Posts categorized as Reptiles

Green Island (Papatea) – 1941 and 2012 – In the footsteps of Edgar Stead (Part 8)

  • New Zealand fur seal cows and pups on Green Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Geckos (Woodworthia 'Otago large') on Green Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Fernbird photographed on Ruapuke Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly
  • Brown creeper on Green Island, December 2012. Image: Colin Miskelly

Te Papa’s curator of terrestrial vertebrates Dr Colin Miskelly is researching the life and work of the Canterbury naturalist Edgar Stead (1881-1949). This includes re-taking Stead’s photos from the same photo-point, taking other images to illustrate his diaries, and describing how the ecology and wildlife of each of 10 islands has changed since Stead’s visits…. Read more »

A gift of lizards – 35 years to completion

  • Te Papa’s reptile and frog collection is mainly comprised of specimens preserved in ethanol, housed in the purpose-built off-site Spirit Collection Area. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa.
  • Black-eyed gecko (Mokopirirakau kahuturae) holotype, ex Ecology Division collection. Te Papa specimen number RE.001817, collected by A.H. (Tony) Whitaker at Kahutara Saddle, Seaward Kaikoura Range, on 26 June 1970. Image: Te Papa
  • Whitaker’s skink (Oligosoma whitakeri) holotype, ex Ecology Division collection. Te Papa specimen number RE.001817, collected by A.H. (Tony) Whitaker on Middle Island, Mercury Islands, on 26 June 1970. Image: Te Papa
  • Te Papa’s reptile and frog collection is mainly comprised of specimens preserved in ethanol, housed in the purpose-built off-site Spirit Collection Area. Photo: Colin Miskelly, Te Papa.

The New Zealand science community was quite different in 1977 compared to 2012. Most government scientists then worked for one of the many divisions of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), our reserve networks and protected species were administered by multiple agencies, and the national museum was known as …the National Museum. All this… Read more »

Night Life on the Poor Knights Islands

  • Poor Knights Dec 2011 463
  • Poor Knights Dec 2011 396
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  • Poor Knights Dec 2011 289

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 »