Posts categorized as Field trips

A Te Papa curator in Ecuador

Waved albatross adult brooding a small chick on Isla de la Plata, Ecuador, on 27 August 2011. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Colin Miskelly is in Guayaquil as the expert advisor to the New Zealand delegation at the 6th ACAP (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels) meeting, and has provided this report. The ACAP meeting has been a great opportunity to meet with albatross researchers and conservation workers from… Read more »

Riders of the storm – thousands of seabirds perish on New Zealand shores

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  • Fig. 7. The calm before the storm – healthy broad-billed prions on Kundy Island, off Stewart Island, March 2011. Photo: Colin Miskelly
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  • Fig. 5. Beach-wrecked broad-billed prions, Paekakariki (Wellington west coast), 16 July 2011. Photo: Colin Miskelly

It started as a trickle and soon developed into a flood of devastating proportions. On 11 July 2011 I received an email enquiry from a family at Waikanae seeking help with identifying an unusual seabird that they had found dead on their driveway. It was a Salvin’s prion, a not-too-unexpected discovery near the coast during… Read more »

The global penguin – Part 1. How a lone emperor ventured into superstardom

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  • Kapiti Beach

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly tells the first part of the unfolding story of the emperor penguin that went where none had gone before (at least in the age of digital media). An ordinary Tuesday morning. Logged on to the Te Papa server, downloading emails, waiting for the first caffeine jolt… Read more »

Surveying snipe on Putauhinu Island

  • Muttonbird islands from the north. Taukihepa (Big South Cape Island) on the left, Putauhinu Island on the right, Kaimohu in the foreground.
  • Adult South Island saddleback on Putauhinu Island.
  • James & Percy
  • Handheld Snares Island snipe on Putauhinu Island

Putauhinu Island is a 141 ha muttonbird island south-west of Stewart Island. The muttonbirders on Putauhinu have worked closely with the Department of Conservation (and its predecessor the New Zealand Wildlife Service) to restore the island’s ecology, including eradicating Pacific rats in 1995, and translocating and releasing South Island saddlebacks in 1974 & 1976, Codfish… Read more »

Finding rare plants with GW

  • Melicytus obovatus, Titahi Bay. Photo and © Tim Park.
  • Southern shore spleenwort, Asplenium obtusatum, Titahi Bay. Photo and © Tim Park.
  • The green is the Leptinella manitoto, thriving on the dry mud. The red is a species of Crassula. Photo and © Tim Park.
  • Close up of Leptinella maniototo, with several flowering inflorescences, each c. 2 mm across. Its narrow leaves and leaf-segments, and its shortly-stalked inflorescences are distinctive. Photo and © Leon Perrie.

Last week, Antony and I joined Greater Wellington Regional Council staff, Robyn Smith and Tim Park, to check out a few plants that are uncommon locally. The highlight was seeing Tim’s recent discovery of a new population of the button daisy Leptinella maniototo, near Porirua. This is only the second known North Island population, the other… Read more »

Magnificent petrels, and pina coladas on the beach

  • Water-logged campsite at Qwelrakrak
  • Qwelrakrak solfatara looking east towards Mota Lava
  • Manman, one of our guides from Lalngetak village
  • Vanuatu green tree skink Emoia sanfordi – a visitor to our camp

Two of Te Papa’s Natural Environment staff recently returned from two weeks seabird research in northern Vanuatu. Colin Miskelly (Curator Terrestrial Vertebrates) here recounts some of the adventures he had with Alan Tennyson (Curator Fossil Vertebrates) during early March 2011. Back in 2001 New Zealanders Mike Imber and Alan Tennyson proposed a new species of… Read more »

Bio-blitzing Mana

  • The initial products of five hours on Mana Island: two herbarium presses containing specimens to be identified, plus a plastic bag full of seaweeds collected from beach drift for our phycological colleagues.  Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.
  • Antony being attacked by a head band of Calystegia silvatica (great bindweed). Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.
  • Centaurium erythraea (centaury); a weed from the gentian family. Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.
  • The distinctive forked hairs on the leaves of Leontodon taraxacoides (hawkbit) distinguish it from similar dandelion-type plants. Leon Perrie, © Te Papa.

The Mana Bioblitz  is currently on. A Bioblitz is a count of all the species in an area. I recently visited Mana Island with Antony, one of Te Papa’s Botany Collection Managers, to contribute to the botanical cause.

Bryophyte Workshop

  • Moss Scorpidium cossonii (with thanks to Peter Beveridge for the identification), in an alpine seepage. Photo by Leon Perrie.
  • Moss Tayloria. Often grows on dung! Photo by Leon Perrie.
  • Liverwort Schistochila. Photo by Leon Perrie.
  • Liverwort Plagiochila. Several sporophytes are evident, albeit enclosed within perianths. Each sporophyte has a black capsule, where the spores are made, and a whitish, fleshy stalk (the seta). Photo by Leon Perrie.

Last December, three Te Papa botanists attended the 2010 John Child Bryophyte and Lichen Workshop, held in Riverton. This is one of the principal ways we acquire new plant specimens. We are still processing the specimens we collected during the 2010 Workshop. Identification of these small plants can take some time, usually requiring microscopic examination…. Read more »

Nukuwaiata / Inner Chetwode Island – 1936 and 2011 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 2)

  • Camp Robin, January 2011. Reproduced courtesy of Colin Miskelly.
  • 1. Nukuwaiata (Inner Chetwode Island), with the outer Marlborough Sounds in the distance.
  • Left: Edgar Stead, Dot Stead and Roland Stead, possibly on Nukuwaiata in 1936 (when Roland was 13 years old). Right: Colin Miskelly, Kate McAlpine and Kieran Miskelly (age 13) on Nukuwaiata in 2011.
  • 2. The first and second forest geckos recorded from Nukuwaiata, January 2011

As part of a project to publish the wildlife diaries of Edgar Stead (see blog of 15 December 2010), 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… Read more »