Posts written by Colin Miskelly

Birds and mammals of Takapourewa / Stephens Island

  • A one-year-old male New Zealand falcon, Takapourewa, January 2015. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • A young fairy prion prepares for its first flight, Takapourewa, January 2015. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • One of the few surviving specimens of Lyall's wre, Takapourewa, c.1894. Image: Te Papa
  • A bull New Zealand fur seal, Takapourewa, January 2015. Image: Colin Miskelly

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly recently led a team that visited Takapourewa / Stephens Island Nature Reserve, to select and gather up 100 fairy prion chicks to move to Mana Island near Wellington. This is the fifth in a series of blogs about the project and the wildlife of Takapourewa. Entering the forest… Read more »

Insects of Takapourewa / Stephens Island

  • A ngaio weevil nibbles on a ngaio leaf at night on Takapourewa, January 2015. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A pair of Wellington tree weta on Takapourewa, January 2015 (male on left). Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A female Cook Strait giant weta on Takapourewa, January 2015. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Takapourewa / Stephens Island from the north, with the lighthouse in the foreground. January 2015. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly recently led a team that visited Takapourewa / Stephens Island Nature Reserve, to select and gather up 100 fairy prion chicks to move to Mana Island near Wellington. This is the fourth in a series of blogs about the project and the wildlife of Takapourewa. Takapourewa holds a… Read more »

A box of fluffy birds – the sequel. Fairy prion chicks fly from Mana Island

  • A fairy prion chick waits its turn in the feeding queue on Mana Island. Image courtesy of David Cornick
  • A fairy prion at sea. The chicks that flew from Mana Island in January-February 2015 are not expected back on land until at least 2018. Image: Les Feasey, NZ Birds Online
  • A fairy prion chick being hand-fed on Mana Island. Image courtesy of David Cornick
  • The burrow installation team hard at work, under the supervision of Helen Gummer (lower right), Mana Island, July 2014. Image courtesy of David Cornick

Fairy prions are small burrow-nesting seabirds that breed in large colonies on many islands around New Zealand. The largest colony (of about 1.8 million pairs) is on Takapourewa / Stephens Island in the western approaches to Cook Strait. As part of a project to restore the ecology of Mana Island (off the Wellington west coast),… Read more »

Antarctic blog #8 – The end of the world

  • The author reflected in the ceremonial South Pole marker. The marker is partially surrounded by the flags of the 12 original signatory nations to the Antarctic Treaty. The New Zealand flag is to my left. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, situated alongside the Geographic South Pole. US Antarctic Research Program staff gave us a brief tour of the base and described some of the research underway there. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Previous years' South Pole markers housed inside the USARP Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • The author standing beside the 2014 Geographic South Pole marker. Image: Colin Miskelly

For many people, Antarctica and the South Pole are synonymous. However, Antarctica refers to an entire continent, more than 6,000 km on its longest axis, while the Geographic South Pole is a specific point in the continent’s interior (i.e. the southern point of the axis around which the earth rotates). Most people who visit Antarctica… Read more »

Antarctic blog #5 – Running on thick ice

  • An inglorious end to the day. A Sno-Cat extracts our van from soft snow. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Two marathon runners grab a snack and drink at Checkpoint 1. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • An ANI staff member completes the first lap of the marathon. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • The 2014 Antarctic Ice Marathon runners leave the start line. Image: Colin Miskelly

Union Glacier camp was bulging at the seams in mid-November, with an Ilyushin delivering 54 marathon runners (2 of whom pulled out before the event), a few support staff and organisers, and a Chinese film crew. The annual Antarctic Ice Marathon has become big business, with all available places booked a year ahead – unless… Read more »

A box of fluffy birds – moving fairy prions from Takapourewa / Stephens Island to Mana Island

  • An aerial view of the artificial burrows (with wooden lids, at right of image) waiting to receive the 100 chicks on Mana Island. The caravan is used as shelter while feeding the chicks, with the team of FOMI volunteer feeders staying in accommodation about a kilometre away. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Fifty boxes containing 100 fairy prion chicks fill the cargo hold of the BK helicopter. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Colin Miskelly (left) and FOMI committee member and project manager Brian Bell weigh a fairy prion chick while making the final selection of which chicks to move. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A tuatara dropping on Takapourewa containing the webbed foot of a fairy prion chick. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly recently led a team that visited Takapourewa / Stephens Island Nature Reserve, to select and gather up 100 fairy prion chicks to move to Mana Island near Wellington. This is the first in a series of blogs about the project and the wildlife of Takapourewa. Over the past… Read more »

Antarctic blog #4 – The southernmost penguin colony

  • Adelie penguins nesting at Cape Royds, with Shackleton's hut at the lower left. Image courtesy of Peter Carey
  • Tourists visiting the southernmost penguin colony on the planet - the emperor penguin colony at Gould Bay. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Emperor penguins breeding on sea-ice at Gould Bay, south-eastern Weddell Sea. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Cape Crozier emperor penguin colony. Image courtesy of Gerald Kooyman

It is a long-established Antarctic fact that the southernmost penguin colony on the planet is at Cape Royds, on the west side of Ross Island, near McMurdo Station and Scott Base. Slightly anomalously, this is an Adélie penguin colony, being a few minutes further south than the ‘southernmost’ emperor penguin colony at Cape Crozier on… Read more »