This week at the station

This week at Macquarie Island: 20 September 2013

Caught up in the snow

The MIPEP (Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Program) crew were out in force once again in September, spread out between the huts and preparing for a full month in the field.

The rodent team has moved their focus onto the plateau, having completed work on the coast in August. They have started placing even more monitoring gear out, targeting the wide open spaces of the plateau over the coming months.

There were some stunning days during the first week out in the field, with spring becoming more obvious as the days get longer, brighter, and noisier. The change of season became even more apparent when the first seal pups were being born on the beaches as female Elephant seals started to come ashore and the ‘big blokes’ that harass them moved to firm up their position in the hierarchy.

This oasis wasn’t destined to last. On the 12th of September, in typical Macquarie Island fashion, an impressive snow storm swept over the island, halting work everywhere for a three-day period, rendering hunters hut-bound.

The snow fell deep and covered the island thoroughly, transiting or hunting was out of the question. Even keeping the dog kennels visible was a consuming task.

What takes place in field huts around the island in times like these can be interesting... for a certain amount of time before the novelty wore off. At the Bauer Bay house-hold, most of the time was spent cooking food, playing darts, walking and training dogs, beach-trips with the spade, reading and more cooking. Towards the end of the week there was also a ‘’salon’’ moment when everyone endured rather shocking hair styles given to them by the other two hut-mates.

It was of course a relief when Saturday came and we were able to move out again.

The snow was very deep and took it’s time to melt. Some large drifts were encountered on the plateau. The water back at station had frozen in the pipes making life back there a little difficult also.

One more month to go before the L'Astrolabe arrives, so we’re all busy getting things organised for that as well and for the arrival of our new team mates.

A wide panorama view of the snow covered plateau with Cody and Bail (terriers) standing in the snow on a slope with a hill behind them
Somewhere on the plateau, with Cody and Bail
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Blue skies after the big snow dump - looking up a slopping valley which is covered in deep snow, though some tussock grass mounds are sticking up out of the snow. A stark contrast with the clear blue sky
Blue skies after the big snow dump
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Another panorama taken from a high point on the plateau looking over a deep snow covered scene of the plateau in the foreground, a wide valley and the coast below, then the snow covered hills behind the valley. A snow shower can be seen moving across the ocean
Deep snow and snow showers
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
A (rat) dog stands on a snow covered slope looking back towards the plateau. Heavy snow is falling.
Heavy snow again
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Bull elephant seal with three females at Bauer Bay. The beach and is covered in snow with the slopes in the background extensively covered in deep snow
Bull elephant seal with three females at Bauer Bay
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Panorama view taken from high up of a creek valley  and the rugged slopes on the other side of the valley. The whole landscape is covered in deep snow and the and the dark blue ocean can be seen in the left of the scene
After the snow storm
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
The rugged slopes covered in deep snow. Streaks of snow can be seen blowing near the peak of the ridge, with sun-drenched white cloud just poking up from behind the ridge
More snow
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Bauer Bay hut surrounded by extensive deep snow
Bauer Bay hut surrounded by deep snow
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)
Panorama of a snow covered Bauer Bay, with the hut in the left of picture, the bay in the middle and the slopes of the escarpment on the right
Panorama of a snow covered Bauer Bay
(Photo: Leona Plaisier)

Cake, cake and more cake

During the last week there were three expeditioners who celebrated their birthday.

Last Saturday, the 14th Barend (Barry) celebrated his day, by working his shift at the weather office, then partaking in a lovely Thai meal specially prepared by Chef for the occasion. After the meal a scrumptious chocolate mud cake (also made by Chef Tony) was brought out. Baz had no trouble blowing out the four candles and then slicing up the cake and offering a piece to anyone who was nearby. He was heard to remark ‘that’s another year closer to retirement.’

The party was short lived, as he had to perform other station duties.

Two days later (16th Sep) it was Patty’s turn. The dinner theme for her night was South American – the national flag of Chile was draped over one wall of the mess, and the music playing in the background had a Latin American beat. Again after the delicious dinner a beautifully decorated cake (by Karen) was brought out, accompanied by a enthusiastic rendition of Happy Birthday. The cake was expertly decorated with an image (made out of brown icing sugar of Pachamama which translates to ‘Mother Earth’ in some South American countries.

The next day (17th Sep) our illustrious FTO (Field Training Officer) Marty celebrated his birthday. He was sure it was going to be a quiet affair, but unbeknown to him everyone dressed in fancy dress for an all-station meeting which was broadcast live to the other Australian Antarctic bases and a big audience at Kingston. It didn’t help matters (keeping it quiet) when Marty’s birthday was mentioned in dispatches.

Later that evening another great meal was served, which included beef Wellington and amazing lamb cutlets. The cake that followed was a masterpiece in cake decoration. A pyramid tent adorned a corner of the cake, complete with tent pegs and guy ropes. In front of the tent was a fire place with the fire made up of six candles. It had a track across the cake, complete with track markers and to complete the theme, three different knots were represented – made of ‘icing’ ropes.

A big thank you to Kaz for the cake decorating and all those who helped chef Tony prepare the meals for these three monumental occasions. 

Barry sitting at a table with his big rectangular birthday chocolate mud cake. He has just let off a party popper and Lionel(sitting next to him) has his hands over his ears
Barry's birthday
(Photo: Tony Mortimer)
Barry cutting the large chocolate mud cake with a big knife. Another expeditioner (Lionel) looks on,
Cutting the cake
(Photo: Tony Mortimer)
Patty's birthday cake, decorated with the image of Pachamama
Patty's birthday cake
(Photo: Tony Mortimer)
Patty with a bunch of flowers in front of her. It is a collection of grass stems with small bags of flour attached
Patty with her bunch of flours'
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Marty's birthday cake, beautifully decorated, complete with pyramid tent, tent pegs, guy ropes, a walking path with track markers and the letters FTO on the side of the cake
Marty's birthday cake
(Photo: Tony Mortimer)
Marty's Birthday cake from a different angle, showing the rope knots made with different coloured icing
Marty's birthday cake from a different angle
(Photo: Tony Mortimer)
Marty with his birthday cake. It has a single burning sparkler and several lit candles
Marty with his birthday cake
(Photo: Tony Mortimer)
Fifteen of the expeditioners all dressed up in fancy dress for the all station meeting (on Marty's Birthday). There are many coloured balloons decorating the room with the letters 'Marty' written across five of them
All dressed up for the all station meeting (on Marty's Birthday). The…
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)

Macca Gallery

In this weeks Macca Gallery, we see that there have been more photo opportunities as the wildlife returns.

We also have more picture of the big snowfall and the deep freeze that we experienced over the last week out in the field and also locally on station. 

Rainbow from the station - with one end on the isthmus right over Greg in his yellow (gold) wet weather jacket
Pot of gold
(Photo: David Brett)
A large male elephant seal lying in the shade on the porch of the gas stare. The beautiful vivid blue waters of Buckles Bay are in the background
Comfortable in the shade
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Six king penguins walking over the deep snow on the beach at Green Gorge. The tussock in the background is almost completely covered in the deep snow
King penguins in the deep snow at Green Gorge
(Photo: Marty Benavente)
A view down the east coast with the landscape covered in deep snow
Deep snow at the station
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Many king penguins on a snow covered beach. The background shows extensive deep snow cover over the tussock and the escarpment in the background
King penguins at Green Gorge after a big snowfall
(Photo: Marty Benavente)
A new born elephant seal nuzzles up to its mother looking for her teat. A skua looks on hungrily in the background
New born elephant seal looking for a feed
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
A giant petrel in flight just above the tussock and a large male elephant seal
Giant petrel flyover
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
A female elephant seal rests on its side while its pup, also resting on its side, facing her
Mother and child resting
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)
Several adult king penguins stand in the foreground on a snow covered beach. Behind them is a creche of many young, brown fluffy penguins. There are deep snow covered slopes in the background
King penguin colony at Green Gorge
(Photo: Marty Benavente)
A skua comes into landing on the beach amongst an elephant seal nursery. It's wings are flared and its feet are down with it's head pointing down looking for the right spot to land
Flaps up... landing gear down
(Photo: Barend (Barry) Becker)