I will write a longer trip report soon but this is just to say that the
Macquarie Island trip was a great success and that my Pelagidiphobia is
well and truly in under control.
The weather while we were at sea was wild, to say the least. The wind
howled in from the south-west on most days at about 35 knots with gusts
that exceeded 50 knots. On the worst (best?) day as we approached Macquarie
Island the little ship was rolling to 37º and the water was coming over the
bow in huge sheets. Spectacular stuff. The trip from Campbell Island to
Macquarie Is supposed to take about a day and a half but it took us two and
a half; the slowest crossing ever according to the crew. One interesting
aspect of the weather was that, except for one day, every time we got
ashore the wind dropped and the sun came out.
The wind made on-board birding very difficult but including the island
based birds such as penguins, snipe, cormorants, parrots etc I ended up
with a list of 73 species. As expected Macquarie was the best day as we
wandered in the sunshine and sat amongst thousands of Royal and King
Penguins, and sea-lion pups ambled over and sat in our laps. The rule was
that we were not allowed to approach the wildlife closer than 5 metres, but
they could approach us as close as they wanted; and we could not touch them
but they could touch us, if they wanted to. Not only did I have the
sea-lion pup in my lap but I had a skua trying to peck a hole in my gum
boot and a King Penguin trying to eat the lens cap off my camera.
The birding highlights are too many to go into now but they included close
encounters with Light-mantled Albatross, the Penguins (of course), a
Chatham Island Albatross (eremita) north of Macquarie Island as we headed
toward Hobart and some Broad-billed Prions just north of the Soela
seamounts in Aus waters south of Tasmania.
Photography at sea was very challenging. A lot of the time I was hanging on
to the ship with one hand and a leg wrapped around a railing while I tried
to keep the camera semi dry and aimed at the birds (I found that an English
Muffin wrapper with the end cut out and held in place with a red post
office issue rubber band is the perfect diameter and length to cover a
Canon 100 – 400 lens; smile). I will put some photos on the BOCA site over
the next few days.
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