Posts categorized as Field trips

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 »

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 »