Kaikōura: whale-watching (or wailing at watchers?)

As a picturesque little town nested between mountain ranges and the Pacific Ocean on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Kaikōura is known for its marine life encounters. Due to the specific offshore topography including deep dropping continental shelves and a U-shaped canyon, two oceanic currents meet and…

Playing favourites – using calls to save the kokako from extinction

Moving to a new city can be a stressful yet exciting situation. Whether you move for a job, to learn a new language or just to get a fresh new start, you are facing a life-changing experience. For wildlife, moving permanently from one location to another can be a life-saving…

A new toolbox toxin that can take out an elephant

Whilst hiking in Arthur’s Pass, there is always one plant that never fails to catch my eye. I notice it, not because of its’ beauty or its phenomenal size, but because of the alarm bells that go off in my head when I see it. This plant is Coriaria arborea,…

My Grandad’s Not Batty

My Grandad is an old school farmer in Central Hawkes Bay. Although he is quick with a dry joke, he is a man of few words. However, my Grandad is extremely knowledgeable in the ways of the natural world. He seems to know substantial information on the functionality of New…

The outlook for the Mackenzie Country? Always bunny

You’re driving down a long straight roads of the Mackenzie country. Beautiful mountains and vast tussock land looking all too photogenic and some would even say majestic. And yet there are hectares upon hectares of land that are not being utilised. You wonder, is it caused by a lack of…

A Deadly Seabird Stampede?

When you think of birds in New Zealand’s forests you might imagine a tui serenading you from the treetops, or perhaps the iconic kiwi scurrying through the undergrowth. What probably doesn’t spring to mind is the shrieking of hundreds of thousands of seabirds as they crash-land on the forest floor….

Book collections and possum selection

Variety is the spice of life. That is certainly true of my life. I’ve always been drawn to variation. I can see it in my youth. I enjoyed comics in general but I preferred Warlord and 2000AD with their multiple series in each issue compared to those comics centred around a…

For every season, tern, turn

Nothing is permanent. As an evolutionary biologist I am very used to the concept of change, especially slow change over long periods. As an animal behaviour scientist I am used to the concept for very rapid change over short periods. Some of my career has been spent in reconciling the…

How we used the leopard’s spots

Humans love to tell stories about the things that they see around them. All cultures have creation stories about why the world is the way it is. At a personal level we like to think that there is a narrative to our lives. No one really likes the thought that…

The elephant in the room

Many things affect our lives. Only some of these things get the notice that they deserve. We tend to fixate on the big, flashy events, while other linked events, just as important, are overlooked. One big and flashy event in my life was the Canterbury Quakes. The 7.1 quake of September…