Nukuwaiata / Inner Chetwode Island – 1936 and 2011 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 2)

As part of a project to publish the wildlife diaries of Edgar Stead (see blog of 15 December 2010), I am revisiting some of the islands that Stead camped on during the period 1929-1947. The main focus is describing how the ecology of the islands has changed since Stead’s time. The visits also provide an opportunity to take photographs to illustrate the diaries.

1.	Nukuwaiata (Inner Chetwode Island), with the outer Marlborough Sounds in the distance.

Nukuwaiata (Inner Chetwode Island), with the outer Marlborough Sounds in the distance. Photograph reproduced courtesy of Colin Miskelly.

Stead camped on Nukuwaiata, at the outer entrance to Pelorus Sound, with his wife and son, and companion Major Robert Wilson for 10 days in January 1936. Stead and Wilson had also previously visited in 1926.

2.	The first and second forest geckos recorded from Nukuwaiata, January 2011

The first and second forest geckos recorded from Nukuwaiata, January 2011. Reproduced courtesy of Colin Miskelly

We stayed on Nukuwaiata Nature Reserve (with permission from the Department of Conservation) for two nights in January 2011, and noticed some dramatic changes since my previous visit in April 1993. Pacific rats and weka (both introduced to the island) were eradicated by DOC later in 1993, allowing remnant lizard populations to recover. Stead noted “We saw no lizzards of any sort” in 1936, whereas we saw over 30 lizards of four species, including the first records of forest geckos from the island.

A young falcon checks out the photographer, January 2011

A young falcon checks out the photographer, January 2011. Reproduced courtesy of Colin Miskelly

Another dramatic change was that the 242 ha island’s bird population had recovered sufficiently to support a top predator. New Zealand falcons had recolonised, and a pair had successfully raised three young to the flying stage. These were curious about the new intruders on their domain, and occasionally broke off from their dogfights to check us out. 

Camp robin, January 2011. Reproduced courtesy of Colin Miskelly.

Camp robin, January 2011. Reproduced courtesy of Colin Miskelly.

One thing that had not changed was the tameness of the South Island robins. Stead wrote “Our most constant visitor is a cock bird…He sits on our coats and hats, on the billies or frypan, and even on the crossbar of the fireplace when the fire is on”.

Left: Edgar Stead, Dot Stead and Roland Stead, possibly on Nukuwaiata in 1936 (when Roland was 13 years old). Right: Colin Miskelly, Kate McAlpine and Kieran Miskelly (age 13) on Nukuwaiata in 2011. Right: Colin Miskelly, Kate McAlpine and Kieran Miskelly (age 13) on Nukuwaiata in 2011. Photo: Liam Miskelly.

Left: Edgar Stead, Dot Stead and Roland Stead, possibly on Nukuwaiata in 1936 (when Roland was 13 years old). Photo: Edgar Stead. Macmillan collection, 2001.59.381, Canterbury Museum. Permission of Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand must be obtained before any re-use of this image. Right: Colin Miskelly, Kate McAlpine and Kieran Miskelly (age 13) on Nukuwaiata in 2011. Photo: Liam Miskelly.

Other blogs in this series:

Taranga / Hen Island – 1933 and 2010 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 1)

Kundy Island – 1929 and 2011 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 3)

Whenua Hou / Codfish Island – 1934 and 2011 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 4)

Rerewhakaupoko / Solomon Island – 1931 and 2012 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 5)

Taukihepa / Big South Cape Island – 1931 and 2012 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 6)

Pukeokaoka / Jacky Lee Island – 1932 and 2012 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 7)

Green Island – 1941 and 2012 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 8)

Ruapuke Island – 1941 and 2012 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 9)

Western Chain, Snares Islands – 1929 and 2012 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 10)

 

Snares Islands –1947 and 2013 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 11)

 

By Colin Miskelly, Curator Terrestrial Vertebrates

 

 

 

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