The 14,000th image loaded on New Zealand Birds Online was of a recently-fledged banded dotterel chick, taken by Derek Templeton. The image was taken near Blenheim, where Derek is based. Here, Derek answers a few questions about how he got involved in wildlife photography, and why he started contributing images to New Zealand Birds Online.
When did you first get interested in wildlife photography?
I have always enjoyed the great outdoors (tramping, camping, kayaking, 4WD) and always enjoyed documenting the activity using photography (landscape, trees, plants, birds, animals). In 2015, my wife and I spent 9 months travelling around the South Island in our motorhome. This gave the opportunity to spend significant time in the outdoors and we had several encounters with birds, like seeing wild whio (blue duck) on the Rolling River, which fueled a desire to take up bird photography more seriously.
Then in 2018 I upgraded my camera and telephoto lens and it has been a journey of discovery since then. While I enjoy the challenge of getting ‘classic’ bird images I also really enjoy getting ‘quirky’ images – by this I mean something that is not normally seen either because it happens very quickly or only occasionally.
Do you have a favourite species and photographic location?
Although I enjoy all birds, if really pressed to choose a favourite it would probably be the Caspian tern. Their large orange bill, raucous call and feeding technique of dive bombing into the water give them a real character that I enjoy, and it helps that there are plenty about locally.
My favourite location is the Wairau Lagoons and lower Wairau River which are only a short journey from home in Blenheim. It also allows me to indulge in another activity I enjoy, kayaking. There are a lot of boxes that get ticked – outdoors, birds, photography (taking and sharing) and kayaking. Half of my bird images come from the kayak.
What do you do with your images?
I have a Facebook page called Awesome Image Maker NZ which I publish my best images to. I also publish to a local page called Marlborough Today. I get a great deal of enjoyment sharing my images and enjoy the feedback that they invoke. As long as the positive comments continue I will be out there photographing and sharing.
How did you find out about New Zealand Birds Online?
Googling for information about birds always returned NZ Birds Online near the top of the list. Having visited the website several times I then bookmarked it and it has become my default place to go for information. I now use the website as a valuable resource and have even altered my photographic database to fall in line with its naming conventions and such like. Recently I photographed some white-fronted terns which seemed to me to have a pink blush. I could not find any information about this phenomenon and it just seemed natural to ask NZ Birds Online about this. I got a very informative reply within an hour and so began my relationship of submitting images.
[The answer is that terns and gulls can develop pink plumage if they eat a lot of krill at the time they are growing their feathers, with carotenes from the krill becoming incorporated in the feather structure. The colour fades in UV light, and so may only be noticeable for a few weeks. The ‘front’ in the tern’s name is from the Latin ‘fronte’ or forehead, and refers to the white strip between the cap and bill – Ed.]