This week at Macquarie Island

12 November 2010
Fighting elephant seals No need to get into the wilderness to experience the wildlife here. The elephant seals both young and old are still all around us, although the sight of fighting bulls is less common as the cows wean their pups and return to sea to feed, leaving the little weaners to take care of themselves before they too will soon take to the sea. 12 November 2010

5 November 2010
The Australian national flag and the tricolour flying at half mast at Macca last weekend in memory of the French helicopter accident Six new expeditioners arrived on station on the Sunday before last on the French Antarctic research vessel L’Astrolabe. We had a good three-day trip down and were delighted to arrive here to a warm reception. However we were to be greatly saddened by the tragic news a few days later of the death of four of the ship’s French expeditioners in the helicopter crash near Dumont D’Urville. Our sympathies go to our French colleagues and the families of the victims of the accident. The Australian flag and the tricolour which had been both flying on the station flagpoles for the ship’s arrival on Sunday were sadly flying again at half mast just a few days later. 5 November 2010

29 October 2010
Pair of light-mantled sooty albatross Last Friday we held a barbeque at the Ham Shack, a comfortable hut with a veranda overlooking the sea and good views into nearby Garden Cove. Best of all, a light-mantled sooty albatross had started making a nest beside a rock quite close to the veranda and was calling up to potential mates. To our delight another albatross did fly in for a few moments of courtship, getting the cameras clicking. With luck we will be able to watch at close quarters the raising of an albatross chick there through summer. 29 October 2010

20 October 2010
Gentoo chick It’s freezing outside once again, and snow covers the ground. Here it is not so much temperature that defines seasons, as day length, presumably what the wildlife responds to, providing the cue to trigger the breeding urge in this island zoo. The gentoo penguins nest in the tussocks near the beaches, the closest only a few metres from buildings with some right beside roads and paths, where vehicles and people pass only centimetres from them. Their eggs are now hatching, and small, black faces can sometimes be seen protruding from beneath white parental tummies. 20 October 2010

15 October 2010
Troy installing the antennas Two persistent themes running through everyday life at Macquarie Island are the wildlife (it’s a bit like living in a zoo!) and the wind. Both aspects feature in this week’s news. The wind is ever-present. And when it gets well above gale force, gusting to more than 60 knots at the station and more on hilltops down the island, damage can result. 15 October 2010

8 October 2010
Bull cosying up to Robby’s office We have been bothered recently by the bull elephant seals in their seasonally testosterone-fuelled condition. 8 October 2010

1 October 2010
Elephant seal cow with recording device The beaches are being monitored weekly (and soon daily) to count the number of breeding cows present, as part of long-term research into the population trends of this spectacular animal. A few of the cows have a very space age look to them, sporting electronic recording devices which are part of an ongoing oceanographic research project.  1 October 2010

24 September 2010
Checking the water supply line in Gadget Gully Greetings from a chilly (and maybe rather smelly?) Macquarie Island. For the whole week our water supply from Gadget Gully has been frozen, and we have been rationing our water use. This happens at some time or other every winter and we have been lucky to have mostly avoided it so far this year, although it seems a little unfair to suffer now just as spring is unfolding outside! 24 September 2010

17 September 2010
Boat launch at Sandy Bay The new main power house continues towards completion, the Sandy Bay boardwalk is designed, the northern giant petrel census is completed and animals return to the Island for spring. 17 September 2010

10 September 2010
Skua The weather, a constant talking point here, once again ran the full gamut: rain, sunshine, wind, fog, snow and frost, with the water supply pipes mercifully freezing up for only a few hours. Back in force are the skuas, in good time to enjoy the bonanza of food that appears during spring. 10 September 2010

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This page was last modified on 18 August 2010.