About Me

My photo

I've been a Canberran since moving here from Adelaide on the first day of 1980. I now live in suburban Duffy with my partner Louise Maher, ABC 666 radio and on-line journalist. Among my early memories is following Sleepy Lizards (Shinglebacks) around the paddocks north of Adelaide, guarded by the faithful bull terrier. I have always been passionate about the natural world, trying to understand how it works, how the nature of Australia came to be, and sharing those understandings. My especial passions are birds, orchids and mammals. For much of my life I have been a full-time naturalist, running bush tours, writing books etc, doing consultancies, presenting a regular radio slot on local ABC, chairing a government environment advisory committee and running adult education classes. Recently I have eased back somewhat, but am still writing, teaching, doing some radio work and running overseas tours - as part of my fascination with our Gondwanan origins I've been running tours to South America for the past decade. I was awarded the Australian Plants Society Award in 2001 and the Australian Natural History Medallion in 2006, both for services to education and conservation.

Friday, 31 August 2012

When is a REALLY lousy photo OK?

If your answer to that is 'never' (which would be perfectly reasonable), then look away now! I make no pretensions to being an artistic photographer, or even a particularly good one, unlike many of you. I see my photos as illustrative, to record a plant, animal, behaviour, habitat or scene that I might want to revisit, or to use for talks or courses - or now, for blogs!

My answer to the above question would be "when it's the only way to properly tell a story that I think is worth telling". Until the beginning of last year I lived on the other side of The Lake (in Canberra this is relevant) in a rented house with a very large garden - and had done so for 27 years. When it was finally time to set up home here with Lou, with a much smaller garden, one of the few things I regretted leaving behind was 'my' population of skinks in the garden. I was pretty sure the house would be sold and bulldozed for townhouses (it is very near the city and the university), so I seriously considered the unthinkable - catching some of the lizards and transferring them here. In the end I didn't, because while we were moving I discovered that we had our own skinks, in both front and back yards. I didn't need any persuasion that coming here was a Good Move, but that discovery seemed to be some sort of endorsement. For the record the skinks are Grass Skinks (Lampropholis delicata) widespread along the eastern coast and ranges, but not always found in Canberra suburbia.

Yesterday, for reasons that would be boring to relate, I was looking under the topmost of a small and unaesthetic pile of concrete roofing tiles tucked under a shrub out the front; they would have gone ages ago, but the skinks call them home. It was a miserable grey drizzly day but to my astonishment, under the flimsy shelter of the top tile were not only three skinks but a gecko! There are only two geckos in our part of the world, and both occur uncommonly in gardens, but generally only when alongside a reserve - we, sadly, are nowhere near one. Yet, here was this exquisite Marbled Gecko (Christinus marmoratus) doing us the inexpressible honour of living in our little yard! I raced in for the camera, and when I relifted the tile they were all still there, though by now burning precious energy reserves in waking up. I took three quick shots (still holding the tile in the other hand); with the dearth of light I was working at 1/8 of a second, and the flash chose to slip out to lunch at that point! (Needless to say it worked fine 5 minutes later inside.) I didn't want to harass them any more than necessary, and in any case the gecko then slipped away behind a plant container. 

I was rapt, but the photos are rubbish. They do however record the special moment for me. Share it with me if you can bear it...




6 comments:

madoqua said...

Fancy finding reptiles about in Canberra in winter! Any photo is great for such an unexpected event!

Ian Fraser said...

Thanks Madoqua - you can come again! :-)

leo_qbn said...

Skinks in the yard are a delight for many of us, but finding geckos as well would indeed be joyous.
I wonder how many other such discoveries await your naturally curious presence in Duffy. :-)

Anthony said...

Awesome, I'm glad you've got the geckos. We've got them in hawker too!

Neil Frappell said...

Hi Ian, I have an equally lousy Gecko photo to run by you. Taken in suburban Adelaide ( Enfield ). Can I send this to you.. Regards

Ian Fraser said...

Sure Neil; I don't claim any particular expertise, but am happy to have a go. I grew up in Klemzig, not far from Enfield. Send it to calochilus51@internode.on.net