Summer has arrived on Macca this week. We have been sweltering in +6°C temperatures with clear skies. New season fashion of shorts and t-shirts, sans merino base layer, has resulted in much exposure of alarmingly pale flesh. With single digit temperatures feeling like a heat wave, those heading back home on the next ship in late December, to an Aussie summer, are wondering how they will cope! We have revelled in light winds and beautiful sunshine for most of the week, with a little fog thrown in for good measure here and there. Despite the clear skies, all day high cloud seems to drift over the island as soon as the very limited darkness descends, smothering our hopes of a pre-Christmas aurora opportunity.
The station gentoo penguin chick crèche has moved from the front steps of the science building to an even less convenient location. They are now staging a sit in on the road which links the north-south station buildings. (A view of which should be possible on the webcam). A small team is required to gently persuade the awkward fluffy chicks to clear the area in front of the balloon building so that Bureau of Meteorology staff can release their balloons twice a day on the road. The slapstick antics of these awkward little creatures provides endless entertainment to all who pass by.
The first Macca poker night of the season was held on Saturday, following a delicious steak dinner. Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) observer Dan emerged victorious (perhaps on account of hiding his poker face behind his luxurious beard), while ranger Anna, on her second game of poker ever, was runner up.
A boating party headed off station to both Brothers Point and Green Gorge early on Saturday morning, to deliver critical cargo (and new pillows) to both huts. We made an early start taking advantage of a flat, almost windless morning. After stopping at the Nuggets for a quick chat, we were visited again by our resident orca pod, sending many diving for cameras. The pod travelled with us down to Brothers Point, to a cacophony of whoops, squeals and cheers from excited boat crew.
Station is now getting into the swing of Christmas planning. We are looking forward to a special day for the community, with everyone bringing along a little of their own idea of how to celebrate together here in the subantarctic. The resultant mash up will no doubt be wholly unique, regardless of the form it takes.
The parties based out in the field are dashing around trying to wrap up their work down island before Christmas. The Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife ranger team are undertaking an Antarctic tern census across the whole island. Team albatross has one last walk down south and back to finish off before taking a well earned rest. Mel continues with invertebrate sampling for which the light winds have been a blessing. Margi, Kate and Ian are also taking advantage of the amazing weather and are hoping to squeeze in one last overnight camp out up on Pyramid Peak before walking home.
On behalf of Macquarie Island station, we wish station news followers a safe and relaxing holiday period. We have enjoyed sharing our life here on station so far this year and we look forward to bringing you more insights and adventures from the beautiful ‘Green Sponge’ into 2016.