Bird counting, Hurd Point and Caroline Cove visits, water sampling, station work, some cute and some graphic images of wildlife are all on offer this week from Macca.

Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project

The following extract is taken from a two page article published in The Australasian Wildlife Management Newsletter, November 2012 edition.

Macquarie Island on the road to recovery following eradication

Liz Wren, Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service

With the removal of rabbits, rats and mice, the welcome mat was rolled out to burrowing sea birds which return to the island each spring to breed. Populations of some bird species are slowly increasing, with the island’s burrowing petrels in particular showing a strong response to the removal of the three pest species. Blue petrels, previously restricted to breeding on offshore rock stacks due to rat predation, have begun to breed again on the main island. Likewise, grey petrels have shown increased breeding success and have fledged greater numbers of chicks, both positive indicators even in these early days. In the first breeding season since baiting finished, Antarctic terns are now breeding on the island’s cobblestone beaches in far greater numbers than previously, when they were restricted to less accessible rock stacks.

Dense spider webs, shimmering with moisture particles, have been observed in recovering vegetation, a sight not seen on Macquarie Island for many years and a strong indicator of the rapid recovery of spider populations in the absence of mice predation. Botanists too are excited by the rapid re-greening of the island now that Macquarie’s unique vegetation is no longer under the crushing pressure of grazing by more than 100,000 rabbits. Although it is exciting to see endemic megaherbs such as the silver leaf daisy (Pleurophyllum hookeri) and Macquarie Island cabbage (Stilbocarpa polaris) obviously flourishing, botanists warn that the entire island ecosystem had suffered serious damage as a result of the decades of intense grazing pressure and it may be as long as 20 years before a new ecological equilibrium is reached.

Ranger in Charge

Surveying different bird species continued this week in different parts of the island, this time with some nice weather to go with the challenging snowy conditions of last week. Jaimie and Anna (albatross staff) completed the survey of the grey headed albatross and black browed albatross, and banding wandering albatross chicks on Petrel Peak. Many people might wonder what an albatross survey involves. As an example, checking the grey headed albatross nests involves searching the steep slopes to locate the nests, checking for leg bands, eggs and recording any other items of note. In this case the albatross researchers are attempting to find out what factors influence breeding success and how this will change as rabbit grazing pressure on the vegetation is eliminated. This involves collecting information about the site such as slope, aspect, vegetation type, shelter etc. 

Richard and Paul completed the southern giant petrel survey in the northern part of the island while the rabbit hunters and dog handlers continued with the skua survey. They also contributed other bird observations that they made while conducting their hunting tasks. 

The survey work will change next week as different species finish breeding and other species begin to breed. Seal numbers are diminishing as the breeding season is all but over. Elephant seal cows have mostly left and returned to sea but there are still bull seals and weaner seals around. Gentoo penguin chicks are forming crèches as the chicks are much larger, mobile and increasingly more noisy. Parents put the chicks in crèches whilst they go to sea to feed. Northern giant petrel chicks have hatched out whilst southern giant petrels are sitting on eggs. Next week we’ll be surveying rockhopper penguins around the coast as they will be starting to sit on eggs.

Paul Black


Jaimie and Anna have returned to station after two weeks out in the field. They have successfully banded all six wandering albatross chicks down in the south west. They have conducted nest checks on the grey headed and black browed albatross around Petrel Peak which are now on eggs. Nest checks have also been carried out on the light mantled sooty albatross at Hurd Point, Bauer Creek, Sawyer Creek and Sandy Bay. The team have also carried out the skua census at Caroline Cove and the southern giant petrel census on the southeast coast.

The remediation team has once again taken full advantage of the good weather which Macca has had to offer, spending most of this week outside at the emergency power house and fuel farm sites collecting baseline water samples. These samples are collected from points known as piezometers and mini piezometers which have been installed into the ground during previous seasons. Samples are also collected from the seeps around the escarpment of both sites. These samples will be analysed in the lab at Macquarie Island for nutrient concentrations prior to the addition of nutrient in the form of fertiliser.

The team has faced a couple of challenges trying to get these samples as some of the sampling points had become “sealed” and the weaners (weaning seal pups) had decided that the south remediation zone of the emergency power house was a good place to have their siesta. The team has now completed the water sampling at both sites and are moving on to collecting soil samples for nutrient analysis. These will be sent back to Kingston at the end of the season on V4 to be analysed by the lab team for soil nutrient concentrations. Charles and Lauren will then be getting ready to add the first lot of liquid nutrient into the remediation zones at both sites.


A week of warm weather and sunshine (temps reached +8.5 C). Is this the start of summer or should we expect more wind and rain? 

Those on station focused on general maintenance jobs such as repairing the timber fences, servicing engines, refueling and rewiring outside lighting.


All creatures, great and small


Moments in Time

Excerpts from station logs

11th November, 1964

Remembrance Day – duty watch turned to 0800 a rough day indeed, temp low, wind max 60 mph. Snow and rain. Field party arrived safely Hurd Point and if conditions permit will do a run to Caroline Cove. Barratt having trouble with radar blowing valves and only a few left so he may only last a week or so. Everyone is busy, happy and well. George gave us a surprise ‘lamingtons’ for afternoon tea. This day was observed by a ceremony at 1055 hours at the flag pole and a short service was given by Dr Geoff Middleton it was indeed intrepid, wind blowing and driving snow. All duty watch attended and apologies received from only a few. It was indeed heartening to see the young group and such strong characters in attendance. Went back to the O.I.C. office where with senior members “Splice the Main Brace” with Nelsons Blood to Comrades — queen. Lest we forget.

15th November, 1976

Sea fog and rain all day — cleared briefly in the evening — no winds. Fred and Chas racing against time to complete ceiling and wiring of powerhouse — Zoe and Terry to Floating Island and Sandy on study. One of the expeditioners being antagonistic, very uptight and virtually impossible to strike up a conversation. I painted wall of Sealers and attempted to get table tennis players to paint another  — all too busy — very discouraging attitude after the use made of this fine amenity building. Hooker sea lion on Magnetic Beach this evening at 0800- also a leopard seal with mouth badly decaying, unable to tag.

April 1st, 1996

The Macca Republic is born! Macquarie Island declared unilaterally that henceforth it is no longer a dependency of Tasmania, it secedes from Australia, and is now an independent republic. The announcement was made over Australia Radio National at 0740, in an interview between Jeremy and the announcer Pru Goward. This contact was made by summering expeditioner Judith Urquhart  through former Station Leader Joan Russell, a great improvement upon the original newspaper story plan. Messages came back throughout the day from Australia (but no official reaction from the Division, which wasn’t mentioned in the interview), mostly from people delightedly sharing the joke, but also from two ABC radio stations (in Hobart and Adelaide) who had been completely taken in by the story! Delightful! The most convincing aspect was the comment that Pru had managed to obtain from the Minister as part of the story. We ourselves were unable to hear the interview till we got a dictaphone copy of the tape recording over the phone in the evening. Several people listened and laughed in the sauna, where Ingrid, Dave and Ferret (all of whom arrived in September) were celebrating their 200th day on the island.