This week at the station

This week at Macquarie Island: 18 January 2013

Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project

Source: Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project Newsletter – Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service

Issue 12 – January 2013

Australian and New Zealand expertise in 2013 team

The 2013 hunting team is about to commence training in Hobart and will be deployed to Macquarie Island in early March. There they will swap over with the 2012 team who’ve searched the island for rabbit sign since May 2012, covering thousands of kilometres in the search for rabbits. Encouragingly, the post-baiting tally remains at 13.

Training includes eradication project-based components while Australian Antarctic Division pre-departure training includes search and rescue training, field training and community training. The 2013 team of 12 is drawn from Australia and New Zealand and includes three of the 2012 team staying on for a second stint - eradication team leader Stephen Horn and assistant team leaders Karen Andrew and Stuart Johnson.

Stephen Horn has been working on Macquarie Island since April 2012 as a dog handler. He is excited about his appointment as eradication team leader.

“The opportunity to lead a team for this year, to ensure we achieve the eradication outcome of this significant project, will be a highlight for me,” Stephen said.

“It is a wonderful experience being part of a small team, in an environment as stimulating as that of Macquarie Island. We work and live on this island, embracing all that it encompasses in terms of weather and the opportunity to live amongst the fauna and recovering flora of this World Heritage site.”

Rodent dogs

Winter 2013 marks two years since the completion of aerial baiting on Macquarie Island. As outlined in the operational plan, a check will be made for rodent presence using rodent detection dogs. To implement this work, two of the New Zealand’s Department of Conservation’s foremost rodent dog handlers will join the 2013 team, together with their certified rodent detection dogs. They have many years of experience between them in searching islands for rodent presence after an eradication program, from Raoul Island in the sub-tropical Kermadec Islands, to sub-Antarctic Campbell Island.

Their task on Macquarie is to scour the island to determine whether rodents are present or not. It’s a big ask as there are endless nooks and crannies where a surviving rodent could be living, especially amongst the boulder fields in and around penguin colonies. The two year post-baiting period is primarily to give any rodent survivors a chance to breed up to the point where there is a higher probability of detecting these individuals. The 2011 and 2012 hunting teams have also been keeping an eye out for rodents in the course of their rabbit hunting work with no confirmed sign found to date. A zero find by the rodent detection team at the end of their work should provide confidence for the team to declare the island free of rats and mice, a major goal of the project.

Expeditioner with back pack high on a slope looking down on a hut and the coast line
Stephen at Hurd Point
(Photo: Garry Shearsby)
Expeditioner with a satelite phone talks to his partner back home holding speaker out to ele seal
Gazz phoning home invites an ele seal to make a comment
(Photo: Garry Shearsby)
Expeditioner phoning home holds out phone to a large group of royal penguins
And now for the royal penguins to say hello
(Photo: Garry Shearsby)
Expeditioner taking a photo of his feet with a royal penguin colony in the background
Gazz at Hurd Point royal penguin colony
(Photo: Garry Shearsby)
Expeditioner climbing up a steel coastal grassy slope
Gazz climbing up tussock coastal slope
(Photo: Anna Lashko)
black and white photo of expeditioner walking away from camera
Cam
(Photo: Kelly Smith)
expeditioner in the kitchen making yoghurt
Cam at Green Gorge hut making yoghurt
(Photo: Kelly Smith)
Labrador positioned high on a mountain looking over a valley
Finn looking for rabbits
(Photo: Karen Andrew)
Expeditioner walking along a track with her two dogs
Karen, Finn and Ash
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Expeditioner on the beach, slight snow fall
Stu at Green Gorge
(Photo: Stu Johnson)

Rangers

A week in the life of a Macquarie Island ranger

The role of working as a ranger can generally be described in a few words and ‘diverse’ is certainly one of them. This is especially the case on Macquarie Island.

This week the rangers partook in a variety of duties including:

  • Northern giant petrel nest resights and banding
  • Blue Petrel nesting census works
  • Tourist guiding for the ship; Spirit of Enderby
  • Film crew supervision and assistance for a German documentary
  • Walking track realignment and marking
  • Cape Petrel nest resights
  • Collection of samples for diet analysis for science
  • Assistance with rostered cooking and cleaning in station life

Many of these duties were completed with other expeditioners, creating a good feeling in working together to meet common goals. In fact, much of the work over the past year has been physically demanding or challenging due to poor weather conditions however, living in a remote community, the expeditioners have assisted works to get the job done. Some of the most enjoyable times had involve the friendly banter during completing works as a team. 

Expeditioner taking photos of penguins
Ranger Rich at the Nuggets
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Male expeditioner standing alongside penguins on the beach
Ranger Paul
(Photo: Paul Black)

Science

The remediation team had a busy week working on various projects. Corrine has continued searching for flowering plants from which she will later collect seeds. She has also positioned data loggers in the rock pools around Garden Cove which will log the changes in water temperature over the summer.  Grant, Alex and Corrine have selected, collected and homogenised (with the cement mixer) the soil for the mesocosm experiment, then selected sites and buried the mesocosms for the three year experiment.

Josie, Charles and Lauren have been busy collecting and analysing samples from the remediation sites on the isthmus and maintaining the vast remediation infrastructure. Sampling was conducted around the main power house and fuel farm by Josie and Lauren for the analysis of nutrients and hydrocarbons, while Charles managed to fit in a trip to Hurd Point. Following his return, Charles commenced maintenance checks on the air lines around the main power house before adding nutrients to the system.

Al Michie

Two expeditioners looking into a rock pool
Al and Corrine at Garden Cove
(Photo: Grant Hose)
Two expeditioners looking into rock pools
Al and Corrine at inspecting rock pools
(Photo: Grant Hose)
Data logger looks like a rock positioned in a rock pool
Data logger positioned in Garden Cove rock pool
(Photo: Grant Hose)
Expeditioner driving the small red station ute
Corrine behind the wheel of Big Red
(Photo: Grant Hose)
Two expeditioners placing dirt into plastic bins
Al and Corrine working on the mesocosm installation
(Photo: Grant Hose)
Two expeditioners placing soil in plastic bins
Al and Grant installing the mesocosm
(Photo: Grant Hose)
Female expeditioner in amongst the tussocks
Corrine
(Photo: Grant Hose)
Male expeditioner walking through the tussocks with a rod
Al installing the mesocosm
(Photo: Grant Hose)

Farewell

On the weekend we’ll wave goodbye to four members of the Macquarie Island family.

Pete and Jane have been part of the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication project for the past few years and will leave us after spending 646 days on the island. Both Pete and Jane arrived on Macca in April 2011 and have remained here for the duration, both in leadership roles. We wish them all the best and we look forward to seeing them in Hobart at the end of March when the rest of us return.

Simon and Bruce also leave us - their stay has been a brief but very enjoyable one. Bruce and Simon arrived in December.

Thank you for the laughs, your support and your friendship.

Close up photo of male face
Pete
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Close up of female face
Jane
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Full photo of expeditioner dressed in yellow water proof clothing
Simon
(Photo: Simon Jarman)
Expeditioner on rocks leaning over to pick up penguin scat
Bruce
(Photo: Simon Jarman)

Wildlife

All creatures, great and small

Hundreds of king penguins sitting on their eggs, view from above
King penguins nesting at Gadgets Gully
(Photo: Narelle Campbell)
Springer spaniel dog with five king penguins standing behind him
Gus with a few king penguins
(Photo: Narelle Campbell)
Close up of a young fur seal on the beach
Cheeky young fur seal
(Photo: Robby Van Tongeren)
Close up of a skua's head
Up close with a skua
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
King penguin raising her belly showing the camera her egg
King penguin showing off her egg
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Close up of three king penguins heads and long necks
King penguins
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Two king penguins resting on an island bigger enough just for the two of them
An island for two
(Photo: Richard Dakin)
Large norther giant petrel light grey fluffy chick sitting on nesy
Northern giant petrel chick
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Eight little rockhopper penguins on rocks looking towards the camera
Rockhoppers
(Photo: Dana Boyte)
Close up of a large grey fluffy northern giant petrel chick sitting on its nest
Northern giant petrel chick
(Photo: Dana Boyte)

Scenery

View down a steep gully at a penguin rookery, Hurd Point
Hurd Point
(Photo: Garry Shearsby)
View of a subantarctic bay with lots of seals, Garden Cove
Garden Cove
(Photo: Andrew Winchester)
Sunny day at Buckles Bay with seals all over the beach
Buckles Bay
(Photo: Andrew Winchester)
A view of the coastline from the water, steep slopes with snow fall
Brothers Point
(Photo: Andrew Winchester)
Hut close to the waters edge, from the sea looking towards the coast
Green Gorge hut
(Photo: Andrew Winchester)
View across the plateau of mountain peaks black and white photo, Pyramid Peak
Looking towards Pyramid Peak
(Photo: Andrew Winchester)

Moments in Time

From old station logs

Friday 24th January, 1964 : 7.15am rise. Little rain but winds 45 mph! Cement floor of seal hut completed under most trying conditions. Ling, Thomas, Simpson, Peterson, Stair, Filson, Phillips and Nunn battled all day! King has found Emerg generator for wireless u/s. Abbott and Gadd returned from Bauer Bay. “Calling Antarctica” reception good with some fade, message for Joe Allan. My cold is better now being treated for “cement eyes”. Bed 9pm.

Saturday 19th January, 1974 : Moderate winds. Some rain, some cloud. Ralph fixing concrete mixer. Peter forming up for paths around met area. Chris to Nuggets for photographs. Terry terracing the BBQ area a bit more. Water supply input only just balancing usage.

As far as I’m aware morale is good. Some people count the days, others the weeks and others the months. Others have missed families like myself and Ralph but say little. Peter has some personal business problems but those do not affect his outward morale. He and Col always appear happy.  Most of the guys are well adjusted mature people. This makes the place run smoothly and makes my job of O.I.C easy so far.

23rd January, 1976 : OIC standing in for night obs for Ian P who is hard pressed with blisters  and met repairs. Paul and Peter went to Eagle Caves. Col and Tom to Nuggets. Jeannie and Rod to North Head. Bruce O and Mike S depart for Hurd Point. Ian M to Bauer in thick fog. Chas and Fred lost in fog and returned to Green. Bruce and Mike unable to find their way to Hurd and went to Caroline Cove instead.

14th October, 1996 : Jeremy along with about ½ the station left today for various huts around the island. The reason for this mass exodus was brought on by the annual October 15 elephant seal survey. Ferrett went back into the field after only a 2 day break, vowing to return soon for his traditional flag pole painting. Rick and Ray were cook and slushy today giving Ingrid the day off. Lunch was pizza, a high standard with caramel creams for an after lunch sweet. Tea was a delightful meal of Patagonia Tooth Fish cooled in lemon and lime juice with a touch of cayenne pepper and sprinkling of tarragon leaves. Smitty returned from the field minus his goatee and looking very different just like a little boy. Life on the station is ticking along nicely.   

This page was last modified on 16 December 2010.