Posts written by Colin Miskelly

The global penguin – Part 1. How a lone emperor ventured into superstardom

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  • Kapiti Beach

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly tells the first part of the unfolding story of the emperor penguin that went where none had gone before (at least in the age of digital media). An ordinary Tuesday morning. Logged on to the Te Papa server, downloading emails, waiting for the first caffeine jolt… Read more »

Surveying snipe on Putauhinu Island

  • Muttonbird islands from the north. Taukihepa (Big South Cape Island) on the left, Putauhinu Island on the right, Kaimohu in the foreground.
  • Adult South Island saddleback on Putauhinu Island.
  • James & Percy
  • Handheld Snares Island snipe on Putauhinu Island

Putauhinu Island is a 141 ha muttonbird island south-west of Stewart Island. The muttonbirders on Putauhinu have worked closely with the Department of Conservation (and its predecessor the New Zealand Wildlife Service) to restore the island’s ecology, including eradicating Pacific rats in 1995, and translocating and releasing South Island saddlebacks in 1974 & 1976, Codfish… Read more »

Magnificent petrels, and pina coladas on the beach

  • Water-logged campsite at Qwelrakrak
  • Qwelrakrak solfatara looking east towards Mota Lava
  • Manman, one of our guides from Lalngetak village
  • Vanuatu green tree skink Emoia sanfordi – a visitor to our camp

Two of Te Papa’s Natural Environment staff recently returned from two weeks seabird research in northern Vanuatu. Colin Miskelly (Curator Terrestrial Vertebrates) here recounts some of the adventures he had with Alan Tennyson (Curator Fossil Vertebrates) during early March 2011. Back in 2001 New Zealanders Mike Imber and Alan Tennyson proposed a new species of… Read more »

Nukuwaiata / Inner Chetwode Island – 1936 and 2011 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 2)

  • Camp Robin, January 2011. Reproduced courtesy of Colin Miskelly.
  • 1. Nukuwaiata (Inner Chetwode Island), with the outer Marlborough Sounds in the distance.
  • Left: Edgar Stead, Dot Stead and Roland Stead, possibly on Nukuwaiata in 1936 (when Roland was 13 years old). Right: Colin Miskelly, Kate McAlpine and Kieran Miskelly (age 13) on Nukuwaiata in 2011.
  • 2. The first and second forest geckos recorded from Nukuwaiata, January 2011

As part of a project to publish the wildlife diaries of Edgar Stead (see blog of 15 December 2010), I am revisiting some of the islands that Stead camped on during the period 1929-1947. The main focus is describing how the ecology of the islands has changed since Stead’s time. The visits also provide an… Read more »

A beak with a tale

Parakeet beaks found on Stephens Island. Photograph reproduced courtesy of Colin Miskelly

In December last year I was contacted by Department of Conservation staff on Stephens Island reporting that they had found a bone that looked like a parrot’s beak in their vegetable garden, and asking if I could help identify it.   Stephens Island Nature Reserve lies off the northern tip of D’Urville Island in the… Read more »

Taranga / Hen Island – 1933 and 2010 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 1)

  • 4. Tuatara, Hen Island, December 2010. Photo: Colin Miskelly.
  • 5. Rat-eaten Amborhytida tarangaensis snail, Hen Island, December 2010. Photo: Colin Miskelly.
  • 1. Roland Stead fishing in Dragon Mouth Cove, Hen Island, December 1933. Photo: Edgar Stead. Macmillan collection, 2001.59.381, Canterbury Museum. Permission of Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
  • 3. Pycroft’s petrel, Hen Island, December 2010. Photo: Colin Miskelly.

Edgar Stead (1881-1949) was a Canterbury naturalist famous (among other things) for exhuming the enormous Okarito blue whale skeleton now in Canterbury Museum, breeding the Ilam strain of rhododendrons and azaleas, and being an astute observer of New Zealand birds. His magnificent homestead ‘Ilam’ is now the Canterbury University staff club, and was the main… Read more »