So it was that time of the month where the rangers at Macca are looking for volunteers to help them go and pick up bits of marine debris at Bauer Bay. As I did not have any other plans for the weekend and having done the marine debris on my first trip out, I volunteered. The trip got better for me when helping Andrea conduct the monthly bird survey on the northern featherbed was included. The area for the bird survey is only open for a short period of time for travel in the middle of the year and, as part of the trip, we carried out some new track markers to identify key turning points in the track for other expeditioners to follow.
Andrea and I headed to Bauer Bay via the Island Lake track and having travelled it once thought I can carry the new fire extinguisher for the hut with us. After surviving several attempts by Andrea to relieve me of the 500g fire blanket we headed off. It turned out that my field famil trip had been perfect training for this one as the conditions were exactly the same. Foggy and windy! After an uneventful walk we made it to the hut and shed our packs. As I went and turned on the power it felt like my right shoulder felt lighter than my left. I couldn’t think of a reason why this would be as my pack was evenly weighted on both. Then it hit me. The wind on the entire walk was blowing into our right and so I had adjusted for it in my walk and only realised when in the shelter of the hut with my pack off. We settled in and awaited the arrival of the other willing debris collectors.
After a night of blustery winds, where some of us were wondering when the last time the roof had been checked, we were up and on the beach early to a beautiful still morning. After gathering a wayward collector we started our emu parade up and down the beach picking up what man made objects we could see. We collected a nice little pile and Andrea packaged it up ready for processing. After a quick hot drink we packed up, said our goodbyes to the other team, picked up our bundle of track markers and headed off to count birds. This could have proven troublesome (not for Andrea) as you should know the type of bird you are counting. Luckily for me most of the birds have left by now for other areas, leaving mostly giant petrels, so I could just count what I saw and let Andrea worry about the types.
A little into our walk it started snowing and settling on the ground quickly providing a beautiful white carpet for us to walk on. Because there are some boggy bits in the featherbeds this could prove tricky but it made the path easy to see and they stood out a little better because of the standing water melting the snow. We saw quite a few giant petrels, kelp gulls, Macquarie Island shags, terns and some ducks. We rounded Handspike point just as the sun came out for a great view of the station covered in snow. After a little more travel I left the last marker at the top of the beach at the entrance to the featherbeds and started thinking of the hot shower that awaited me.