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Passion for conservation, photography, and our native birds



11 July, 2022


An endangered fairy tern-119For those of you that follow Piroa-Brynderwyns Landcare Group either via their website or on Facebook you will have noticed some rather amazing bird photography. This is all thanks to Aaron Skelton who lives 30 minutes west of Whangarei on a dairy farm near Maungakaramea.

Aaron is super passionate about being able to preserve what unique wildlife we have left so future generations can enjoy it too. Aaron recently joined Mangawhai Beach School to judge their conservation art competition (see Mangawhai Focus, 13 June).

“For me it’s a very satisfying feeling being able to visit pest free and heavily trapped areas around NZ, and noticing the impact of what the pest control is doing for our native bush and wildlife,” says Aaron. “I can appreciate the hard work the volunteers/workers do – living and working a dairy farm we do our own trapping of possums, mustelids, rats and cats.”

Aaron has been interested in photography for around eight years now and over that time it’s definitely been a lot of trial and error. He joined the Whangarei Camera Club, which he says has been an awesome place to learn from local photographers about camera gear and what it takes to capture the moment.

Apart from the odd trip when work allows, most of his time is 2-3 hours out taking photos around the local area. He is often drawn to Waipu estuary to photograph the critically endangered fairy terns and any other shore birds that catch his interest at the time.

Recently he has been doing pelagic trips (organised by Scott Brooks), a 50km trip from Tutukaka marina past the Poor Knights and to the 500m depth mark. On a day out there he will see albatross and many different types of petrel but as you can imagine it’s a real challenge trying to photograph flying birds while the boat is rocking around.

Once a year he takes a trip for a few nights on Tiritiri Matangi island located in the Hauraki Gulf. This pest free island is a great place to get close to bush birds and get his pic fix for the year.

n Aaron’s photography is just one way of supporting conservation efforts in NZ. For more amazing images follow Aaron on Facebook or Instagram, #azaskelton


An endangered fairy tern. PHOTOS/AARON SKELTON

Kokako about to take flight from a Kowhai tree-174

Kokako about to take flight from a Kowhai tree.

Little shag at Waipu Estuary -402


Little shag at Waipu Estuary.

Red Knots getting sandblasted-886

Red Knots getting sandblasted.

Salvin's albatross up close in Whangarei-487

Salvin's albatross up close in Whangarei.

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