Weather, walking and wildlife

Our Bureau of Meteorology technical officer got away for a short trip earlier this week

Macquarie Island is a stunning island in the southwestern Pacific ocean about halfway to Antarctica. The baby elephant seals, known as 'weaners', have now largely left our isthmus beaches near the station. The increase in real estate means we see more penguins in and around our space. These elephant seal babies, at 3 to 4 months old, have gone to sea to feed and no doubt some of our weaners will not return and those that do will be wiser and less inquisitive and cute as they grow wary and of course in size. This migration brought the other beautiful spectacle of Orca's cruising in close for a feed.

This week has seen plenty of cold wind and rain with the usual wind gusts and occasionally calm. Calm is not the norm so a good excuse to go for a walk if you are off duty. There are four of our 18 human residents off station this week, and I was the fifth person with a modest walk down the east coast to the hut known as Brothers Point returning the next morning via the overland track. The coastal walk was an outstanding walk amongst the wildlife. I encountered many seals and seal pups along the way taking care to give plenty of space on the beach. In one case climbing above the beach to get around a pair of sea lions.

There are plenty of older elephant seals basking and moulting, not just at the station but all down the coast. These who now dominate the beach are older, much heavier and not interested in approaching humans to see what we might be. Skuas on the other hand are most inquisitive and if you sit down they may approach you and in my case decide to attempt to steal the glove at my side that I removed to take some penguin photos.

The island is a marvel of wildlife. The birds, seals and penguins are abundant. The park here demands your attention for its scenery, wildlife and weather and its demanding walking tracks along sandy and rocky beaches or over hills and ranges through sun or wind, cloud and rain. Coming back to station and I noticed a New Zealand sea lion has moved into our compound so we take care returning to our accommodation from the mess.

My next outing may be on Australia Day with a chance to have a run or swim (well, dip a toe in any way). Opportunities are here but it is a research station, nature reserve and World Heritage Area which we are proud to be a part of as temporary residents and participants.

From Tony, the Bureau of Meteorology technician and your friendly neighbourhood Macca crew