Wednesday, 12 March 2014

King Penguins

It has been quite a while since my last post on Albatross  It has been a busy time here on this magnificent island. We have had 13 tourist vessels visit Macquarie Island over the summer. The reaction from the tourists who come ashore at the station, Sandy Bay or a viewing from zodiacs off Lusitania is always the same. They are astounded by the wildlife.

Previously I have inserted the following text…..

"The little island is one of the wonder spots of the world. It is the great focus of the seal and bird life in the Australian sub-Antarctic regions, and is consequently of greater significance and importance in the economy of that great area than its small dimensions suggest"       Sir Douglas Mawson, 1919

As my time on the island is coming to an end, I will endeavour to complete some posts on the wildlife - starting with the King penguin

King penguins at Sandy Bay approximately 8 km south of the station on the East Coast

Friday, 17 January 2014


     "A good south wind sprung up behind: The Albatross did follow"
                                              (From the Rime of The Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

There is nothing more special then to see a wandering albatross in effortless flight. On all voyages that I have been on the Aurora Australis, there has been albatross flying around and with the ship. I have spent so much time on the decks watching these magnificent birds.

They have the greatest wingspan of any bird - up to 3.4 metres (12ft ) - get a measuring tape and see how large that is). They can glide with the ocean winds for hours at a time without flapping their wings.
On the AA some followed us for days.

A couple of weeks ago, while on a boating trip down the east coast, their were a number of black browed albatross that flew silently over the calm ocean.

Black browed albatross just off Landing Beach (photo - Barend Becker)

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Orca encounter

Welcome back after the Christmas and New Year break. It has been an amazing few weeks here on Macquarie Island.

One of the many spectacular sights on the island is that of a killer whale (Orincus orca), commonly know as an orca. 

Just a couple of days ago I was on field trip (another story) with Clive (the doctor). We were walking back to station from Brothers Point hut, where we had spent the night. We walked along the east coast, sometimes on a grey/black sandy beach, then at other times over larger rocks and pebbles. Some parts of the route along the east coast are along some very rugged coast, usually the extension of a ridge off the escarpment right up to the waters edge.

It was as we were scrambling over some large boulders that we happened to glance out to sea. About 50 metres offshore a large dorsal fin broke through the crystal clear water.

Large male orca seen off the east coast on Monday the 7th of January 2014

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The summer season has begun

"This little island is one of the wonder spots of the world. It is the great focus of the seal and bird life in the Australasian sub-Antarcti regions, and is consequently of far greater significance and importance in the economy of that great area then its small dimensions suggest."

Sir Douglas Mawson 1919

Its been quite a while since my last post. We have been very busy here, with many ships visiting our shores and the arrival of a number of summer expeditioners to carry out important research on this wonderful bio-diverse island.

First of all I would Love to wish everyone a fantastic Christmas and festive season.

Have a Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year

Friday, 15 November 2013

Seven Days on an Island - Part 3

This is the third and final part of my amazing trip down island to the southern most hut at Hurd Point and then returning north back to station.

In the last post Seven Days on an Island - Part 2 Tony and I had arrived at Green Gorge after our walk from Waterfall Bay.

Arriving back at Green Gorge hut
It was still quite early, so after changing out of our wet gear, we had a relaxing time in the hut, enjoying the warmth of the small efficient heater and the comfort of dry clothes.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Seven Days on an Island - Part 2

In my last post - Seven Days on an Island Part 1 - we had journeyed the whole length of Macquarie Island, arriving at the comfortable and roomy Hurd Point hut.

Day 3 of our trip was a rest day at Hurd Point. After a hearty breakfast of toast (Tony baked a loaf of bread) we set off to explore our surroundings. Firstly I wandered around the beach just to the west of the hut. I couldn't believe the abundance and variety of wildlife.

Next door (just to the west) of the hut is a small royal penguin colony which provided a little noise overnight.

Small royal penguin colony right next door to the Hurd Point hut

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Seven Days on an Island - Part 1

Spring is here the island is coming alive with wildlife. Next week we also see the arrival of the first ship of the summer season. The L'Astrolabe is due here next Friday, bringing 15 extra people to the island. Some of the new arrivals are scientists who will be working down island during the summer.

This has meant that current expeditioners have been trying to find time to make it down island themselves, as it will be more difficult once the summer program starts.

I took the opportunity to walk down island. I organised a seven day break, the field trip plan had been submitted and approved, my position on the fire and ERT ( Emergency Response Team) had been covered.  Comms tech Tony had also been given approval, so we were set to go.

The following is a mostly photographic journal of the trip.

After filling out the details of our intentions on the fire board (in the mess) and the comms board, we set off just after 11am on the first leg of our journey. We had only got 300 metres down the track when I realised had dropped my lens cap, so I re-traced my steps, but couldn't find it. In my room I found a plastic bag and rubber band which would offer interim protection for my lens.

I returned to the track and then Tony and I were on our way again. First task - climb up Gadgets Gully.

Heading up Gadgets Gully - king penguins are coming in droves to moult and breed