This week at the station

This week at Macquarie Island: 11 January 2013

Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project

Not a lot of news from the hunters in the field this week other than everyone is enjoying the good weather and it’s nice to hike when the sun is out and you can remain ‘dry’. We have all come to realise what little time we have left on the island as the Aurora Australis will be at Macquarie Island early March and we’ll be back on the mainland mid to late March. Whilst everyone is very excited about seeing family and friends after 12 months away from home, we’re also keen to make the most of what little time we have left and visit those ‘special favourite locations’ on the island.  

Hunter walking down a steep grassy hill with two dogs
Karen, Ash and Finn
(Photo: Kelly Smith)
Female expeditioner enjoying the views over the coast
Jane
(Photo: Kelly Smith)
Female on the beach with thousands of royal penguins
Kelly with a few royal penguins
(Photo: Kelly Smith)
Female expeditioner and her labrador walking up a steep gully
Karen and Finn on the West Coast
(Photo: Kelly Smith)
Female hunter with her dog in the tussocks
Dana and Joker
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Bird swooping down on expeditioner in the field
Skua dive-bombing Dana
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Springer Spaniel sitting with a group of gentoo penguins
Joker with gentoo penguins
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Springer spaniel amongs the macquarie island cabbage
Joker
(Photo: Dana Boyte)

Rangers

The Rangers have been busy since the Christmas break with two cruise ship visits, track work on the Island Lake track and Brothers track and wildlife monitoring around the island.

It’s an interesting and busy time of year for the birds on Macquarie Island. Monitoring of species such as the cape petrels that breed on North Head is important to see if the birds are having breeding success and also as an indicator of the success of the eradication project. Rabbits were impacting on the habitat of ground nesting birds such as the cape petrels whilst rats and mice predate eggs and chicks. This week Rich and Paul returned to the cape petrel site to find that some eggs had failed, some birds were sitting on an egg, others were sitting on a chick and others were courting. It’s early days but reasonable breeding success is looking promising.

It’s a good time for tourists to visit as well as recently they have been able to observe birds in a range of situations as they congregate to breed. The skuas that reside near the Sandy Bay viewing platform have a robust chick that is easily viewed from the boardwalk, the royal penguins have chicks that are forming up crèches and constantly demanding to be fed, whilst some king penguins are still feeding last year's chicks and other kings are sitting on eggs.

Paul Black

Richard, Paul, Kelly, Stu and Lauren completing track work
Richard, Paul, Kelly, Stu and Lauren completing track work
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Stu and Kelly securing chicken wire to the planks
Stu and Kelly securing chicken wire to the planks
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
The Island Lake Planking Team
The Island Lake Planking Team
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Brown bird alongside expeditioner
Kelly being watched by a skua
(Photo: Lauren Koehler)
Team laying permanent planks over mud
Stu, Rich and Paul placing planks over the bog
(Photo: Lauren Koehler)
Large tourist vessel at Macquarie Island
The Orion - a nice way to travel
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
King penguins on the beach looking at the ship
The locals waiting for the tourists to arrive
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Tourists in red jackets walking up the stairs at one of the lookouts on station
Orion tourists enjoying a rare sunny calm day
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Tourists taking photos of the weather balloon release
All eyes and cameras on the release of the weather balloon
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Tourists sitting in the mess on station drinking tea and eating scones
Visitors enjoying tea and scones in the mess
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Two tourists in red jackets aiming their camera's at thousands of royal penguins
Tourists photographing the royal penguin colony
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
King penguins and the Orion
King penguins and the Orion
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Expeditioner on a grassy slope recording bird sightings
Rich records some cape petrel nest observations
(Photo: Paul Black)
An empty burrow
A failed cape petrel nest
(Photo: Paul Black)
Black and white bird in burrow on egg
Cape petrel on egg
(Photo: Paul Black)
Two black and white birds (cape petrel) in a burrow mating
Cape petrels courting
(Photo: Paul Black)
Black and white bird (cape petrel) sitting on nest with ocean in background
Cape petrel, North Head
(Photo: Paul Day)
Small grety chick in amongst the grass
Skua chick at Sandy Bay
(Photo: Paul Black)

Science

Remediation team

Charles, Josie and Lauren have been working away at the fuel farm, sampling groundwater before adding nutrients which stimulates the natural bacteria to grow and eat up more of the old fuel in the soil. The team have also been sampling groundwater around the main powerhouse before nutrients are added in that area too. Meanwhile, Lauren has been relocating the air sparges around the main power house. The air sparges pump air into the soil and help the bacteria grow and chew up the old fuel. Now with groundwater samples at hand, the team are beginning the process of measuring the hydrocarbons in the samples.

Alex and Grant have been busy looking at different soils across the isthmus in preparation for their mesocosm experiment. Sandy soil or organic soil? That is the question! The final choice will depend on which has the most bugs and is most like the contaminated areas on the station.

As we work away in the lab, Corrinne comes in and out, excited about plants she has seen and particularly those which are flowering and will soon produce seed. She is planning trips across the island to find more flowering specimens.

Corrinne, Al, Josie and Grant have all completed field training, each spending three days walking around the island. All came back amazed and in awe of the rugged beauty of this island!

Grant Hose

Expeditioner sitting at a desk ready to inspect soil samples
Al in the science lab
(Photo: Grant Hose)
Two female expeditioners standing behind a bench in the science lab
Josie and Lauren in the lab
(Photo: Grant Hose)
Female expeditioner standing in front of bottle cabinet in the science lab
Lauren
(Photo: Grant Hose)
4 expeditioners standing on the verandah with their packs on
Grant, Corrine, Cam and Cad ready to head off station
(Photo: John Cadd)
3 expeditioners resting on a hill looking at the camera
Cam, Corrine and John during field training
(Photo: Grant Hose)
2 expeditioners standing out the front of green a hut
John and Corrine at Green Gorge hut
(Photo: Grant Hose)
Three expeditioners in the field with packs on posing for camera
John, Corrine and Grant participating in field training
(Photo: Grant Hose)
Two expeditioners standing and watching 5 royal penguins
Corrine, John and a few friendly royal penguins
(Photo: Grant Hose)

Station

Our focus this week: repairs to a burst water pipe, transporting the hunters down the island on the zodiacs, field training for six personnel and general station maintenance and science support. Oh, and a game or two of cards, darts and a few movie nights.

Expeditioner kneeling down replairing a water pipe
Tom the Plumber replacing split water pipe
(Photo: Robby van Tongeren)
Two inflatable boats on the water taking people, dogs and gear to a field hut
Transporting people, dogs and gear down the island
(Photo: Robby Van Tongeren)

Wildlife

Three royal penguins biting a walking pole
Cheeky royal penguins
(Photo: Lauren Koehler)
Colony of royal penguins on a beach with a pretty sunset
Royal penguins enjoying the sunset
(Photo: Lauren Koehler)
Beach littered with seals and penguins
Busier than Bondi
(Photo: Lauren Koehler)
Skua bird with it's young chick beside it
Skua and chick
(Photo: Lauren Koehler)
Orca whale off the coast
Orca
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Royal penguin covered in mud
Too much Christmas pudding
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
One royal penguin being pecked by 7 others
Royal penguins challenging one of their own
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Two king penguins with their flippers around each other
King penguins in love
(Photo: Richard Dakin)

Scenery

Lake on the plateau surrounded by green tussock grass
Floating Lake
(Photo: Robby van Tongeren)
Looking down the steep gully to the hut on the coast
Hurd Point
(Photo: Lauren Koehler)
View from high on the plateau looking over the ocean and rocky coastline
Looking down the West Coast
(Photo: Lauren Koehler)
Flat grassy green track
Featherbed track
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Coastal view showing both mountains, slopes and ocean
View from Brothers Point hut
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Steep slopes, scree and ocean in background
Southeast corner of island
(Photo: Garry Shearsby)

Moments in Time

From old station log books...

13th January 1964 : 6am rise. Mess Stewart. Still strong winds and quite cold. Nissen hut was finished today, boys move in to living section tomorrow. One person in hospital with severe throat infection.

Kitchen stove was dismantled with help from Filson – ovens would not heat, will know tomorrow if corrected. Hot water supply stopped! Blocked pipe! Sewerage blocked!! the cause, a piece of rubber and two stones!! Sea-water flush after much pushing and ‘stirring’, freed pipe line.

Beer issue with films “Mildred Pierce” after firstly all helping to launch second balloon for Nod Parsons. Glad Monday 13th is over !! bed 10.30pm. Another balloon released.

Monday 7th January, 1974 : Cary continues burying H.T. cable between camp and radio building. It will be a large job. Brian framing up vehicle w/e extension. 1 side up and 1 prepared. Ralph, Peter, Lee and self with Cary continued making concrete paths. Framed section from new dongas to surgery and poured before lunch. First power failure. Main tripped. Radio transmitter was being switched at the time. Phone circuits are working now Chris has fixed the selector circuit. Evan returned from Bauer Bay got another dead car from near Red River.

15th January, 1976 : I cannot get several; of the blokes to wear hard hats of which there is a good supply. Borrowed six from the Nella Dan, five refuse to wear them. Only Rod, Ian and I are wearing safety lines. Bruce and all the free people up Gadgets Gully, dug out the water supply and practiced abseiling on a scree slope. Ian, Alex and Nigel to Bauer re petrels. Continued to abseil on sea rocks in Garden Cove.

Wednesday 8th May, 1996 : Waves washed over the road near the helipads last night, smoothing the sand and leaving fragments of kelp, and nearly did so again around noon. Weather was wild, hovering around freezing point till evening, with a gusty SW gale periodically lashing us with every form of precipitation known including sea spray. The rangers Bob and Eddie returned in early afternoon having been out for three weeks and killed 42 feral cats, 2 per day, with 9 on one day. A lively evening – another meeting of the Winter Wednesday Wine Club – welcomed them back. Rick and Paul Klemes, at Hurd Pt, are the only expeditioners down island tonight.]

Old boiler pots and other heritage material on display on station
Relics from years gone by
(Photo: Robby Van Tongeren)
Large rusted heritage pots with the west coast in the background
Heritage items displayed on station
(Photo: Robby van Tongeren)
This page was last modified on 16 December 2010.