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.
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.
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!
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.
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.]