Posts categorized as Conservation

The petrels of Rangatira Island, Chatham Islands

  • Innocent until proven. A broad-billed prion on Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • A white-faced storm petrel fledgling climbing a tree in preparation for its first flights, Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • A broad-billed prion at its burrow entrance, Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly
  • A downy black-winged petrel chick left unguarded on Rangatira Island, March 2018. Photo: Colin Miskelly

Rangatira Island is world famous for its immense seabird colonies. Te Papa bird expert Colin Miskelly recently took leave to join a Department of Conservation team focussed on black robin and Chatham petrel recovery programmes on the island. Much of the Chatham petrel work was undertaken at night, providing an opportunity to observe related species… Read more »

What happens when you ask ornithologists to do botany

  • Myosotis capitata from Adams Island. WELT SP106541. Photo by Nicki Atkinson.
  • Myosotis rakiura from Curio Bay, South Island, New Zealand. WELT SP105593. Photo by Heidi Meudt @ Te Papa. https://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/object/1591954
  • Watercolour painting of Myosotis capitata by Nancy Adams. https://collections.tepapa.govt.nz/object/835481
  • Myosotis capitata on Ewing Island. WELT SP106542. Photo by Colin Miskelly @ Te Papa.

Bird experts Colin Miskelly and Alan Tennyson recently returned from a research trip to the subantarctic Auckland Islands. Although their main aim was to study birds, Botany Researcher Heidi Meudt sent them on a separate mission – to collect a rare flower. An elusive forget-me-not Myosotis capitata is a species of forget-me-not that is known only from Campbell Island… Read more »

Furtive fauna of the Auckland Islands

  • White-headed petrel chick, Disappointment Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • An endemic Auckland Island weta (Dendroplectron aucklandense) on Ewing Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • A pair of weevil Oclandius laeviusculus weevils mating on an Anisotome latifolia flower head at night on Disappointment Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • A lesser fulmar prion fledgling prepares for its first flight at night on Disappointment Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa

Sea lions, albatrosses, and penguins usually grab the attention of visitors to the remote Auckland Islands south of New Zealand. But when Te Papa curators Colin Miskelly and Alan Tennyson explored the islands recently, they were focussed on species that are easily overlooked, and particularly those that come out after dark… The night shift The… Read more »

Three species of forget-me-nots new to science have just been formally described by Te Papa Botany Researcher Heidi Meudt and colleagues. Heidi introduces us to their names, what they look like, and describes what makes them unique. In the latest volume of Australian Systematic Botany, Heidi Meudt (Te Papa) and Jessie Prebble (Manaaki Whenua –Landcare Research) have published… Read more »

A sniper in the subantarctic

  • The Campbell Island snipe was discovered in 1997 and named (as Coenocorypha aucklandica perseverance) in 2010. Photo by Mary-Anne Lea, NZ Birds Online
  • Auckland Island snipe nest with 2 eggs, Disappointment Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Sea lion researchers assisting with snipe capture on Enderby Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Auckland Island snipe chick, Ewing Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa

Te Papa bird expert Colin Miskelly has recently returned from the subantarctic Auckland Islands, far south of Stewart Island. Here, he tells us about his ongoing research on a little-known bird that he’s been fixated with for the past 35 years. Subantarctic sniping The term sniper is derived from snipe hunting. The common snipe in… Read more »

Albatrosses and petrels of the Auckland Islands

  • A light-mantled sooty albatross chick at a site vulnerable to pigs and cats on the main Auckland Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • White-capped mollymawks on Disappointment Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • The Auckland Islands, showing sites included in the Te Papa seabird survey. Image derived from eBird records submitted by the team
  • An Antarctic prion on Ewing Island. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa

The remote Auckland Islands 370 km south of Stewart Island are tiny specks of land in the middle of a vast ocean. This makes them important breeding grounds for many species of seabirds and seals that forage in surrounding seas. Bird experts Colin Miskelly and Alan Tennyson visited the islands in late January, and here… Read more »

Conserving Rongowhakaata’s fragile ‘Iron Man’

Injecting stabilisers, 2017. Photo by Rachael Hockridge. Te Papa

One of the significant taonga exhibited in Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light and Shadow is a nose-less poutokomanawa (centre post) called Rongotueruora, affectionately known as ‘Iron Man’ due to his iron shoulder pads and rāpaki (skirt). This taonga was in a very fragile state when conservator Nirmala Balram came to inspect him. Nirmala takes… Read more »

Cigarette packets and chocolate boxes: How we used to store our collections

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Storing collections in the right space and environment is incredibly important in museums – so would you be surprised to see natural history specimens stored in colourful vintage cigarette packets? Curator Alan Tennyson and conservator Robert Clendon shed light on past practice. Modern museum storage involves rows and rows of uniform beige and grey boxes,… Read more »

Further flax weevil finds from farthest Fiordland

  • Flax weevil on Round Island, Preservation Inlet. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Southern Winds in Cascade Basin at the head of Long Sound. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Flax weevil larvae, Preservation Inlet, November 2017. Photo by Colin Miskelly. Te Papa
  • Sites where flax weevil feeding sign was noted in Chalky and Preservation Inlets in November 2017. Red arrows show islands where live flax weevils were found. Map based on NatureWatch sightings contributed by the Te Papa and DOC team.

Until 2016, flax weevils (large flightless protected beetles) were known from a single island in Fiordland. Recent surveys by Te Papa and Department of Conservation staff have now found evidence of them on a further 56 Fiordland islands. Here, Te Papa scientist Dr Colin Miskelly reports on the latest findings from remote southern Fiordland. What… Read more »

How a museum mount maker secures the nation’s treasures

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Lots of works goes on behind the scenes to get objects ready for exhibition. Mount maker Callum Strong is tasked with creating mounts to display and protect the nation’s treasures. Here he explains the efforts that went into displaying the hīnaki, or eel trap, in our latest iwi exhibition, Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light… Read more »