November 05, 2023

Marine silk webs

There seems to be a few recent observations of underwater marine silk web structures. I'm not sure whether there are just Desis marina or something else. So just collecting them together here for the time being:

Feel free to add links to more, similar, observations, and comments.

Posted on November 05, 2023 12:34 AM by tony_wills tony_wills | 11 comments | Leave a comment

September 15, 2018

The hunt for the missing puffball

Ok, not actually missing, except in the sense that it is not recorded anywhere except by me ... so maybe I am imagining it, or maybe I am spreading it, so it is only showing up in places that I visit :-)

The story so far ... a long long time ago in a land closeby I found an interesting puffball growing, in what I thought was moss, on a mahoe tree trunk.

A small oval puffball growing in 'moss'
The mature puffball

No one seemed to know exactly what it was, but they grew on the same tree every year from 2006 to 2014, so I thought they weren't rare and someone would eventually tell me what it was. I stopped finding it there but found another location in 2014. Still no hints as to its identify, wondered whether it was an introduced/invasive species as it seemed not to correspond to any described NZ species. Sent some material to Jerry Cooper at landcare research.

And that's when things became even more interesting! Jerry sequenced the DNA and found that it was not what he expected - /observations/4727831. "This puffball is different, worthy of another genus name. It needs more work but the data hint at it being more closely related to the ancestor of all puffballs globally than any of the currently recognised genera"

And he pointed out that it was growing with a liverwort not a moss (you can tell that I am not a botanist), and it was probably parasitic on the liverwort. (Some sites do have moss, but there has always been liverwort)

Liverwort on puffball
The liverwort associated with this puffball

Dying liverwort around puffball
Dying liverwort around puffball

Since then I have found it on a total of 12 different trees, all with liverwort present (some with moss too), always on live trees, and not on bare wood. And all the trees have been mahoe (Melicytus ramiflorus). Usually I have only found isolated trees with it, but there is one place with sites on 5 trees within 20 to 30 meters of each other. I have not located any at the original site for 4 years now.
The complete set of posted observations can be found here: /observations?field:Observation group=963144

Puffball with scale A range of puffball sizes
Puffball with scale, and range of sizes

My search for it has not been rigorous at all, I do tend to examine trees with a good covering of liverwort more carefully than others. But I have only identified the trees after I have found the puffball, so that the bias towards mahoe is strange as the liverwort seems to grow much more widely than that. And I don't get out beyond Wellington often, so although I look for it everywhere that I go, I've only found it in Wellington around Wrights Hill, and at only what I'd call 8 sites , in 12 years (although 7 of those sites are currently active).

It is small and easy to overlook, but on the plus side it is slow growing and present for many months before maturing and expelling its spores. Often last years empty puffball shells can still be identified when the next seasons ones are growing.

This seasons mature puffballs together with the remains of last year's puffballs
This seasons mature puffballs together with the remains of last year's puffballs

So the question of all those interested in liverworts is : "Is this puffball ubiquitous and found everywhere that the liverwort Metzgeria furcata grows but overlooked, or is this a remnant population that occurs nowhere else? Or something in between?". Well lots of people are interested in liverworts and have made many observations of them, so what better place to start. Have you every noticed inconspicuous round white puffballs, or slightly larger (<10mm) mature brown, egg shaped, puffballs growing on live tree trunks with liverworts?

Follow up

A few developments:
In October 2019 Jerry Cooper informed us that he has identified this species in material brought back from Raoul Island by @la-c (, and designated it as a new species, tagged as Lycoperdon sp. 'Croydon (PDD106681).

In May 2020 @wild_wind, by dint of a lot of searching with sharp eyes, is the first person to report finding this new species at a new location while actually searching for it, /observations/45041593 (no confirming DNA analysis done though). So now on two different hills in Wellington and on Raoul Island! Presumably in many locations between. It will be interesting to see whether it turns up in the South Island.

Growth sequence
Up until now I have not really observed the progress of a single puffball to gauge how fast they grow. The ones I monitored previously didn't grow appreciably.

But this series of recent observations Observation group=50648131, from 12/11/2019 to 23/6/2020 seems to show the growth of one to 'full size'. So this confirms that not only do they take a long time to mature, they can take a long time to reach their final 'full size'. It will be interesting to see how long this one takes to mature now that it has reached that size.

This starts off as a bunch of small puffballs just below a previous observation of a cut puffball (Similar observation set=32884523). There seems to be something eating the puffballs, but one grows despite this. It will be interesting to see whether this damage affects its ability to produce spores.

It is also interesting to note an elongated intermediate form of the puffball:

a form that I have only seen once before:

We need more observations to confirm whether this is a normal intermediate stage as they grow.


We have reached the mainland, located by Tyler McBeth, 17/1/2024. !!!

Posted on September 15, 2018 10:45 AM by tony_wills tony_wills | 7 observations | 24 comments | Leave a comment

March 10, 2016

New Zealand iNat observations of the day


Animated Observations:


Posted on March 10, 2016 10:07 AM by tony_wills tony_wills | 2 comments | Leave a comment

March 26, 2015

The purpose of inaturalist/naturewatch projects

I have been trying to sort out in my mind how to use the inaturalist/naturewatch project feature. These comments are based on looking at projects rather than the larger set of projects.

Why have projects? My (superficial ;-) analysis discerns a number of different project types:

1) I envisage projects as places where people can work collaboratively together to achieve some aim. Members of the project are there to achieve something beyond identifying individual observations. The project includes a place where people can discuss how to run the project and achieve its ends.
For example a collaborative project to coordinate documenting all the flora or fauna in a particular area.

2) Many projects seem mainly to be used to collect together observations in one place. But this could also be done by adding "additional fields".
(eg the "Animated observations" project.)
A subgroup of these mainly serve to accumulate a check-list of species for a particular area.
(eg Cape sanctuary.)
Another subgroup of these are just to survey or count observations in a particular area, and prompt members to do the same in their area.
(eg Kārearea NZ Falcon national count
A lot of these are potentially "type 1" projects but don't have anyone or group driving them and actively processing observations added to the project.

3) A second common purpose is to gather together observations so that a group can work on all observations of a particular type and the rest of the naturewatch community can contribute by adding or inviting suitable observations to the project. This is often used by external groups looking for citizen/crowd sourced data.
(eg "Ferns with Te-Papa".)

4) Another use of projects is to prompt people to add particular useful bits of information as "additional fields" for ongoing or later analysis, this may be the entire function of the project.
(eg the "NZ Fantail Phases" project)

5) There is a class of project which is really just to define a group of users. For instance a university course exercise/assignment. A subset of type 4 above, but a closed group just for that class, and rules defining the information to enter for each observation.

6) The final type of project is one that seems to simply be to advertise the existence of some external project, but where no effort or thought seems to have gone into actually implementing anything to do on this site. I think these tend to be the result of invitations to create a project here, without an understanding or buy-in to the naturewatch model. I suppose these are still-born type 3 projects.

Posted on March 26, 2015 01:28 AM by tony_wills tony_wills | 7 comments | Leave a comment

October 16, 2014

If you love them, let them go free

A bit of history: My first upload (well, under this alias ;-) to wikipedia/wikimedia was of a magpie moth caterpilla after being astounded that there was none to illustrate the wikipedia page (had to borrow a camera) ... been busy ever since. That's mainly why I look for id confirmations for my photos - to make them more useful (boy was that difficult before naturewatch :-(.

I license all my images CC-BY-SA so that they can be used for any purpose, as long as you don't claim them as your work, and also that you make any derivative images similarly available.
Many people opt for non-commercial licensing (eg CC-BY-NC), I think this is a fairly standard reaction of most people: "I am happy to share my photos but if anyone is going to make money out of them, then I want a cut" ;-). In reality most reputable commercial publishers would seek explicit commercial licensing from you anyway, to protect their back (so they don't get bad publicity when they find that the freely licensed image they found on the web wasn't actually licensed that way by its owner). The less reputable ones will ignore licensing and good luck in your ability to sue them unless you're Di$ney etc, and can send in the swat team.

I see millions of photos out there on the internet "all rights reserved" or NC, ND - a bit like locks on doors, only keeps the honest people out. Seems such a waste :-(

My philosophy is that I have no intention of trying to make money out of them, and it is very very unlikely that anyone else will either. Might as well have the satisfaction of seeing them as widely used as possible. I find wikipedia such a great (though imperfect ;-) resource, it's one thing that I can contribute to make it better and they require "anyone can use them for anything" type licenses, the "CC-BY-SA" and "CC-BY" licensing options here make them usable on wikipedia etc.

If you love it, set it free :-)

</soapbox> ;-)

my original
(someones derivative) who would have thought?

Posted on October 16, 2014 11:06 AM by tony_wills tony_wills | 0 comments | Leave a comment

May 03, 2014

Strange or interesting observations

Fish without red bloodcells             Half yellow, half red admiral
Mummified aphids?                          Bellbird feeding silver-eye
Blue flatworm                                      Flower within a flower

1st photo on
was an NZ Red billed gull
               1st photo on is an NZ Kaka

1st observation in NZ was a Kea.

Fungi growing from caterpillar

Earthworm with strange constrictions at tail end

Strange nest

Strange growth

Nostoc commune?

Mummified moth

Posted on May 03, 2014 10:09 AM by tony_wills tony_wills | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 28, 2013

Useful saved searches

Searching for observations that are not yet "research grade"
add quality_grade=casual to the URL in the address bar of your search eg
All casual grade obs:
All my casual grade obs:
NZ obs with photos and id_please but still casual grade:[]=photos&has[]=id_please&
NZ obs with photo, but still casual grade:[]=photos&quality_grade=casual&view=table[]=photos&has[]=id_please&quality_grade=casual&
Someone please help, still looking for an id (or confirmation).✓&has[]=id_please&quality_grade=research&
Marked "id please", but already research grade (hint:time to turn off "id please").[]=photos&quality_grade=casual&swlat=-47&swlng=166&nelat=-35&nelng=179&taxon_name=animalia&taxon_id=1&
All animal observations with photo, but still casual grade.

Link that should be in dashboard

Find old comments
Comments on my observations:
Comments by me:
All comments:

Search for keyword in comments:

Search for your own identifications

Search for unconfirmed observations for species on a list

Search for all introduced species I have seen in NZ

Look at my identification categories

Get list of taxa observed over some set of observations

List observation fields in order of name

Posted on April 28, 2013 09:33 AM by tony_wills tony_wills | 0 comments | Leave a comment

April 17, 2013

Tips and tricks

HTML codes allowed in descriptions etc
a, abbr, acronym, b, blockquote, br, cite, code, dl, dt, em, embed, h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6, hr, i, iframe, img, li, object, ol, p, param, pre, small, strong, sub, sup, tt, ul
eg <strong>strong text</strong>
eg <i>italic text</i>
eg <strike>struck out text</strike> (works in descriptions if not here)
eg <ins>inserted text</ins> (works in descriptions if not here)
eg <a href="http: //">link to webpage</a>
eg <img src=""> Scale.
(or <a href=""><img src=""></a> Scale)
<a href=""><img src=""></a> Scale
<img src=""> Bellbird bands.
Bellbird bands
<img src=""> Kaka bands.
Kaka bands

Tuatara bands at Zealandia : "All the animals have been individually marked with a unique combination of beads adjacent to their neck crest. The larger animals may have 3 beads each side, the smallest 1 bead. The beads on each side are a mirror image of the other so you only need to see the beads on one side. To record the colour combination, list the bead colours in order from the outside edge to the inner-most one next to the spine."

Change "primary" photograph / reorder photos in an observation
You can change the order of photographs you have uploaded for an observation. You might want to do this to select which image is displayed as the main image for that observation (ie number 1) or put a sequence of images into chronological order.
When in edit mode for the observation you will see a "Re-order photos" link beneath the photos, that will take you to a page where you can enter numbers to determine the order of display.

Looking for images suitably licensed for use on wikipedia?

Looking for observations in a particular project?
Add projects[]=project-name to the search URL
eg To find all my observations in "Animal footprints" project:[]=animal-footprints
Note that "project-name" is the name you will find in the URL of the project's page (generally the project name converted to lowercase and spaces converted to hyphens)

Adding a link to another observation?
If people follow links from iNaturalist to NatureWatchNZ of visa-versa they find themselves not logged in. So instead of just pasting a link to another observation as, enter a relative URL in the form of an HTML link <a href="/observations/985491">985491</a> which will give 985491 and takes people to the observation but leave you in which-ever system you are logged in to.
Posted on April 17, 2013 11:29 AM by tony_wills tony_wills | 11 comments | Leave a comment