Cyclone Dovi was a Category 4 severe tropical cyclone that passed through New Caledonia before barreling into New Zealand during 12–14 February 2022. Many North Island residents were hit by gale-force winds, power outages, torrential rain and flooding. Curator Vertebrates Colin Miskelly describes a recent discovery that came along with it.
Rare vagrant birds can be a challenge to identify correctly. In many migratory bird groups (e.g. waders, terns, and petrels), several species look very similar to each other. There are further complications with species that look very different depending on their age and breeding status (e.g. juvenile plumage versus adult non-breeding plumage, or adult breeding plumage). When a previously unrecognised vagrant species reaches New Zealand, it is even more challenging, as it will not be featured in New Zealand field guides and websites. Unless bird-watchers are thinking globally, a previously unrecorded species may be overlooked if it is misidentified as a species that is already on the New Zealand list. Curator Vertebrates Colin Miskelly describes how this was the initial fate of New Zealand’s first black tern.
A team of keen birders recently participated in an 11-day trip to the remote Kermadec Islands, about 800 km north-east of mainland New Zealand. Several of the species they encountered are rarely seen or photographed – in New Zealand or anywhere. Trip organiser Scott Brooks has loaded more than 70 of his stunning images from the trip on to New Zealand Birds Online. Curator Vertebrates (and NZ Birds Online administrator) Colin Miskelly showcases the best of Scott’s Kermadec bird images.
Five Te Papa staff recently joined Department of Conservation colleagues on a boat-based survey of islands in central and northern Fiordland. One of the species they were hoping to learn more about was the mysterious grey-backed storm petrel. Vertebrates curator Colin Miskelly explains why this tiny bird was on their radar, and what they found.
The 14,000th image loaded on New Zealand Birds Online was of a recently-fledged banded dotterel chick, taken by Derek Templeton. The image was taken near Blenheim, where Derek is based. Here, Derek answers a few questions about how he got involved in wildlife photography, and why he started contributing images to New Zealand Birds Online.
The Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage visited Te Papa’s natural history collection today to make an announcement that will be widely celebrated by the museum sector, as well as by anyone who values and appreciates New Zealand’s natural and cultural heritage as Curator Vertebrates Colin Miskelly explains.
COVID-19 lockdown restrictions mean that much conservation work around New Zealand is on hold. But in a remote part of Fiordland, restoration efforts are continuing every night, regardless of access constraints, social distancing, and weather conditions. Te Papa vertebrates curator Colin Miskelly describes the pioneering efforts being made to attract seabirds back to Coal Island/Te Puka Hereka in Preservation Inlet.
In August last year a small green pigeon flew across the Tasman Sea – and into the history books. It became the first vagrant bird species to be intercepted at the New Zealand border and put down as a potential biosecurity risk. Te Papa bird expert Colin Miskelly tells the unfortunate story of New Zealand’s first rose-crowned fruit-dove.
About three years ago, vertebrate curator Colin Miskelly made the ‘rash’ claim that the best bet for seeing a crabeater seal in New Zealand was to visit the mouth of the Hutt River in Wellington Harbour – and wait approximately 25 years. But one showed up there a few days ago. Colin gives his thoughts on why they come here.