Top discoveries

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Within the flood of observations uploaded to NatureWatch NZ you can find some exceptional and important discoveries about New Zealand nature: new populations, new native species, new invasions, new behaviours, and new interactions.

Below are some of our favourites. If we've missed an observation that you think is exceptional and imporant, please let us know at info@naturewatch.org.nz.

Critically rare fungus rediscovered 44 years after first found

Photos / Sounds

Observer

katiew

Date

December 17, 2013

Description

Bright orange fungi close to Leaning Lodge hut. Now that I've had a closer look, they are not puffballs at all!

NatureWatch NZ user Kathy Warburton found a mushroom she didn't recognise while out tramping in central Otago. She posted a photo of it as Fungi, ID Please, on NatureWatch NZ. It turned out to be the first time this species, Nivatogastrium baylissianum, had been seen in 44 years. Kathy's discovery allowed fresh material to be DNA sequenced, which revealed that Nivatogastrium baylissianum wasn't what fungi experts had thought it was. It turns out to be most closely related to a group of fungi that are otherwise all tropical. And NZ's species grows on snowbanks up in Otago mountains. Read more...

The wandering Bishop of Canterbury

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Tui Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae

Observer

kitt

Date

May 18, 2013

Place

Leithfield (Google, OSM)

Photos / Sounds

What

Mainland Tui Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae ssp. novaeseelandiae

Observer

phillipcochrane

Date

January 24, 2014 03:42 PM NZDT

Description

Feeding in red hot poker. Flew off toward eucalypts on Hackthorn rd.

NatureWatch NZ users documented the remarkably travels of the Bishop, a tui that was banded in Akaroa, Banks Peninsula, in July 2012, after 72 Maud Island tui were released nearby 2–3 years earlier to restart the Banks Peninsula tui population. Eleven days later, he was photographed in Govenors Bay in Lyttelton Harbour, 33 km northwest of Akaroa (this observation). Then, to everyone’s surprise, first time NatureWatch NZ user kitt posted a photo of the Bishop in a garden in Leithfield Beach in North Canterbury, 52 km north of Govenors Bay (this observation). Then in January 2014 he showed up in the Cashmere hills of Christchurch city, in the very garden of the person that banded him two years earlier (this observation). He then returned to Akaroa. Read more...

The Noddy Flycap, first records in Canterbury

Photos / Sounds

What

Noddy flycap Amanita 2 ridley

Observer

jon_sullivan

Date

April 20, 2013 12:14 PM NZST

Description

A impressive large mushroom in Ashgrove Reserve, already knocked over (I propped it up for the second photo).

It was growing below two old planted titoki trees with a smaller red beech, karaka, five-finger, and lancewood also nearby.

Photos / Sounds

What

Noddy flycap Amanita 2 ridley

Date

January 23, 2014

Place

(Somewhere...)

Description

Looks a bit like this noddy flycap that Jon observed http://naturewatch.org.nz/observations/959557

In native forest with some exotic trees.

Location obscured as it's on private land.

NatureWatch NZ users found the tenth and eleventh observations ever, and the second and third observations from the South Island, and the first and second from Canterbury, of this mysterious large smelly New Zealand mushroom shaped like Gandalf's wizard hat. These fresh specimens allowed fungi experts to sequence the species and it's now being described so it can get a formal scientific name. Read more...

The first record of slender sweet-flag wild in NZ

Photos / Sounds

What

Slender Sweet-flag Acorus gramineus

Observer

neil_fitzgerald

Date

August 26, 2014

Description

Growing on a small mud island in a stream. Specimen collected and sent to Allan Herbarium (CHR 635149) where it was identified as Acorus gramineus 'Variegatus'. An escape from cultivation where it is grown as a pond/aquarium plant. This is the first known record of this species in the wild in NZ.

Slender sweet-flag (Acorus gramineus) is a garden plant in New Zealand. This is the first record of it wild. These kinds of first observations are crucially important in New Zealand as the earlier a garden plant is found in the wild, the soon biosecurity staff can act to stop it from permanently establishing and spreading.

The first giant willow aphid in NZ

Photos / Sounds

What

Giant willow aphid Tuberolachnus salignus

Observer

stephen_thorpe

Date

December 23, 2013

Description

Tuberolachnus salignus (Gmelin, 1790) "Giant willow aphid"

Resting on foliage in the pine tree stand at the back of Western Springs park, by the stream. Several Salix trees in vicinity. Captured at about 1900 hrs.

New to N.Z.!

The giant willow aphid (Tuberolachnus salignus) was first recorded in New Zealand in December 2013 on NatureWatch NZ by entomologist Stephen Thorpe. Unfortunately, it was already too well established in northern New Zealand by then to stop. Subsequent observations on NatureWatch NZ documented its rapid spread throughout New Zealand, reaching Dunedin in early 2015. Read more...

A jewelled gecko in Christchurch city

Photos / Sounds

What

Jewelled Gecko Naultinus gemmeus

Observer

batfish71

Date

May 1, 2015

Place

(Somewhere...)

Description

Found whilst neighbour was mulching their pittosporum :(

Everyone was surprised when a jewelled gecko was found in suburban Christchurch, rescued from a pittosporum that was heading for a wood chipper. We quickly put the observer in touch with lizard expert Marieke Lettink. They worked out that the gecko had most likely come with firewood from a farm on Banks Peninsula. Marieke fattened up the gecko then released it back home. Read more...

A tui at Lincoln

Photos / Sounds

Square

What

Tui Prosthemadera novaeseelandiae

Observer

jon_sullivan

Date

May 2, 2015 12:32 PM NZST

Description

We went to Mahoe Reserve in Lincoln today, where, remarkably, a tui had been observed on Thursday and Friday. It showed up again, for about half an hour, and sang. See the movie.

It was unbanded, and Laura Molles didn't recognise its song, suggesting that it may have blown in from somewhere in the Southern Alps during the recent westerly storms, instead of being a Banks Peninsula bird.

Matt Stanford and Mike Bowie found a tui at Mahoe Reserve in Lincoln, Canterbury (this observation) and Jon Sullivan then got a photo and a movie of it (this observation). Tui are very rare in lowland Canterbury, to the extent that 72 were reintroduced onto Banks Peninsula by the Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust. It's still unclear whether this Lincoln bird was one of the descendents of the birds released onto Banks Peninsula or a bird from the Southern Alps exploring far from home. Regardless, it's the first tui seen in Lincoln in a long time. Read more...

King penguin in Stewart Island

Photos / Sounds

What

King Penguin Aptenodytes patagonicus

Observer

davetv

Date

March 5, 2015 06:22 PM HST

Description

A King penguin, possibly a juvenile, standing on the beach at Doughboy Bay.

These large penguins occasionally stray north from Antarctic waters into New Zealand. This is only the tenth record of King penguins made from the three main islands of NZ and the fourth from Stewart Island.

Revised on November 10, 2015 06:36 PM by jon_sullivan jon_sullivan
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