Posts categorized as Field trips

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 »

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 »