Another visitor from afar, a grand opening and a walk on the plateau.

Unusual sooty tern sighting

The wildlife on Macca continues to amaze us! This week we had a very unusual sighting of a tropical seabird — the sooty tern. Two unusual terns were spotted flying over station on the night of 6 June but it was too misty to get a good enough look for identification of species. The following morning Ali, the senior Met observer, found a sooty tern on the road that runs past the buildings where weather observations are collected. Wildlife ranger Marcus approached the bird to identify the species, assess its health and move it out of harm’s way. The bird looked healthy but exhausted. Marcus moved the bird into the lee of a building and among the protection of some tussock. Sadly it didn’t make it through the night.

The next morning a second sooty tern was observed on the ground just behind the mess building. This individual seemed to have a small injury on its left wing but managed to fly away. We have not seen this individual again.

The sooty tern is a tropical species that is rarely seen south of New South Wales, Australia. We suspect these sooty terns were blown very far south of their range during a large storm that moved down the east coast of Australia in early June. Around the same time, a sighting of a sooty tern was also reported in Tasmania. These sightings have been reported to Bird Life Tasmania and will be published in the next Tasmanian Bird Report.

Wonder what will ‘tern’ up on Macca next week!

Marcus Salton

A short hike

This tale, unlike the epic journey of our young sparkie and his youthful companions, is about a casual stroll by one of our more senior station members. Being a registered postal officer, I, as well as some of you, know of the motto ‘through wind, rain and snow’ (or something along those lines). With rain falling I donned my backpack and headed off to a couple of the huts, not as the postie delivering mail but as the Building Services Supervisor (BSS) conducting annual asbestos inspections. I had planned to catch up with Ranger Chris, but the plan headed south as all the stock of track markers at Sandy Bay had been washed away by high tides backed up by a large shore dump. Crossing paths with Chris on his way back to station he warned of the kelp build up at the bottom of the steps at Sandy Bay.

After a restful night at Bauer Bay Hut enjoying the solitude and serenity, I headed across island to Sandy Bay to continue with the inspections. The asbestos at Bauer Bay Hut is well contained, signage adequate and minimal risk of exposure. Having experienced rain the previous day, now it was time to test the wind; the rain had left the track quite slippery in parts and with some of the wind gusts I sometimes found it tricky to maintain sound footing. Still, enjoying the serenity along the track, I took a slide and must admit had a good recovery, but I still managed to mutter some profanities. At this moment I appreciated travelling solo as taking a slide and cursing under one’s breath could be seen as stumbling, grumbling and mumbling, otherwise known as the mumbles: a recognised sign of exposure. Once recognised, fellow travellers will suggest going to ground for a rest, thus prolonging the journey. I've now decided if I take another slide and feel the urge to exclaim profanities I will do so clearly and with good pronunciation.

Arriving where the Sandy Bay steps meet the beach, I took heed of Chris’ warning about the kelp and carefully plotted my path to the beach for the final leg to the hut. Unfortunately it was high tide. Coming across a group of ele seals wallowing between the kelp and the shore break I had three route options.

  1. Across the top of the eles – frowned on by the rangers; would be a really stupid thing to do
  2. Along the beach trying to judge the shore break — I have a lot of experience with the surf and if my timing was off I could end up as a part of the eles or going for a swim
  3. So option 3 it was: through the kelp, how bad could it be? Thankfully it was only thigh deep…

After another restful night at the hut I headed off along the beach just after low tide, inspected the old Sandy Bay Hut and set track for the station. Having experienced rain and wind it was now time for snow. Hiking across the snow covered plateau with a mixture of sunshine and light snowflakes falling, one really gets to fully appreciate the serenity of Macquarie Island.

Joe Ahearn

Grand opening of Plumbers Nissen hut

A big weekend here on the Macca social calendar as Saturday night saw the Grand Opening of the newly renovated Plumbers’ Nissen hut (previously featured here in Macca Makeovers).

Now complete with a porch, lighting and heating, the occasion called for a ribbon to cut, the unveiling of a new name plaque: ‘Wiggins Plumbers Workshop', as well as a pig on a spit and celebratory darts in the new venue.

Contrary to our usual Saturday night dining rules, hi-vis clothing was compulsory and there was a ‘come as a plumber’ theme.

Thanks to all on station who have contributed to this renovation.

We might be able to get Glenn off station for a walk now…


In 2014, the Macquarie Island Pest Eradication Project (MIPEP) was declared a success with the complete eradication of rats, mice and rabbits from the island. Prior programs had got rid of introduced weka (a flightless bird from New Zealand) and cats.

Rats and mice came ashore in cargo during the early sealing era, and cats were considered a necessary addition to any voyage in the early years as they helped control rodents, as well as being pets. Rabbits and weka were introduced to Macca in the late 1800’s as an alternate food source for oiling teams. These animals were all well-established when ANARE expeditions commenced.

Our current biosecurity regulations are very strict to ensure no stray bugs or seeds get to the island and introduce anything new, however expeditioners once had a different relationship with the imported pests and some kept them as pets, passed on from year to year.

From 'Homer’s Odyssey', the Macquarie Island Magazine, 1970 (how things were done before the internet…):

On arrival at Macquarie Island in December of 1969 to commence duties for the 1970 season, we found we had inherited one budgie and one frog plus a few tropical fish. Sir Jasper, greatly loved budgie from previous expeditions immediately became a firm favourite with our party, due to his happy disposition at all times, and his comments on the movie nights with a few choice words. Unfortunately he contracted a disease and passed away in early April 1970 much to our sorrow, and I am sure the sorrow of many other expeditioners who had known poor old Jasper.

Gormay the Macquarie Island frog, who as the story goes, arrived with the compliments of a cabbage leaf and an ANARE crate, survives happily and well, enjoying the comforts of Macquarie Island and its delectable kelp flies. He I am sure, will remain for many years to come. Other pets include three pet Met rabbits and two Radio rabbits, a few cats and a mouse.

Peter Butcher

From the May Newsletter:

Peter Brandt has given away the idea of taming wild cats after getting really tangled up with one; he has decided wood carving is healthier.

From the July Newsletter:

We are very sorry to record the death of our little frog Gormay, perhaps from a surfeit of kelp flies. He was our keenest movie watcher and will be sadly missed.

These days we are completely pet-free.