a stretch of the island I had yet had the pleasure to explore. The rugged coast revealed a small cave once used by sealers as shelter. Before long we entered tussock country and I was trying to keep pace with the little tussock hopper himself – Ranger Chris.

I was fortunate enough to be Chris’ assistant for a couple of days trekking along the southern east coast.  We were photographing king penguin chicks so that they can be counted and compared with previous seasons. Our other task was to locate Northern and Southern giant petrel colonies in preparation for the annual survey of these birds which will take place next month.

We rested up at Waterfall Bay hut before continuing the following day to Hurd Point at the southern end of the island. Overnight snowfall made for some great scenery and easier walking through the tussock. We arrived at Lusitania Bay to the site of thousands of king penguin chicks. It was a daunting task for Chris to try and photograph them all as I took notes. Luckily for us though it is still early in the season as this site is home to an estimated 100,000 birds at the peak of breeding. It is easy to see why this was the spot chosen for an oiling works back in the 1800s.

The afternoon was spent negotiating some spectacular coastline on our way to Hurd point hut where we were met by Josh and Clive (see previous story). Some award winning bread was baked and some ‘creative’ Scrabble played to round out a top day.

By Craig George

The beautiful green tinged waves of a aurora australis from Green Gorge beach
Aurora from Green Gorge beach
(Photo: Craig George)
A couple of fur seals south of Waterfall Bay, just beyond the tussock on a rocky beach
Fur seals south of Waterfall Bay
(Photo: Craig George)
Several large groups of king penguins adults and chicks near the old Lusitania Bay hut. Four wheels attached to a chassis of a wrecked Larc can also be seen on the beach. There is a light dusting of snow on the wheels and the the steep slopes behind the beach
King penguins at the old Lusitania Bay Hut
(Photo: Craig George)
Lusitania Bay king penguin colony - looking north along the beach at a mixture of hundreds of adults and chicks
Lusitania Bay king penguin colony
(Photo: Craig George)
Nine Macquarie Island shags roosting on top of a tussock covered rock stack next to the ocean
Macquarie Island shags
(Photo: Craig George)