We met Paul at the new Queen Elizabeth Park Visitor Centre to check out their small lizard garden. It had been completed recently and so the skinks and geckos have not moved in yet. We learned that a good lizard garden needs several things; a sunny spot with lots of rocks, driftwood and other hiding spots. And native plants! Not too many though, as they can create too much shade. There are even plant species that are particularly beneficial for lizards as they provide food for them and their prey.
At our second stop we walked the first section of the Escarpment Track. Here we were joined by Pete, another committed volunteer from the Ngā Uruora project. Paul stopped at a few lizard friendly stations and carefully lifted a layer of corrugated tiles, but the skinks took off before we could even see them! However, soon after that we got to a big fenced off lizard garden, and there we saw lots of skinks! There were probably geckos too, but those are much harder to spot. This garden was covered with cardboard (to suppress weeds), rocks and piles of driftwood. In between were lizard friendly plants like the sand coprosma (Coprosma acerosa) and speargrass (Aciphylla squarrosa), as well as a few traps to keep out mice and rats. The Ngā Uruora volunteers are also dealing with other lizard predators, like hedgehogs and feral cats.
After a lunch break in the sun with magnificent views along the coast and to Kapiti Island, we turned back and made our way back home. Today we got a glimpse of a hidden and endangered world. And we saw how easy it is to create a space in our gardens for native skinks and geckos...
(Text by Jorinna)
On this beautiful sunny day we drove to Shannon, where we joined up with the rest of the group. With 26 people in total, we were more than double of our usual group size. A lot of people joined us this time as part of Conservation Week 2019 and we were delighted that a few members of the Forest & Bird Horowhenua Branch came too.
Just out of Shannon, we stopped at the first example of a fish passage, constructed at the stream of the local golf course. Logan introduced us to the challenges that local fish face when trying to pass culverts and other man-made constructions. And the challenges of his team trying to modify these obstacles so that the fish can make it through to swim upstream. The kids in our group had fun climbing around the concrete-embedded rocks too!
We traveled to a number of other examples of fish passages nearby, each one with a slightly different situation and design, Logan showed us pictures of how the areas looked before too, and pointed out how willow roots floating in the water and moss-covered boulders help fish to climb upstream where water flows fast. Amazing what those fish can do!
Our last stop for the day was the Mangahao Power Station, where we found a lovely lunch spot by the river. Logan showed us another few fish passages, this time in a bigger scale connected to the hydropower facilities. The last one was so well blended in that it took us a while to spot it!
(Text by Jorinna)