Smiths have long involvement with Gore aviary

Bob Smith with one of his prize-winning red factor canaries.
Bob Smith

Bob Smith with one of his prize-winning red factor canaries.

Retirement gives Bob Smith more time to spend on his birds and photography.

Twice a day, he and wife Barbara care for a variety of colourful birds at the Gore aviary. 

"We feed and water them, check nest boxes and make sure everything is right," Bob Smith says.

This photo of two greenfinches fighting won the Champion Nature Print for Bob Smith at the Photographic Society of New ...
Bob Smith

This photo of two greenfinches fighting won the Champion Nature Print for Bob Smith at the Photographic Society of New Zealand's southern region convention at Westport in October.

He was in the Gore and Districts Bird Club when it agreed to manage the aviary for the Gore District Council in 1998. The agreement was settled within days of the club being formed.

Smith and several others got the club up and running following a good response to their advertisement requesting interest in a bird enthusiasts' group.

The club had 40 members in the early days.

"It closed in 2013 through lack of interest . . . in the finish, we had half a dozen attending," Smith said.

His commitment to the aviary never waned and eventually, he and Barbara became its managers.

The main species among the 200 birds there are cockatiels, finches, budgies and quails.

Walking into the Smiths' backyard you see a well-appointed aviary and vegetable garden.

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"When we bought this home in 1984, I said, the first thing I'm going to do is put in an aviary," Bob says.

His love of birds led to him becoming publicity officer and newsletter writer for the Southland Bird Club. The club, in its 55th year, has 25 members and meetings are held in Gore or Invercargill every two or three months.

Its annual show is at the Otatara Community Centre on June 3-4.

"Budgies make up the largest volume of birds at the show," Smith says.

"My speciality are the red factor canaries. They're the ones I show."

Smith breeds the canaries and puts them on a three-month colour feeding programme to change their colour from light orange to deep red. A dye is added to their water, but it can be put into a soft feed.

The birds return to their natural colour during the moulting season.

Smith became interested in birds as a 12-year-old. His father was an engineer at the Pareora meat works and the family lived on the company's farm.

A hedge, a swamp area and other parts of the farm attracted different type of birds. Smith spent many hours researching the breeds of the birds and the eggs he found.

His photo of two greenfinches fighting won the Champion Nature Print at the Photographic Society of New Zealand's southern region convention at Westport in October.

Smith's appetite for photography grew when he started using a digital camera.

"I had been using a point and shoot [camera] like everyone else."

A friend encouraged him to join the Gore Camera Club eight years ago.

Smith bought a digital camera and for the first three years in the club, he devoted most of his time to learning as much as possible about photography.

Comments from judges of the club's competitions provided Smith with valuable knowledge.

"I sat in the back row listening to judges' comments."

Guest speakers also provide him with good advice.

Four years ago Smith became the club's competitions' secretary. The club, of 60 years, runs monthly competitions and hold meetings in the St Andrews Church hall.

Every year a new judge, of prominent standing, is appointed for the competitions. 

This year's judge, Murray Cave, of Gisborne, is a past president of the Photographic Society of New Zealand.

People from Te Anau, Miller's Flat and Invercargill are members of the club.

The Catlins is one of the more popular areas for club field trips.  

Smith and other club members judged the photo competition at the Gore A & P Show at the weekend. On Saturday, he and two other members will be official photographers at the Moonshine Trail - a mountain bike and off-road run in the Hokonui hills.  

"We've always got a camera in our hands."

Wife Barbara heard that comment and light-heartedly says: "It goes in the car before I do." 

Photography and working with birds is a good mix for Bob Smith.

"You've got to have a passion for both."

Smith retired from being the Southland Regional Council's pest control operational manager in 1996. 

"I was 32 years in different boards."

 

 

 - Stuff

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