Bird Watch

I drove through Punakaiki recently. Once a year this west coast town holds a festival to welcome the Westland petrel back home to New Zealand after its annual sojourn to South American waters. Amid a weekend of music and revelry, festival-goers gather on the beach at sunset to watch thousands of large black seabirds assemble…

Wildlife

, , , , ,

The fourth annual World Seabird Twitter Conference took place over this past week, with seabird researchers all over the globe chiming in around the clock for three days straight. You don’t need a Twitter account to peruse the presentations: #WSTC4. I had a 15-minute slot to “present” and answer questions about my own tweets:   I’m…

Wildlife

, , , , ,

In the far north of New Zealand lie the rugged Poor Knights Islands, off-limits to terrestrial tourism, but surrounded by a stunning marine reserve containing one of Jacques Cousteau’s top ten dive sites. Why are these prismatic waters so rich with life? One likely factor is the abundance of seabirds that breed here, bringing nutrients they’ve…

Wildlife

, , , , ,

It’s well past midnight on Little Barrier Island, called Hauturu in Māori—”resting place of the wind.” Six of us have been lying on our backs in the wet grass since nightfall, squinting through the spatter of raindrops on our faces. A giant inverted triangle of light looms above the forest clearing, blurred by mist and…

Wildlife

, , , ,

There’s no such thing as a seagull, according to certain pedants. How can that be?

Because it’s a gull—actually, one of about fifty gull species living in habitats all over the world, oceanic and otherwise. They range from the size of a dove to the size of an osprey, with all sorts of differences in appearance and behavior. Three of those species live here in New Zealand—including the river-dwelling black-billed gull, the most endangered gull in the world….

Wildlife

, , , , , ,

 Supposedly I didn’t show any fear during my first abseil, down a 70-meter seacliff south of Dunedin, New Zealand. Thank you, poker face. But in truth, it was amazement more than fear that I felt while hanging vertiginously over the ocean, descending past surfaces sculpted like unfired urns, to find a wild, winged treasure…

Wildlife

, , , , , , ,

This is Part Four of “Voyage of the Yellow-eyed Penguin” (See Part One, Part Two, Part Three) Last explorations of Eden 14 November 2017 Waterfall Inlet and Lake Hinemoa Today started out pretty OK. Just another morning in the subantarctic, in an impossible cove full of waterfalls, rainbows, and yellow-eyed penguins. Eight penguins swam up to and under…

Changing Planet, Wildlife

, , , , , ,

Asian range countries of the world’s heaviest flying bird, the great bustard, will coordinate the conservation of highly threatened populations of the species after a unanimous show of support at the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species. Weighing up to 46 pounds, the great bustard (Otis tarda) is the heaviest animal capable…

Changing Planet

, , ,

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the National Geographic Society announced today the selection of the 2017-2018 Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellows. The five American Fulbright-National Geographic Storytellers are: Toby Cox, who will explore the story of religious identity in the Kyrgyz Republic, its complex relationship with Islam and…

Changing Planet

,