Posts categorized as Reptiles

Night Life on the Poor Knights Islands

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The Poor Knights Islands, northeast of Whangarei, are perhaps best known as a world-class diving location, but the life on land is no less astonishing and it really comes alive at night.  In December 2011, I assisted seabird expert Graeme Taylor with his work on the migration of Buller’s Shearwaters.  This species of petrel breeds… 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 »

Animal and plant collections

Te Papa’s Natural Environment team have revamped their webpages. You can access them here. Collection highlights online include: Big fish Medicinal ferns of the second Maori king Unique bird eggs and skeletons Colossal squid Plants collected during Captain Cook’s first expedition GV Hudson insect collection Nests of extinct birds The following links will take you… 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 »

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 »

A beak with a tale

Parakeet beaks found on Stephens Island. Photograph reproduced courtesy of Colin Miskelly

In December last year I was contacted by Department of Conservation staff on Stephens Island reporting that they had found a bone that looked like a parrot’s beak in their vegetable garden, and asking if I could help identify it.   Stephens Island Nature Reserve lies off the northern tip of D’Urville Island in the… 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 »

Fossils uncovered!

Normally fossils are found in the field but in this case Te Papa technicians and I have been rediscovering an early accumulation of fossil reptiles and fish held in Te Papa’s collections that have not been examined for decades. When the Colonial Museum opened in 1865, the Director James Hector, wanted to show New Zealanders… Read more »

Sphenodon punctatus

  • Charley and Spike in NatureSpace | (c) Te Papa 2010
  • Xandi in NatureSpace with his fantastic creation | (c) Te Papa
  • three tuatara sunbathing on a "rock" in NatureSpace | (c) Te Papa 2010
  • A tuatara crunching into a nice juicy waterbug in NatureSpace | (c) Te Papa 2010

At the halfway point of the school holidays already, and it’s time to bring out the big guns. We need to keep the kids entertained, and what better way than with a real life sphenodon punctatus? Great idea, and luckily for us, there’s several real ones, just up the road at Victoria University. Even luckier for… Read more »