The counting never seems to stop here on Macca, be it seals, petrels, or skuas! We are closely monitoring the station population for cases of clicker counters becoming fused onto the fingers of both rangers and expeditioner volunteers, and remain vigilant for index finger fatigue injuries. Our most recent counting task was the skua census. The census team returned home to station on Friday after successfully completing their work throughout the previous week. They covered a lot of ground and had some challenging weather to deal with as well. Check out Ranger Anna’s full report.
Over the weekend, we celebrated Saturday evening with a delicious dinner, and the chance to ‘frock up’ or ‘don a collar’ if we so chose. Duck, steaks, and sweet potato pie were appreciated by all, and after enjoying dessert many sat late into the evening, revelling in the opportunity to relax in the mess and chat.
On Sunday morning Ranger Andrea led a trip into Aerial Cove on the west coast of North Head to take advantage of the last day of the specially managed area (SMA) being open to collect marine debris. Strangely no debris had accumulated on the beaches, and the larger items that had been sighted from the plateau prior to the big storm were now absent. Whilst being disappointed on the treasure hunting front, the wildlife provided us a treat. A few fur seals had small pups, and sprightly rockhopper penguins were gathered on the rock stacks around Catch Me Point.
Alex and Psycho returned mid week after being in the field for the last couple of weeks. Alex is only here on Macca for one month and has had an enormous project work plan to achieve. He has covered over 400 km on foot, including 19 km of vertical ascent, in this most recent trip traversing the island to undertake survey work at every centroid of the Macca 1:50,000 map grid. Field training officer, Psycho, has been working in the southern part of the island on the steep slopes with our albatross project team.
On Sunday we attempted a boating trip to Hurd Point, the most southern hut on the island. We had cargo to deliver for the albatross team, which was too heavy to take in on foot. A day of light winds presented itself on Saturday so we made a trip plan, assembled crew and headed off with three IRBs forming our flotilla. We had an uneventful journey down south, however upon arriving at Hurd Point itself, aborted the landing on account of some confused sea conditions resulting from swells and currents. We dropped the cargo off at Waterfall Bay instead, along with Dan and Marion who opportunistically caught a ride, as they were about to head off to Hurd Point on foot on Saturday morning anyway. The trip gave us a picturesque view of the growing penguin colonies at Lusitania Bay, and indeed along the entire east coast.
Back on station, we participated in an all-station fire exercise, the first of the season for many of our newer expeditioners. Our BA team performed brilliantly, and all those who presented at muster in an organised fashion were soon delegated small jobs to assist in the response.
Terry E celebrated his birthday on Tuesday, with a roast chicken dinner and, a delicious apricot and almond meringue replica of the Snowy Mountains and a back country ski hut, prepared by Jimmy. Happy Birthday Terry!
Excitement is building on station for the arrival of our first tourist ship. Ranger Paul held the volunteer inductions during the week, along with a slideshow to give us all an idea of how tourist operations will unfold. Armed with new name badges we are now ready to embrace our guiding duties. Talk of tourist ships however is also bitter sweet, with our wintering Ranger in Charge, the lovely Andrea Turbett, climbing aboard to head home. She will be kept company by Psycho and Alex as the island slips from view. (Although we are also pretty sure that she will be adequately comforted by the spectacle of other subantarctic islands on the trip to New Zealand, before flying back to Hobart, Tasmania.)