Picture after picture of wonder, wildlife and fairy tale landscapes, a kitchen reno and the usual updates, this week from Macca.

Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project


The rostered period in the field was 34 days which equated to 1822 hours of hunting. The team of 12 covered 4248km, the highest coverage for a roster since the Pest Eradication Project began the hunting phase in August 2011.

Three months into this hunting season the new team (having arrived mid-April) have found no live rabbits. Despite this, everyone assigned to the Pest Eradication Project are still highly motivated. With spring just around the corner, wildlife will start to return to the island making trekking even more interesting. While this is all very exciting for the hunters and their dogs, it will be increasingly difficult to access and hunt along the coastal areas after August due to the large seal and penguin populations expected to arrive shortly (the teams focus is on minimising disturbance to wildlife). During August the team will focus their attention along the coast, especially the longer tussock areas that surround most of the soon to be occupied penguin colonies on the island.

While it can be quite lonely in the field at times the team come together each night at 1900 hrs as part of the nightly sked back to station where they can hear each other’s intentions for the following day. After formalities, the team pulls out their bingo cards and wait for either Mango or Colin (comms team) to read out the nightly bingo numbers. Only four numbers per night are read out and we are now into week two of the bingo competition. Tension is mounting… who screams out BINGO is anyone’s guess.

Ranger in Charge

King Penguin Chick Census by Richard Dakin

As spring aproaches the start of wildlife census work begins.

Every August, a population survey is completed to gain knowledge on the location and number of king penguin chicks. The ranger walks the east coast taking photos of all the chick creches (the chicks huddle together for protection and warmth). The photos are best taken on a relatively warm day when the chicks take more personal space, have their heads up more often and are easier to count and identify on the photos. Photos are taken from afar from a position up on a rock stack or escarpment so the many heads/backs can best be viewed.

Desktop photography software is used to modify and sharpen the photos and count the individual chicks. However, each chick requires a click of the mouse. With an estimated number of over 35,000 chicks it is a case of ‘one by one the penguins steal the rangers sanity’.

Also of note for the start of August, a Pied oystercatcher (most likely from New Zealand) came to visit Macquarie Island. There are no known records of this occuring before. Maria Tomasi, the chef, took some wonderful photos (below) and resident birdo Stuart Johnson (MIPEP hunter) is helping in identifying the species and possibly subspecies of the vagrant bird. An adult leopard seal was also sighted one evening on the isthmus by Jane Tansell (MIPEP hunter).

Station work

The kitchen renovations are now complete thanks to all involved. After having the kitchen offline for five days it was nice to be able to test out the new, shiny, clean equipment.

Another successful job completed during the week involved comms. For quite some time we haven’t been able to involve those residing at Hurd Point in the evening skeds. Instead, the team have had to call station on the sat phone. Determined to resolve this problem, Colin (our Senior Comms Tech Officer) walked to Hurd Point to investigate the problem. After replacing a few parts on the aerial Colin was able to make contact with station on channel 21. The result is that everyone on the island, regardless of what hut they are in, can now talk to each other after the 1900 hrs skeds.

With Chef Maria off station for five days for some R&R, a number of our team volunteered to take over her role. Some appeared to be more comfortable with this than others but all those dining at Macca’s restaurant returned each night. We obviously didn’t have too many upset stomachs.


Another active social week has kept everyone busy. Card games of 500 every evening, a night out at the movies, numerous trips in the field to see Lusitania Bay’s king penguin colony before that area is closed off, a Sunday game of soccer and the lunch time ‘trivia quiz’, read from the paper, keeps everyone on their toes.  And of course, the weekly gathering of the brewing team where a small number of bottles are brewed, filled and placed on the shelves for those special occasions.

Moments in time


19th August : 9 rooms insulated and sealed with plastic, 6 rooms undercoated on other side of the hall.  I’m finding XX annoying, if he acted like he’s acting here, most people leave home to get away from that type of whinging — a good worker BUT drive you stark raving bloody mad if you let him.

Had YY in my room for a discussion after the movies and found the problem to be personal worries at home with children and finances, talked for a while and I feel have enlisted his aid to finish the year off.


13th August : Bob J is at Green Gorge and intends travelling to Sandy Bay via the Biggles Bypass tomorrow. Another small leopard seal on the beach but he denied all attempts to tag him. Bob had another cat escape from a trap when the door was slightly open. There are many cat tacks on the isthmus at the moment. But trapping has not been very successful.


August 17th : temperatures above zero and the melt has started. Dinner was ‘take-aways’ souvlaki, hamburgers, chips — good. The midwinter video was shown after dinner (unlikely to win any academy awards). Commenced APPI interviews for those going into the field tomorrow.

Macca wildlife

Macca scenery