Posts written by Colin Miskelly

The mystery of the giant hoho weevils of Rangatira Island

  • Hadramphus weevil on hoho trunk at night, Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • Coxella speargrasses in the Department of Conservation nursery at Te One, Chatham Island. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • Map of Rangatira Island showing locations where blog images were taken. S = weevils feeding on speargrass, H1 = hoho tree near the hut, H2 = weevil site on summit track, H3 = weevil site in Kokopu Creek catchment.
  • Coxella weevil (Hadramphus spinipennis) feeding on coxella (Aciphylla dieffenbachii) at night, Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly

Te Papa curator Colin Miskelly has recently returned from volunteering for the Department of Conservation on the Chatham Islands. His inordinate fondness for weevils led to some new discoveries about one of Rangatira Island’s more cryptic yet spectacular inhabitants. The coxella weevil Hadramphus spinipennis was one of the 50 or so Chatham Island insects discovered… Read more »

Giant spiders and other critters of Rangatira Island, Chatham Islands

  • Slightly smaller and more brightly coloured than the female, a male Rangatira spider hunts on a mahoe trunk at night, Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • A male Geodorcus capito stag beetle. Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • Chatham Island skink Oligosoma nigriplantare. Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • Subantarctic fur seal Arctocephalus tropicalis. Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly

Rangatira Island is best known as a refuge for rare birds, but it is also home to a spectacular variety of flightless insects, giant spiders, lizards, and seals. Te Papa natural environment curator Colin Miskelly recently spent a month on the island as a volunteer for the Department of Conservation. The team was mainly focussed… Read more »

The petrels of Rangatira Island, Chatham Islands

  • Innocent until proven. A broad-billed prion on Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • A white-faced storm petrel fledgling climbing a tree in preparation for its first flights, Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • A broad-billed prion at its burrow entrance, Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • A downy black-winged petrel chick left unguarded on Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly

Rangatira Island is world famous for its immense seabird colonies. Te Papa bird expert Colin Miskelly recently took leave to join a Department of Conservation team focussed on black robin and Chatham petrel recovery programmes on the island. Much of the Chatham petrel work was undertaken at night, providing an opportunity to observe related species… Read more »

The littlest snipe

  • An adult Chatham Island snipe presenting a food item to its snippet, Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • A newly-hatched Chatham Island snippet, Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • Chatham Island snipe nest, Rangatira Island, March 2018. Two eggs is the typical clutch size. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • A Chatham Island snipe foraging with its bill deep in the soil, Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly

Te Papa bird expert Colin Miskelly first visited Rangatira Island Nature Reserve in the Chatham Islands as an undergraduate student studying snipe in 1983. He recently returned to the island as a volunteer for the Department of Conservation, and was delighted to renew acquaintance with one of his favourite birds. The first Chatham Island snipe… Read more »

Furtive fauna of the Auckland Islands

  • White-headed petrel chick, Disappointment Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • An endemic Auckland Island weta (Dendroplectron aucklandense) on Ewing Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • A pair of weevil Oclandius laeviusculus weevils mating on an Anisotome latifolia flower head at night on Disappointment Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • A lesser fulmar prion fledgling prepares for its first flight at night on Disappointment Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa

Sea lions, albatrosses, and penguins usually grab the attention of visitors to the remote Auckland Islands south of New Zealand. But when Te Papa curators Colin Miskelly and Alan Tennyson explored the islands recently, they were focussed on species that are easily overlooked, and particularly those that come out after dark… The night shift The… Read more »

A sniper in the subantarctic

  • The Campbell Island snipe was discovered in 1997 and named (as Coenocorypha aucklandica perseverance) in 2010. Photo by Mary-Anne Lea, NZ Birds Online
  • Auckland Island snipe nest with 2 eggs, Disappointment Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Sea lion researchers assisting with snipe capture on Enderby Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Auckland Island snipe chick, Ewing Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa

Te Papa bird expert Colin Miskelly has recently returned from the subantarctic Auckland Islands, far south of Stewart Island. Here, he tells us about his ongoing research on a little-known bird that he’s been fixated with for the past 35 years. Subantarctic sniping The term sniper is derived from snipe hunting. The common snipe in… Read more »

Albatrosses and petrels of the Auckland Islands

  • A light-mantled sooty albatross chick at a site vulnerable to pigs and cats on the main Auckland Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • White-capped mollymawks on Disappointment Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • The Auckland Islands, showing sites included in the Te Papa seabird survey. Image derived from eBird records submitted by the team
  • An Antarctic prion on Ewing Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa

The remote Auckland Islands 370 km south of Stewart Island are tiny specks of land in the middle of a vast ocean. This makes them important breeding grounds for many species of seabirds and seals that forage in surrounding seas. Bird experts Colin Miskelly and Alan Tennyson visited the islands in late January, and here… Read more »

12,000 images on New Zealand Birds Online – with help from Hungary

  • Greylag gosling, Hortobágy, Hungary. Photo by Tamas Zeke, NZ Birds Online
  • Zsuzsanna Guba and Gabor Zeke become acquainted with a kea at Fox Glacier. Photo by Tamas Zeke
  • Bar-tailed godwits (kuaka) are familiar birds in New Zealand, but all our birds breed in Alaska, where this image was taken in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Photo by Keith Woodley, NZ Birds Online
  • The extinct North Island goose. Painting by Paul Martinson, NZ Birds Online
May 2006
Equipment: Cruse CS 185SL450 Synchron Light Scanner
Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CS 8.0

This file is property of Te Papa Press

The 12,000th image loaded on New Zealand Birds Online was of a cute fluffy baby goose, taken in Hungary. Bird expert Colin Miskelly explains how this image ended up on a New Zealand website. A broad church New Zealand Birds Online provides information on all bird species on the New Zealand list, regardless of whether they… Read more »

Wildlife highlights of Disappointment Island

  • Captive Auckland Island rail. Photograph by Rod Morris. Department of Conservation
  • Auckland Island snipe. Photograph by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Gibson’s albatross pair displaying, Disappointment Island (main Auckland Island in background). Photograph by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Colin Miskelly with a lesser fulmar prion chick extracted from a muddy burrow, Disappointment Island. Photograph by Kevin Parker. Parker Conservation

Bird expert Colin Miskelly recently joined an albatross research team on the rarely visited Disappointment Island in the subantarctic Auckland Islands. But he was on a separate mission to research the more secretive species on this misnamed gem of an island. An inappropriate name There are few places on the planet with more inappropriate names than… Read more »

Further flax weevil finds from farthest Fiordland

  • Flax weevil on Round Island, Preservation Inlet. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Southern Winds in Cascade Basin at the head of Long Sound. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Flax weevil larvae, Preservation Inlet, November 2017. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Sites where flax weevil feeding sign was noted in Chalky and Preservation Inlets in November 2017. Red arrows show islands where live flax weevils were found. Map based on NatureWatch sightings contributed by the Te Papa and DOC team.

Until 2016, flax weevils (large flightless protected beetles) were known from a single island in Fiordland. Recent surveys by Te Papa and Department of Conservation staff have now found evidence of them on a further 56 Fiordland islands. Here, Te Papa scientist Dr Colin Miskelly reports on the latest findings from remote southern Fiordland. What… Read more »