Writer Neville Peat has just published the biography of a man known as the ‘Father of Albatross Science’. ‘Seabird genius – the story of L.E.Richdale, the royal albatross and the yellow-eyed penguin’ tells the tale of a reclusive nature studies teacher who spent 18 years of his life, at weekends and in his holidays, studying the little-known royal albatrosses and yellow-eyed penguins on the Otago Peninsula. When Richdale began his work in the mid-1930s, there was a single pair of royal albatrosses at Taiaroa Head, attempting to raise a chick. With his protection the chick successfully fledged, setting in motion a conservation and management programme that has seen the growing albatross colony become a world-leading nature tourism attraction.
Alison Ballance meets Neville Peat at Taiaroa Head to hear about the man and his wildlife achievements.
‘Seabird genius: the story of L.E. Richdale, the royal albatross and the yellow-eyed penguin’ is published by Otago University Press.
Neville Peat at Taiaroa Head with the growing colony of red-billed gulls on the cliff behind (image: A. Ballance).