Posts categorized as Birds

Antarctic blog #1 – Flying south

  • On the ground - or at least ice. The Ilyushin-76 on the Union Glacier blue-ice runway. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Ilyushin-76 jet about to land on Union Glacier. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • The Ilyushin cabin video screen showing sea-ice on the left and our southward progress near the base of the Antarctic Peninsula on the right. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • ANI staff try to make themselves comfortable alongside cargo inside the Ilyushin jet. Image: Colin Miskelly

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly visited Antarctica during November-December 2014 as a guest lecturer for Adventure Network International (ANI). Colin reached Antarctica via Punta Arenas in southern Chile. This is the first in a series of blogs based on his experiences in Antarctica, and particularly at the Gould Bay emperor penguin colony in… Read more »

Would you scramble into a ‘horrible hole’ to count bird chicks? How about counting the regurgitated remains of a meal? It’s all in a day’s work for Alan Tennyson, a Te Papa scientist studying broad-billed prions (pararā). Can you mimic a bird as well as Alan can mimic a prion? We dare you to try!… Read more »

Travels with Betsy – exploring the world of albatross personality

  • A discussion in the field hut around the days activities. Betsy was a keen contributor to how we developed our testing regime. Left to right: Research assistants Tim Poepart, Julien Collet and CNRS researcher Dr Samantha Patrick. Image: Susan Waugh; Copyright: Te Papa.
  • Samantha Patrick, CNRS research repairs Betsy after a particularly intense interaction with a 'bold' albatross. Image: Susan Waugh; Copyright: Te Papa.
  • A birds with a more 'bold' response to meeting Betsy, clacks its bill and grumbles as Betsy is pulled away. Image: Susan Waugh. Copyright: Te Papa.
  • Research assistant Julien Collet presents Betsy to an unsuspecting albatross on the nest. Photo: Susan Waugh. Copyright: Te Papa.

Do albatrosses have personalities? And if so, how do scientists measure such intangible characteristics? This blog provides some of the background to research Te Papa scientists were involved in, examining how birds use their environment, and how individual personality traits of these birds can be measured. The previous blogs on this topic can be accessed here…. Read more »

Westland Petrels weathering the storm…mostly!

  • Tree fallen in the Westland Petrel colony showing a petrel burrow inspection lid (white object 1/2 buried in the ground) amongst the uprooted roots of the tree. Image Susan Waugh, Copyright Te Papa.
  • Viewed from the screen of the burrow-scope we get a clear view of the petrel chick inside the burrow. Image: Susan Waugh. Copyright Te Papa.
  • A classic sign of petrel activity in the mud-stone of Westland's Punakaiki coast. Birds climbing up the steep terrain make claw-marks in the soft substrate. This bedrock also proves a slippery base for the overlying topsoil, which has slipped off in large areas in and around the Westland Petrel colonies monitored by Te Papa researchers in 2014. Image: Susan Waugh, Copyright Te Papa.
  • A juvenile Westland petrel. We banded all young birds at the study colony, to track their survival to recruitment to the breeding population in 4-5 years time. Image: Susan Waugh, Copyright, Te Papa.

New Zealand has an amazing diversity of seabirds. Around 1/3 of the worlds 348 species are found in New Zealand waters, with a high number of endemic and threatened species among them. Te Papa has a long-term research programme on Westland Petrels, a species that nests in the coastal cliffs near Punakaiki, on the West… Read more »