Posts categorized as Biodiversity

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 »

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 »

Living life on the edge – plants of screes

Notothlaspi australe, Parachute Rock track, Lake Rotoiti.  Photo: Lara Shepherd.

Looking at the photos below, you wouldn’t expect these unstable rockslides, called screes, to be home to anything. But take the time to look a little closer and you’ll find a number of native New Zealand plants that have adapted to living in just such seemingly inhospitable environments. In early January I spent a week… 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 »

Antarctic blog #3 – Camping with emperors

  • Reflection on an iceberg soiree. Staff and guests are reflected in the author's snow goggles. Image courtesy of Susan Ellcome
  • Emperor penguin chicks huddle during the cold of 'night', Gould Bay, November 2014. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • An emperor penguin broods its chick, Gould Bay, November 2014. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Part of the Gould Bay emperor penguin colony, November 2014. Image: Colin Miskelly

Emperor penguins are penguins of superlatives – largest, deepest diving, able-to-withstand-the-coldest-temperatures etc. But one rarely-mentioned fact is that they are the most curious penguin, as in possessing the strongest innate curiosity. This year’s ‘Emp camp’ at Gould Bay was established 2.3 km from the nearest corner of the colony, to reduce disturbance to the birds… Read more »

Travels with Betsy – the zine!

Download Travels with Betsy zine

During December 2014, artist and designer Kerry-Ann Lee ran workshops at Te Papa to teach the art of ‘zine-making’. Zines are a sort of hand-crafted vehicle for the ideas and imagination of writers and artists. Working with a local designer, Vera Padhila, and with the story of our recent work profiling the scientific research programme… Read more »

There’s a vagrant in our bath

I went back later that day and took a better photo. Sadly Mr Vagrant passed away the next day when my flatmate ran a bath R.I.P. 18/12/14, Photograph by Jonathon Kelso.
Photograph taken for work purposes

My role at Te Papa revolves around creating opportunities for our visitors to engage with Te Papa content. I was part of the team that developed the DeClassified exhibition, which you can check out on level 3 at Te Papa. This exhibition has an additional interpretive layer which enables people to contribute data to scientific discoveries… Read more »