Posts written by Colin Miskelly

Critters of Titi Island Nature Reserve, Marlborough Sounds

  • The carnivorous snail Rhytida stephenensis on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Sarah Jamieson eyeballing one of several holes chewed through her bedroll by ground weta on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Ground weta (Hemiandrus sp.) on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Female Wellington tree weta (Hemideina crassidens) on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Titi Island is a 32-ha reserve administered by the Department of Conservation and situated in the outer Marlborough Sounds. The island’s fauna was impacted by introduced Norway rats until these were eradicated in the early 1970s. The island has since been free of all introduced predators. Two species of large flightless insects plus tuatara were… Read more »

Life through a burrowscope lens – subterranean Titi Island

  • Tuatara inside a burrow on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Little penguin inside a burrow on Titi Island.  Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Sooty shearwater inside a burrow on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Flesh-footed shearwater inside a burrow on Titi Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

By Sarah Jamieson & Colin Miskelly Over the past two (southern hemisphere) summers, Te Papa seabird researchers have been investigating population trends and foraging behaviour of flesh-footed shearwaters. These all-dark seabirds are well known to recreational fishers around the North Island and in Cook Strait, as the birds have the annoying habit of sitting behind… Read more »

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

  • A pair of yellow-eyed penguins on Ruapuke Island., December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Fernbird carrying insects to its young, Ruapuke Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • A pair of weka on Ruapuke Island, December 2012. Dark morph female on left, brown morph male on right. Images: Colin Miskelly
  • Ruapuke Island from the south-east, with Bluff Hill in the distance. Image: Colin Miskelly

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly is researching the life and work of the Canterbury naturalist Edgar Stead (1881-1949). This includes re-taking Stead’s photos from the same photo-point, taking other images to illustrate his diaries, and describing how the ecology and wildlife of each of 10 islands has changed since Stead’s visits…. Read more »

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

  • New Zealand fur seal cows and pups on Green Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Geckos (Woodworthia 'Otago large') on Green Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Fernbird photographed on Ruapuke Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Brown creeper on Green Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly is researching the life and work of the Canterbury naturalist Edgar Stead (1881-1949). This includes re-taking Stead’s photos from the same photo-point, taking other images to illustrate his diaries, and describing how the ecology and wildlife of each of 10 islands has changed since Stead’s visits…. Read more »

Hunting henriettas on Ruapuke Island – on the tail of New Zealand’s first mice

Henrietta Bay on the south coast of Ruapuke Island. The cannon is claimed to have come from the Elizabeth Henrietta. Photo: Colin Miskelly

Few people are aware of Ruapuke Island. Guarding the eastern approaches to Foveaux Strait, the 1600 ha island is large enough to appear as a smudge of colour at the very bottom of TV3’s weather map. Yet the island’s low relief means that passengers on the Stewart Island ferry 20 km to the west barely… Read more »

A gift of lizards – 35 years to completion

  • Te Papa’s reptile and frog collection is mainly comprised of specimens preserved in ethanol, housed in the purpose-built off-site Spirit Collection Area. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa.
  • Black-eyed gecko (Mokopirirakau kahuturae) holotype, ex Ecology Division collection. Te Papa specimen number RE.001817, collected by A.H. (Tony) Whitaker at Kahutara Saddle, Seaward Kaikoura Range, on 26 June 1970. Image: Te Papa
  • Whitaker’s skink (Oligosoma whitakeri) holotype, ex Ecology Division collection. Te Papa specimen number RE.001817, collected by A.H. (Tony) Whitaker on Middle Island, Mercury Islands, on 26 June 1970. Image: Te Papa
  • Te Papa’s reptile and frog collection is mainly comprised of specimens preserved in ethanol, housed in the purpose-built off-site Spirit Collection Area. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa.

The New Zealand science community was quite different in 1977 compared to 2012. Most government scientists then worked for one of the many divisions of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), our reserve networks and protected species were administered by multiple agencies, and the national museum was known as …the National Museum. All this… Read more »

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

  • A tangle of ongaonga (tree nettle) and pohuehue (Muehlenbeckia vine) on Jacky Lee Island, March 2012. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A brown creeper on Jacky Lee Island, March 2012. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A weka fossicking among tidewrack on the shoreline of Jacky Lee Island, March 2012. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • The landing bay on the south side of Jacky Lee Island in 1932 and 2012, viewed from near the hut site (the hut is now derelict). Top image: Edgar Stead photograph 2001.59.382, Macmillan collection, Canterbury Museum. Below photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly is researching the life and work of the Canterbury naturalist Edgar Stead (1881-1949). This includes re-taking Stead’s photos from the same photo-point, taking other images to illustrate his diaries, and describing how the ecology and wildlife of each of 10 islands has changed since Stead’s visits…. Read more »

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

  • A Snares Island snipe on Putauhinu Island in March 2012. Photo: Ray Moss
  • South Island snipe at its nest on the tops of Taukihepa, December 1931. Edgar Stead photograph 2010.75.158, Canterbury Museum
  • Putauhinu Island viewed from the summit of Taukihepa. Edgar Stead studied the now extinct South Island snipe breeding among the stunted manuka and inaka on the tops of Taukihepa in 1931. Snares Island snipe were successfully introduced to Putauhinu Island in 2005. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Rerewhakaupoko (Solomon Island) at rear, and Pukeweka Island viewed from the tops of Taukihepa (Big South Cape Island). Top image taken in 1931 (Edgar Stead photograph 2010.75.158, Canterbury Museum), lower image in 2012 (photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa). Stead and companions stayed in one of the cluster of huts near the south coast of Rerewhakaupoko.

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly is researching the life and work of the Canterbury naturalist Edgar Stead (1881-1949). This includes re-taking Stead’s photos from the same photo-point, taking other images to illustrate his diaries, and describing how the ecology and wildlife of each of 10 islands has changed since Stead’s visits…. Read more »