Posts categorized as Field trips

Anthony Hume Whitaker, MNZM (1944–2014) – a tribute

  • Whitaker’s skink (Oligosoma whitakeri), Pukerua Bay, January 1997. Tony Whitaker discovered this species on two islands off Whitianga, and it was subsequently found to occur also at Pukerua Bay north of Wellington (and nowhere else). It was named in honour of Tony by Graham Hardy in 1977. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • McGregor’s skink (Oligosoma macgregori), and Sail Rock viewed from Dragon Mouth Cove, Taranga (Hen Island). Tony Whitaker found McGregor’s skink to be present on Sail Rock during landings there in January 1969 and March 1971. McGregor’s skinks from Sail Rock were translocated to nearby Lady Alice and Whatupuke Islands after Pacific rats were eradicated on both islands. Images: Colin Miskelly
  • Whitaker’s skink (Oligosoma whitakeri), Pukerua Bay, January 1997. Tony Whitaker discovered this species on two islands off Whitianga, and it was subsequently found to occur also at Pukerua Bay north of Wellington (and nowhere else). It was named in honour of Tony by Graham Hardy in 1977. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Tony Whitaker (centre) with Department of Conservation staff Ian Cooksley and Mark Townsend during a ‘pre-rat-eradication’ lizard survey on Kapiti Island, May 1995. Image: Colin Miskelly

Tony Whitaker (or ‘Whit’ to his many friends) was the godfather of modern herpetology in New Zealand. Following more than half a century of fieldwork to the remotest corners of New Zealand, there were few lizard species that he had not seen, nor lizard researchers that he had not cheerfully assisted. Tony’s passion for, and… Read more »

Reptiles of Taranga (Hen Island) and nearby islands

  • McGregor's skink, Mana Island. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Copper skink, Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Common gecko, Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • Shore skink, Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa’s Curator of Terrestrial Vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly visited Taranga for a week in December 2010 as part of his research into the life and fieldwork of the naturalist Edgar Stead. Here, Colin describes the reptiles found on the island, along with reptile records from surrounding islands, and the potential for reptile recovery and… Read more »

Life through a burrowscope lens (Part 4) – subterranean Ohinau Island

  • A fluttering shearwater chick inside its burrow on Ohinau-iti Island. Image: Robyn Blyth
  • A Mercury Island tusked weta inside a burrow on Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A fluttering shearwater egg in a burrow on a stack off Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A little penguin inside a burrow on Ohinau Island. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly recently spent 12 days on Ohinau Island (east of Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula) as part of a Te Papa seabird research team. This blog reports on what the team found living underground on the island. As described in previous blogs in this series, a burrowscope is a high-tech tool… Read more »

Critters of Ohinau Island

  • Close-up of the tusks of a male Mercury Island tusked weta, showing the ridges that are rubbed together to create sound. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • A pair of Mercury Island tusked weta on the forest floor at night, Ohinau Island, January 2014. The large male (with tusks) is on the left; the long appendage at the rear of the female is her ovipositor, used to lay eggs in the soil. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • The entire range of Mercury Island tusked weta. This rare species survived only on 13 ha Middle Island, the small island left of centre in this image. Following eradications of Pacific rats (kiore) on nearby larger islands, they were successfully translocated to Cuvier Island (on the distant horizon), Korapuki Island (immediately below Cuvier Island, and to the lower right of Great Mercury Island), Stanley Island (the large island to the right of Middle Island), the western end of Double Island (which appears as two small islands to the right of Stanley Island), Red Mercury Island (the long, low island on the right), and Ohinau Island (foreground). Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa
  • An adult male Mercury Island tusked wets (Motuweta isolata) on the forest floor at night, Ohinau Island, January 2014. Image: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa

Te Papa vertebrate curator Dr Colin Miskelly recently spent 12 days on Ohinau Island (east of Whitianga, Coromandel Peninsula) as part of a Te Papa seabird research team. This blog reports on some of the more impressive invertebrate species that he found on the island. Ohinau is a 43 ha forested island owned by Ngati… Read more »

Flesh-footed Shearwater Surveys at Ohinau Island, Coromandel

  • DSC_0532_vsm
  • FFSW
  • Fishing vessel
  • GPS track of FFSW

Keeping track of our protected species populations and their distribution is one of the tasks of biologists, and this summer Te Papa scientists surveyed sites in the Mercury Islands group for seabird populations. Flesh-footed shearwaters Puffinus carneipes breed throughout northern New Zealand, with a total population size in New Zealand of about 10,000 to 15,000 pairs… Read more »

Past and present fauna of Mt Owen, north-west Nelson

A speargrass weevil (Lyperobius clarkei) on an on the speargrass Aciphylla ferox speargrass.

As well as impressive plants, Mount Owen and the Marino Mountains are also zoologically interesting. The wet weather may have prevented us reaching the summit of Mount Owen but it did bring out the slugs and snails. We spotted a giant leaf-veined slug (Amphikonophora gigantea) beside the track on the lower flanks of the mountain…. Read more »