Posts categorized as Field trips

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 »

Taranga / Hen Island – 1933 and 2010 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 1)

  • 4. Tuatara, Hen Island, December 2010. Photo: Colin Miskelly.
  • 5. Rat-eaten Amborhytida tarangaensis snail, Hen Island, December 2010. Photo: Colin Miskelly.
  • 1. Roland Stead fishing in Dragon Mouth Cove, Hen Island, December 1933. Photo: Edgar Stead. Macmillan collection, 2001.59.381, Canterbury Museum. Permission of Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, New Zealand must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
  • 3. Pycroft’s petrel, Hen Island, December 2010. Photo: Colin Miskelly.

Edgar Stead (1881-1949) was a Canterbury naturalist famous (among other things) for exhuming the enormous Okarito blue whale skeleton now in Canterbury Museum, breeding the Ilam strain of rhododendrons and azaleas, and being an astute observer of New Zealand birds. His magnificent homestead ‘Ilam’ is now the Canterbury University staff club, and was the main… Read more »

Queensland attractions

  • Unfurling fronds of the Ptisana (Marattia) oreades, a relative of para, New Zealand’s king fern.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • The attractive cycad Bowenia spectabilis.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Flowering inflorescence of the root parasite Balanophora.  This is related to New Zealand’s bat-pollinated Dactylanthus.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • New Zealanders are pretty familiar with the koru, an unfurling fern frond.  But Australia’s prickly tree fern, Cyathea leichhardtiana, does it a bit differently.  It unfurls the leafy parts of a frond only after the “stem” parts of the frond (technically the rachis and the costae) are nearly fully extended.  Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

Despite my previous post, Queensland’s rainforests were far from entirely unpleasant.  The below caught me eye (and of course there were lots of interesting ferns too!). New Zealand’s king fern.

Vampires in the leaf litter

  • A Dendrocnide stinger tree. This nettle-relative packs a particularly nasty poisonous punch if you have the misfortune to touch any part of it (including the trunk!). Not as ferocious-looking as our tree nettle, but I’m reliably informed the sting is worse. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • An echidna. A monotreme mammal like the platypus. Cute but spiky. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • Spikes on the stems of rattan palms. These palms also had fine, hanging trendils, which were easy to walk into because they were hard to see, but difficult to subsequently escape because they had barbed spikes. Photos by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • The impressively armed leaf of what we believe is a Solanum (relative of tomato, potato, and poroporo). Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

There’s trauma in this leaf litter – can you see it?! A downside to fieldwork in Australia is the number of things that will bite, impale, or otherwise injure. We had several wet days when the leeches were out in force. At one site, half of our group suffered a leech in the eye –… Read more »

Queensland fern fieldwork

Asplenium carnarvonense is only known from a few gorges in inland southern Queensland. The gorges provide respite for ferns and other moisture-loving plants in what is otherwise an arid landscape. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.

I was recently in Queensland, Australia, working with colleagues from the University of Melbourne to collect ferns for DNA analyses. We were principally after the spleenwort Asplenium ferns, and drove large distances in pursuit of the different species. 27 of Australia’s 30 species of Asplenium occur in Queensland, which has a rich fern diversity. New… Read more »

Botany Fieldtrip Wairarapa 2010: Day 4

Horsetail, Equisetum arvense. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa.

Our final collecting day. We packed up and began heading from home. We spent about an hour alongside the road in the gorge of the Owahanga River. Peter was pleased to add several new mosses, including some that have a liking for calcareous substrates. We were disappointed to find the invasive horsetail Equisetum arvense well… Read more »

Botany Fieldtrip Wairarapa 2010: Day 3

  • Back at base, Leon and Barry press the bigger specimens between newspaper and cardboard. Pat, in the background, checks his notes. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa.
  • Peter and Pat look for mosses on rocks outside the forest. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa.
  • Jean-Claude took photographs of most of the bigger plants that we collected. These will go on Te Papa’s Collections Online website. Photo by Leon Perrie. © Te Papa.
  • The divaricating shrub Raukaua anomalus was common at all of the forested sites we visited. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl. © Te Papa.

On day three we collected from another QEII National Trust site inland from Akitio. Diverse habitats kept us busy, with the canopy ranging from black beech (Nothofagus solandri) on ridges through hillside tawa (Beilschmiedia tawa) to creek-lined pukatea (Laurelia novae-zelandiae).  Collections Online specimens from Wairarapa 2009 trip. Growing Te Papa’s plant collection. Botany Fieldtrip Wairarapa… Read more »