Ranger update, medical training, pest eradication, station social activities and even more adorable animal photos this week at Macca!

An update from Macca’s ranger in charge

Life as the ranger in charge on Macquarie Island is a pretty cool job. The views are stunning, station life is fun, the huts which are spread out across the island are more than comfortable and boast some of the most spectacular views ever to be seen and then there’s the wildlife.  Richard Dakin, ranger in charge, writes about one of the many bird species on the island.

Everything you’ve been asking about the Grey Petrel, and more

The grey petrel breeds on cool temperate and sub-antarctic islands during the winter and is listed as endangered in Tasmanian State Legislation.  Grey petrels were first reported breeding on Macquarie Island in 1900 however there was a long absence of any subsequent reported breeding evidence over the next eighty years.

In 1999, coinciding with the final stages of the successful cat eradication program, three new breeding burrows were discovered. 

Since 1999, considerable effort has gone into identifying breeding locations around the Island and in 2011 there were over 150 active grey petrel burrows monitored.  Parks rangers monitor nests using observations, calls, cameras and torches over the winter/spring to determine breeding success and new colonies around the island. 

Richard also received an email from one of his colleagues from Tasmania this week with the news a ‘banded’ Grey-headed albatross (thalassarche chrysostoma) was found deceased on Kangaroo Island. The albatross band provided some interesting information :  

The time between banding and recovery is 22 years 2 months 2 days. The bird had moved a distance of: 2650km with a bearing of 312 degrees.

Cause of death was unknown.

Medical training

Although our doctor is able to manage most of our medical care alone, in the event of a serious accident or illness there may be a need to perform surgery or other complex procedure.

To assist the doc, four station staff are trained as Lay Surgical Assistants over two weeks at the Royal Hobart Hospital, and last week was their first opportunity to refresh their skills and familiarise themselves with the operating theatre facility in our new home.

Below is Mel (doctor) supervising Andrew (BoM) as he places monitor leads on our ‘patient’, Ray (electrician). In the background others are preparing drugs for administration, preparing surgical instruments and other equipment ready for action.

We’ll be doing another exercise in a couple of weeks where the ‘patient’ is given a ‘general anaesthetic’ and ‘undergoes surgery’, all just for practice, though we make it as real as we can.

Macquarie Island pest eradication project

A tough life in a wonderful place

The MIPEP team, consisting of thirteen hunters and dog handlers are showing true colours as a hardy bunch, continuing daily and nightly searches of between 10-25kms looking for signs of rabbit activity.  Morale is high despite tough conditions and physical duress as new members increase fitness levels and learn the art of dodging wallows (elephant seal mud holes) icy slopes and extreme water traps.

The team spend 27 days a month in the field and return to station for 4 days, and then it’s a race for the showers, the spa, big steaks, fresh-ish fruit and vegetables, and a beer.

Social time

It’s amazing what a small team of station based expeditioners (13) find to do in their spare time. This week our social calendar consisted of the following :

1) Saturday night ‘special dinner'. Better than any food you’d find in a 5 Star restaurant.

2) An ‘any rules’ game of soccer in the Greenstore (Sunday)

3) Movie night (Sunday)

4) Mini series, ‘The Slap’ (Wednesday night)

5) State of Origin (Thursday night)

6) Every night : Four participating in card game ‘500', others: darts

7) Evening scheds — quiz question for all hut based MIPEP expeditioners

Weekly wildlife photos