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)