Posts categorized as Field trips

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 »

Rare success – rediscovery of several bryophyte species

The moss Dicranoweisia spenceri on a branch of a beech tree, Tongariro area.  Photo Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.

Te Papa’s botanists made several significant finds during their explorations accompanying the recent Bryophyte and Lichen Workshop. Led by Research Associate Peter Beveridge and Research Fellow Patrick Brownsey, the moss Dicranoweisia spenceri was found in some abundance at the site we investigated within Tongariro National Park.  This is great news because this is only the… 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 »

Exploring a Wellington South Coast Plant Community

  • Plagianthus divaricartus, cited as increasingly uncommon in the Wellington region.
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  • Hue tē Taka Peninsula viewed from the mainland side.
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Te Papa’s Botany team recently ventured to a Wellington City Council Reserve called Hue tē Taka Peninsula/Moa Point located on the south coast of Miramar Peninsula.  See a map of the area. Our aim is to compile a species list of the plant community, supported by vouchered specimens that will be stored in Te Papa’s… Read more »

How Te Papa contributes to plant conservation

A specimen of the moss Dicranoweisia spenceri in Te Papa’s collection. This species has a conservation ranking of “Data deficient”; that is, not enough is known about its occurrence to classify the level of threat it faces. © Te Papa.

In the next two weeks, some of Te Papa’s Botany staff will be looking for several poorly known mosses and liverworts. For instance, the moss Dicranoweisia spenceri was recorded more than 60 years ago from near Mount Ruapehu but it hasn’t been reported from there since – is it still there? We’re going to check…. 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 »

Up the volcano: Fiji ferns II

  • Mixed plantation of dalo (taro) and kava, Nabukelevu-ira.  Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • Farewell from Nabukelevu-ira.  Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • Matt von Konrat (right, Field Museum) indicates to Matt Renner that he has five great discoveries from the volcano climb.  Lars (behind) keeps the seat occupied.
  • A few of Matt Renner’s (Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney) collections from the summit. Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.

A highlight of our Fijian expedition was a trip to Kadavu, a medium-sized island south of Viti Levu.  Kadavu is a priority for Conservation International.  Four species of bird occur there and nowhere else in the world.  However, little is known of Kadavu’s bryophytes, lichens, and ferns, and it was our job to find out. While… Read more »

Ferning in Fiji

  • Maidenhair fern, Adiantum capillus-veneris.  This is not native to Fiji but has become a common weed around many parts of Suva. Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • A young frond of Blechnum milnei, a Fijian endemic that is closely related to New Zealand’s kiokio, Blechnum novae-zelandiae. Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • A Hymenophyllum filmy fern competes for space with mosses and liverworts on a tree trunk in cloud forest on the Delainbukelevu volcano. Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.
  • Koru (unfurling frond) of a species of Pneumatopteris fern in Fiji.  Photo Leon Perrie, Te Papa.

I’m lucky to have escaped the end of the New Zealand winter with a work trip to Fiji. This was as part of a Conservation International-funded, international expedition. The trip was led by Matt von Konrat of Chicago’s Field Museum, with local logistics coordinated by Marika Tuiwawa and Alivereti Naikatini of the University of the… Read more »