The story behind this first blog post – a story of conservation, skinks and old cottages to photograph

Hi, especially if you’re new here! It’s the first blog post on this new photography stock image nz library shop.

During the week I uploaded a couple images of some old historic buildings I’m quite happy about. It all came about because I regularly do conservation volunteer work with New Zealand’s Dept of Conservation, and on this occasion the task was to check trapping lines put in place to protect colonies of very rare [and endangered] species of Grand and Otago Skinks.

Both species are unique to Otago, and are two of New Zealand’s rarest reptiles and are “Nationally Critically Endangered” and could be extinct within 10 years unless something is done like predator proof fences further to the east of where I live in Wanaka. Pockets exist in Otago from near the east coast to Lakes Hawea and Wanaka, and in the Lindis Pass area to the north, which is where we went to a known colony.

Donald Lousley in the Grandview Range NZ

We tend to do our tasks [trapping lines] alone for efficiency, and we carry radios for mainly safety reasons and to know where/when to meet up for lunch and transport etc. This is a self portrait and as the ground was steep it was hard to get into a natural looking position.

Grandview Range skink habitat

They live in very specific habitats – secure, sheltered crevices in large outcrops of schist, known as tors, or in the likes of this bluff system. My line was to the right.

DOC 200 predator trap

Skinks are exceptionally well adapted to the cold upland, tussock and tor landscape they belong to. Here is a trap known as a “DOC 200” on quite steep terrain. Finding each one is a skill to be learnt and involves sight, maps, GPS, pink marking tape, and an experienced “eye” regards where to walk, traverse a contour, or climb down too. Then on arrival as well as clearing dead predators and re-baiting, sometimes repairs are needed too…

Timms possum trap

The Timms trap is one of New Zealand’s most popular possum traps and has National Animal Welfare Approval. It is made of tough polyethylene plastic, is very light, compact, and safe/easy to set.

Grandview Range skink habitat

Even when there’s snow on this sort of terrain as is normal in the winter, if the sun is out, the skinks will bask on the rock ledges and still be able to feed on insects etc…

St Bathans Range and the Lindis Valley

A view of the St Bathans Range and the Lindis Valley from the top of my second line.

Toyota in the Grandview Range

Job done and we assemble ready to drive out.

Stone Cottage - Grandview Range

On the way in I’d noticed a couple of old cottages – worthy subjects for my camera, so on our return I asked if we could stop. We did anyway, and I was lucky to get a good go taking these images, while the others talked to the farmer/owner of the property we were on. He was very interested to know what we’d found on our travels, as its in his best interest farming to have as much knowledge as possible. Image available in the eShop >>

mud brick cottage white wash wall

Photographically speaking I’ve always found a whitewash finish on the likes of mud brick, or brick wall makes for a great textured background. It’s just a pity that this was not a briar covered in red berries.