Posts categorized as Birds

Night Life on the Poor Knights Islands

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The Poor Knights Islands, northeast of Whangarei, are perhaps best known as a world-class diving location, but the life on land is no less astonishing and it really comes alive at night.  In December 2011, I assisted seabird expert Graeme Taylor with his work on the migration of Buller’s Shearwaters.  This species of petrel breeds… Read more »

Te Papa seabird researchers in the field

  • Flesh footed shearwater seen in its burrow with a burrowscope. Photograph by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa
  • Te Papa team landing at Titi Island Quarantine requirements mean packaging all food and gear into rat-proof boxes. Photograph by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa
  • Tuatara sourced from the Brothers were introduced to the island. Photograph by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa
  • Susan Waugh (right) and Simon Hayward (left) burrowscoping shearwater burrows at Titi Island. Photograph by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa

Te Papa researchers are studying wildlife populations in the field to find out about their diversity and behaviours, distribution and threats, with a programme of research on the shearwaters found nesting in New Zealand. We were privileged to visit Titi Island in the outer Pelorus Sound (Marlborough) for our summer field programme. Titi Island on Google maps … Read more »

One step forward after three steps back – slow progress with restoring populations of New Zealand seabirds

  • Colin Miskelly holding a fluttering shearwater chick, Mana Island, January 2012. Photo: Kate McAlpine & Colin Miskelly
  • Translocated fluttering shearwater chick being fed a sardine smoothy, Mana Island, January 2007. Photo: David Cornick
  • Diving petrels and fluttering shearwaters killed by the Rena oil spill, Bay of Plenty, October 2011. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • Diving petrels and fluttering shearwaters killed by the Rena oil spill, Bay of Plenty, October 2011. Photo: Colin Miskelly

2011 was a grim year for New Zealand seabirds. They suffered the triple-whammy of nuclear-fallout from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant affecting the North Pacific non-breeding grounds of at least four species, a severe winter storm that killed up to half a million prions, then the Rena oil spill believed to have killed several… Read more »

Whenua Hou / Codfish Island – 1934 and 2011 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 4)

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  • Location of Edgar Stead's 1934-35 campsite on Codfish Island (the end of Sealers Bay is visible at lower right). Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa, December 2011
  • Kakapo at night on Codfish Island. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa, December 2011
  • Codfish Island fernbird exiting nest among cocksfoot, Sealers Bay, Codfish Island. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa, December 2011

As part of a project to publish the wildlife diaries of Edgar Stead, 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 opportunity to take photographs to illustrate… Read more »

Riders of the storm – the severely depleted next generation

  • Broad-billed prion chick, Trig Island, Codfish Island, December 2011. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Trig Island, off the east coast of Codfish Island. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa, December 2011
  • Prions killed during the July 2011 storm event. Photo: Alan Tennyson, Te Papa
  • Fluttering shearwaters killed by the Rena oil spill. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

2011 was a terrible year for New Zealand seabirds. The Rena oil spill in October received the most media coverage and provided dramatic images (see Rena oil spill blogs). More insidious were the impacts of the Japanese earthquake and ensuing tsunami in March. A plume of radioactive fallout from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power… Read more »

Oilspill update

Red-billed gull oiled at Maketu. Photograph by and reproduced courtesy of Dominique Filippi

Dead oiled wildlife continues to be collected from Bay of Plenty beaches, and the Te Papa Natural Environment team has been assisting with the Wildlife Recovery Centres activities of documenting and recovering species affected by the oil. The species found oiled include the many birds which nest in the Bay of Plenty: most birds returned… Read more »

What bird is that? The grim task of identifying seabirds killed by the M.V. Rena oil spill

  • Cause and effect. Dead Buller's shearwaters spell the name of the Rena, with 2 northern giant petrels to the left, and rows of fluttering shearwaters and diving petrels above. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Karen and Lucy with oiled seabirds inside the pathology tent. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Colin Miskelly (Te Papa's Curator Terrestrial Vertebrates) with a heavily olied northern giant petrel. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Fluttering shearwaters coated in oil from the M.V. Rena. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa bird staff are providing expert assistance to Maritime New Zealand and Massey University veterinary staff in the form of identifying birds affected by the oil spill. Three current and one former staff member have been a ‘tag team’ since 12 October, identifying the hundreds of corpses recovered by the teams patrolling the beaches,… Read more »