A trip to band giant petrel chicks, and a new gym at Macca.

Banding northern giant petrel chicks

With a couple of days rostered off duty, an opportunity arose for me to tag along with the bird taggers of Macquarie Island, the albatross and giant petrel research project team of Kate and Jarrod, along with TASPAWS wildlife ranger Mike, to band northern giant petrel chicks. The morning was a usual Macca day, light to moderate rain was forecast and I slept in after a night shift at the weather office. I headed out early afternoon after being given the green light to access the Special Management Area by TASPAWS ranger in charge Chris.

I went along the Island Lake track in about 50 metres visibility in fog along the escarpment to Island Lake, then headed west to Langdon Bay along the coastal featherbed. The rain did hold off which was fantastic! After some radio chit chat I found the team having a break. After a briefing of what was required we split up and headed to the pre-marked nests using GPS units. The nests had been previously located in September by search teams looking for the birds sitting on their nests on the ground. I was to be a note keeper with Jarrod, recording information that included: position, identification, status of nest/chick, plumage and any extra relevant comments.

The young birds are currently surprisingly well grown at several months old. The process of tagging by the team was very professional, quick and had minimal disruption to the chicks. Over an afternoon and another morning, Jarrod and I were able to process many chicks and it was a real privilege to see the birds a little closer.

So why do we tag birds? Banding birds allows us to identify them, and is one of the main ways that researchers discover fundamental information about birds, such as their life-span and movements. The basic bird band is made of metal — usually aluminium, aluminium alloy or, often for larger birds, stainless steel. Each band has a unique number inscribed on it, and the contact details of the organisation to be notified when a band is found. The number also identifies when and where the bird was banded. Bands come in many sizes to fit a range of birds’ legs, from enormous albatrosses to tiny wrens. When a bird that has been banded is found again — sometimes years later or thousands of kilometres from its banding place — it is known as a ‘recovery’.

Thanks again to the ‘alby’ team, keep up the great work!

Keon Stevenson, Bureau of Meteorology officer in charge

A new (relocated) gym at Macca and farewell Graeme!

Until now, Macca had gym and aerobic exercise equipment spread over two building locations. The aerobic exercise equipment (running, rowing and cycling machines) shared an upstairs room in the multi-purpose building (MPB) with bunk beds used as overflow sleeping accommodation during peak resupply periods. The weights and anaerobic exercise equipment were in a separate gym behind the MPB.

Building services supervisor Graeme, a very keen gym user, suggested relocating all the gym equipment to the upstairs MPB room and moving the bunks to the separate room. This eminently sensible and workable suggestion was approved by our infrastructure masters at head office and is now near completion. It was one of Graeme’s last major projects, as he returned to Australia on tourist ship Silver Discoverer this week, having completed his contract.

Graeme was assisted by our new BSS Joe, summer carpenter Pat, communications technician Robert, electrician Paul and plumber Greg. As well as the benefit to gym users of having all equipment in one place, the overflow sleeping area in the separate building will now work better over resupply as well.

We farewelled Graeme last Saturday night. Chef Benny prepared a cake depicting a suitably ‘ripped’ Graeme showing the obvious benefits of his enthusiastic gym use! 

A few more bits and pieces

Please enjoy some snapshots from this week at Macca.