Posts written by Colin Miskelly

The petrels of Ile Mayes, Iles Kerguelen

  • Common diving petrel with leg-mounted GLS tag. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Blue petrel chick, Ile Mayes. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Thin-billed prion, Ile Mayes. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • White-chinned petrel, Ile Mayes. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

Isles Kerguelen harbour an astonishing diversity and abundance of seabirds, with 33 breeding species. We had seen breeding colonies of several of the larger species on Grand Terre, but Mayes provided a taste of what the islands would have been like before their discovery – and the introduction of cats, rats and rabbits in particular…. Read more »

A week on Ile Mayes, Iles Kerguelen

  • Commerson's dolphin
  • Mayes hut
  • Aymeric & Charly in hut
  • Light-mantled sooty albatrosses, Ile Mayes. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa

After 36 hours at Port aux Français, it was time for Charly Bost and me to head into the field again. We were accompanied by Aymeric Fromant, another IPEV ‘VSC’ (Volontaire Service Civique) volunteer. There are a dozen such ‘volunteers’ on Kerguelen each year, with two (Côme Rebaudet and Aymeric Fromant in 2016) focused on… Read more »

Christmas among macaroni penguins

  • Macaroni penguin with GPS logger attached. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Mont Campbell Pringlea. Image by Colin Miskelly, copyright IPEV/Te Papa
  • Charly Bost, Colin Miskelly and Côme Rebaudet at the summit of Mont Campbell. Image by Charly Bost, copyright IPEV
  • Christmas eve at Cap Cotter. Image by Charly Bost, copyright IPEV

The reason for our visit to Cap Cotter was to continue Charly Bost’s long-term studies of the macaroni penguins. During our 1-week stay we undertook five separate projects, beginning with attaching GPS loggers and dive time/depth recorders to eight breeding females. Like most crested penguins, macaroni penguins are highly synchronous breeders. In late December most… Read more »

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 »