Posts written by Colin Miskelly

The petrels of Dusky Sound

  • broad-billed-prion-adult
  • Broad-billed prion chick, Seal Islands, Dusky Sound, November 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Mottled petrel in spotlight beam, Dusky Sound, November 2016. Image: Jean-Claude Stahl
  • Mottled petrel, Dusky Sound, November 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Have you ever wondered which New Zealand bird was the first to be given a published scientific name? The unlikely answer is the broad-billed prion, named as ‘Procellaria vittata’ by a 22-year-old Georg Forster in 1777. The second species was the little penguin (as ‘Aptenodytes minor’) named by Georg’s father, Reinhold Forster, four years later…. Read more »

Dusky Sound – rich in history and wildlife

  • Mottled petrel, Dusky Sound, November 2016. Image: Jean-Claude Stahl, Te Papa
  • Flax weevil (Anagotus fairburni), Dusky Sound, November 2016. Image: Jean-Claude Stahl, Te Papa
  • Adult tawaki / Fiordland crested penguin, Dusky Sound, November 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Kakapo on Anchor Island, November 2016. Image: Jean-Claude Stahl, Te Papa

A team of Te Papa scientists recently visited Dusky Sound as the first stage in an investigation of changes in biodiversity since Cook’s visit in 1773. Cook named the area ‘Dusky Bay’ when he sailed past on his first voyage in March 1770, and explored the sound and its wildlife more thoroughly during a 6-week… Read more »

Cuckoos, toxic caterpillars, citizen science, and cinerarias

  • Shining cuckoo in gum-tree. Image: Rob Lynch, New Zealand Birds Online
  • Juvenile shining cuckoo with monarch caterpillar, Upper Moutere. Image: Anna Barnett, New Zealand Birds Online
  • Magpie moth caterpillar (Nyctemera annulata). Image: Gonzalo Avila, Plant & Food Research
  • Cinerarias. Image: Colin Miskelly, New Zealand Birds Online

Cuckoos are well-known for eating spiky and poisonous foods, but did you know they can eat toxic monarch caterpillars? Shining cuckoo The pure, whistling call of the shining cuckoo is New Zealand’s harbinger of spring. This small cuckoo is one of our few migratory landbirds, spending the winter on tropical islands east of Papua New Guinea,… Read more »

Critters of Taumaka (Open Bay Islands)

  • Taumaka skink (Oligosoma taumakae) on Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Red admiral butterfly (Vanessa gonerilla) on Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Red admiral butterfly (Vanessa gonerilla) on Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Taumaka gecko (Mokopirirakau undescribed species) on Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Taumaka is a 20 ha Māori-owned island lying about 4 km off the South Westland coast. Our visit to the island last month was to track foraging trips of breeding tawaki / Fiordland crested penguins, and was undertaken with the permission and support of the Taumaka me Popotai Trust. The island has a large New… Read more »

Life through a burrowscope lens (Part 7) – subterranean Taumaka (Open Bay Islands)

  • A fairy prion on its nest, as seen through a burrowscope, Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A little penguin on its nest (eggs concealed), as seen through a burrowscope, Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A fur seal pup as seen through a burrowscope, Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A tawaki incubating its two eggs, as seen through a burrowscope, Taumaka, September 2016. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

A Te Papa research team visited Taumaka, 4 km off the South Westland coast last month as part of a project investigating why some New Zealand seabirds breed in winter. Our focus while on Taumaka was tawaki / Fiordland crested penguin and korora / little penguin, and was undertaken with the permission of Taumaka me… Read more »

Clive Roberts and one tiny iota fish

  • Yellowtail triplefin (Matanui profundum). Image: Te Papa
  • Clive Roberts during a Chatham Islands fish survey, c.1994. Image: Te Papa
  • Thalasseleotris iota, Mokohinau Islands. Image: Kendall Clements
  • Roberts’ eelpout (Seleniolycus robertsi), Ross Dependency. Image: Andrew Stewart, Te Papa

Clive Roberts is a fish biologist who joined the National Museum in 1990, shortly before it evolved into Te Papa. He has particular interests in the identification and distribution of New Zealand fishes within the wider Pacific region. This has included surveys of deep reefs, oceanic ridges and seamounts, and cataloguing the diversity of deep-sea… Read more »

Pat Brownsey and the cave-dwelling spleenwort

  • Cave spleenwort (Asplenium cimmeriorum). Image: Leon Perrie, Te Papa
  • Pat Brownsey. Research Fellow at Te Papa. Photo Norm Heke. © Te Papa.
  • Poor Knights spleenwort, Tatua Peak, Aorangi, Poor Knights Islands. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Pat Brownsey and Antony Kusabs searching for mosses in a vineyard (yeah right). Waipukurau Bryophyte Foray, December 2011. Image: Leon Perrie, Te Papa

Pat Brownsey is a fern specialist who joined the National Museum (now Te Papa) botany team in 1977, and is still finding fern mysteries to solve. Pat moved to New Zealand in 1973 after completing a PhD on ferns at the University of Leeds. The abundance and diversity of ferns in Aotearoa has kept him… Read more »

Bruce Marshall and the volcanic vent mussel

  • Bathyxylophila excelsa holotype. North-east of Mernoo Bank, Chatham Rise; Te Papa M.075126. Te Papa image MA_I033908
  • A 19-year-old Bruce Marshall collecting fossil molluscs from the classic roadside fossil locality at Te Piki, between Whangaparaoa and Hicks Bay, in 1967. Image: Graham Spence, courtesy of Bruce Marshall, Te Papa
  • Bed of living Vulcanidas insolatus covered in bacteria, photographed in sunlight (submersible lights off ) at 140 m on the summit of the Giggenbach volcano. Image: Terry Kirby, taken during PiscesV dive P5–618 on 15 April 2005; reproduced courtesy
of Cornel de Ronde, GNS Science.
  • Scissurella marshalli holotype. Three Kings Islands, reef between Great Island & Farmer Rocks; Te Papa M.093992. Te Papa image MA_I052178

Bruce Marshall is a self-taught malacologist (shell expert) who has worked at Te Papa, and the previous National Museum, since 1976. As collection manager of molluscs, Bruce is responsible for a vast collection of several million specimens representing more than 4,700 New Zealand species. These range in size from tiny snails 0.48 mm in length… Read more »