Our week at Windy Ridge

Page 1 of 2 Next
This week at Macquarie Island: 30 August 2013
After a month of working separately, the rat team were reunited again in August for a final push to complete the Macquarie Island coastline.

Starting off at Eitel hut for a couple days, working from Aurora Point north. The weekend came round and it was decided to head to Bauer Bay hut for our day off.  Sunday plans included pancakes for breakfast, baking, painting with food colours, setting up the dartboard and playing golf on the beach.  We managed to lure rabbit hunter, Tom, back to the hut after he had planned on going back to station. It was of course going to be the ‘cool’ hut...

It was a nice day for it, and while the three of us were out undertaking the professional sport with deadly seriousness, we almost struck ranger in charge, Chris, as he wandered up the beach.

He wasn’t planning on staying the night but we soon convinced him otherwise. Besides, he came complete with can-opener and sweet and sour pork.

Monday brought a 25 km walk from Bauer Bay across the overland track to Windy Ridge hut, where we would be working from for the week.

Our first morning was white as Christmas. There was absolutely no wind and we hadn’t even noticed the thick layer of snow fall during the night. The walk over to Mt Jeffryes was stunning, incredibly calm and white everywhere.

We dropped down onto the coast from Mount Jeffryes and worked our way north to the historical hut. While doing so, we witnessed two orca feeding just off the coast at Mount Aurora, they were having a go at the local king penguins. They breached the water a couple of times and swam upside down through the water. We had a good view from where we were on the escarpment. Pretty spectacular.

That night at Windy Ridge it was absolutely calm again on the plateau, and we got a radio call from Mike, who was spotlighting, that there was an impressive aurora taking place outside. So out we went into the cold with the camera. Ange wasn’t REALLY keen, but I got some nice pics of her standing in front of the aurora in her thermals anyway.

Next up, we checked chew stick lines on the west coast, which included Cape Star and South Precarious Bay. We had lunch up on the top of Cape Star, as the wind was down and a nice fresh layer of snow was on the ground. So we got out our survival mats and had lunch.

No more than five minutes passed before we noticed a rather large bird flying over us. First thinking it was just another giant petrel, we were pretty surprised to see the black and white beauty sail over us a couple times. I then landed a few metres away from its’ chick in a clumsy mess, holding its huge wingspan awkwardly at its sides. We were pretty stoked. The parent eventually moved over to the chick and started feeding it, and the chick was pretty happy, it seemed. It had been waiting over a week for this feed.

Ange and I were getting pretty cold by now, having stayed still for over 15 minutes without moving. But we were keen to wait until the parent albatross flew off again, and see it take flight. It eventually did, having to climb up the bank and perch on the ridge to have enough wind-lift. What an amazing creature, we were so lucky to have been in that spot when it flew in.

Our week at Windy Ridge finally came to a close and we headed down to Waterfall Bay for the weekend, working around the Lusitania Bay residents (king penguins) on the coast and escarpment. The big fellas (elephant seals) had started coming in too, heaved up on the beaches and in between the tussock. There was also a leopard seal hauled out near Waterfall Bay hut.

After this the rat team went separate ways, checking chew stick lines that have now all been set out around Macquarie Island’s entire coastline. It takes about a week each month to check them all and re-bait with peanut oil. We have also recruited rabbit hunter Mike to help us in checking them, who proving capable of this prestigious task, was recently awarded his very own peanut oil bottle by the rat team.

And so that concludes the ‘Week at Windy Ridge’ with the rat girls. We look forward to next month’s surprises and will keep you posted...

Ka kite ano au i a koutou

Angela Newport, Leona Plaisier  and the canines: Bail, Cody and Chase.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angela Newport grasping a golf club (wood) addressing a yellow golf ball on the dark sands of Bauer Bay beach
Angela Newport golfing on Bauer Bay beach

(Photo: Leona Plaisier)

Rat girls, Leona and Ange standing ankle deep in a snow covered scene at Mt Jeffryes. Two of the 'rat dogs' are next to them in  the snow
Rat girls, Leona and Ange at Mt Jeffryes

(Photo: Leona Plaisier)

Ange silhouetted in front of the green aurora australis at Windy Ridge
Ange in front of the aurora at Windy Ridge

(Photo: Leona Plaisier)

Picture taken from Cape Star looking north towards Precarious Point on a cloudy day
Cape Star

(Photo: Leona Plaisier)

Wandering albatross on a slope amongst the snow covered grass
Wandering albatross

(Photo: Leona Plaisier)

Leopard seal in the foreground and a large elephant seal behind it on the rocky beach at Waterfall bay
Leopard seal (front) and elephant seal at Waterfall bay

(Photo: Leona Plaisier)

Select story:
This page was last modified on 30 August 2013.