Posts written by Colin Miskelly

Cap Cotter and the macaroni penguins

  • Macaroni penguins, Cap Cotter, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Wandering albatrosses displaying, Cap Cotter, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Kerguelen shag, Cap Cotter, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Royal penguin, Cap Cotter, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

The name ‘macaroni’ to most people means short, curved tubes of hollow pasta, or they may have recollections of Yankee Doodle Dandy sticking a feather in his cap. However, bird enthusiasts associate the name with one of the larger species of crested penguin that breeds at remote sites in the South Atlantic and southern Indian… Read more »

Port aux Français

  • Amorous young male elephant seal, Port aux Français, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Kerguelen shags, Port aux Français, Kerguelen Islands (from left to right: adult, juvenile, immature). Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Male Eaton’s pintail, Port aux Français, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Kerguelen shags, Port aux Français, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

We sailed into the Golfe du Morbihan at dawn on a cold, grey, drizzly day. The dozens of islands (including Mayes and Cochons that we will visit) were to port, and a flat, featureless land to starboard. The TAAF base (Port aux Français, PAF) is a scatter of about three dozen buildings, some old and… Read more »

Arrival at Iles Kerguelen

  • Squirrel with Igloo hut, Isles Kerguelen. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Antarctic prion, Kerguelen Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Squirrel helicopter and Mont Ross, Isles Kerguelen. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Wandering albatross, southern Indian Ocean. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

Our passage from Crozet east to Kerguelen was uncharacteristically calm. For two days barely a white-cap was to be seen, and the sun set on a clear horizon, producing a vivid green flash as it disappeared. The conditions were ideal for whale spotting, but we saw very few until late on the third day, when… Read more »

Two days on Ile de la Possession, Crozet Islands

  • Courting wandering albatrosses, Isle de la Possession, Crozet Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Gentoo penguin greeting display, Isle de la Possession, Crozet Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Northern giant petrel chick, Isle de la Possession, Crozet Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • King penguin colony, Baie du Marin, Crozet Islands. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

The Crozet Islands are one of three subantarctic island groups in the southern Indian Ocean that together form the ‘Terres Australes’ of the Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises (TAAF). They are large islands (though much smaller than Kerguelen, which we visited next), with the two largest islands both exceeding 13,000 ha (in contrast, Campbell Island… Read more »

Laughing owl – long gone but not forgotten

  • new mount
  • egg
  • b&w
  • Huia

A couple of months ago I received an unlikely phone call from a gentleman asking whether Te Papa was interested in purchasing a laughing owl specimen. He then mentioned in passing that he had an egg also. The museum receives freshly dead or frozen bird specimens most weeks, but it is a rare event to… Read more »

Sir James Hector, Hector’s dolphin and Taniwhasaurus

  • The new species of Asplenium fern. Photograph by Leon Perrie, Te Papa
  • Dr James Hector, circa 1868, Wellington, by James Wrigglesworth. Purchased 1916. Te Papa (O.013163)
  • YCMW title 640px
  • Hector's dolphin. Image: Steve Dawson, New Zealand Dolphin Trust

Te Papa turned 150 years old on 8 December 2015. To celebrate 150 years since the opening of the Colonial Museum in Wellington, the exhibition ‘You Called Me What?! 150 years of scientific discovery at Te Papa’ will be open on Level 3 from late November 2015 until the end of 2016. The exhibition, and… Read more »

New Zealand Birds Online – 1 million hits

  • Google Analytics screen shot of NZ Birds Online visitation data, 09:08 am, 26 November 2016
  • Tui – the most viewed species on New Zealand Birds Online. Image: Tony Whitehead, NZ Birds Online
  • Magpie-lark - the most recent vagrant bird species to be added to the New Zealand list. Image: Sonja Ross, NZ Birds Online
  • Daily visits to NZ Birds Online - growing steadily and approaching 2,000 per day.

The website New Zealand Birds Online is a collaborative project between Te Papa, Birds New Zealand and the Department of Conservation. It was launched in June 2013, and use of the site has continued to grow since, with just over 1,900 visits to the site per day at present. The milestone of 1,000,000 visits to… Read more »

Speargrass weevils thriving on Mana Island

  • A Wellington speargrass weevil browses on an Aciphylla squarrosa leaf, Mana Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Speargrass (Aciphylla squarrosa) in flower, Mana Island, November 2015. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Feeding sign left by a Wellington speargrass weevil after browsing on an Aciphylla squarrosa flowerstalk, Mana Island, November 2015. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Aerial view of the west coast of Mana Island, January 2015. Speargrass weevils were released at the left-centre of the image, between the track and the cliff-top. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Weevils get a lot of bad press. A few species are serious crop pests or despoilers of cereal products, and they give the rest of the family a bad name. In New Zealand, a dozen or so weevil species and populations are recognised as being threatened with extinction, and Wellington speargrass weevils (Lyperobius huttoni) are… Read more »