Laura Young

Laura has worked widely in the South Island mountains for over a decade, undertaking a MSc on Aciphylla reproductive biology then a PhD on seed dispersal of alpine plants, as well as being involved in many vegetation surveys and kea monitoring. She is also a keen tramper and hunter who fancies herself as a bit of a modern-day naturalist, keen to share her reflections with fellow ecologists.

Summer in the mountains – return of the kea gangs - Guest Work

Jan 31, 2020

Peak summertime can feel like a wonderful place in the South Island mountains. This year it feels alive, almost burgeoning with young kea fledglings in some places. Twin Stream valley (near Glentanner), for instance, has had a group of at least 12 young kea through January 2020. Some of them are shown in this incredible photo (above), captured by Peter Könitzer who has recently contributed to the kea sightings database. Fledglings generally refer to those which have recently fledged the nesting site. Kea fledging generally occurs around Dec-Jan but of course can happen any time outside of that depending on the seasonal abundance and availability of food resources, weather and climate conditions, breeding success, predators and a range of other factors. Fledgling kea (first years) are most readily distinguished from other older kea by the bright white-yellow crown feathers (top … Read More

Unexpected animal encounters in the mountains - Guest Work

Apr 13, 2016

I’ll never forget going hunting in the mountain ranges between Lewis Pass and the St James, glassing the tops for red deer and chamois, when through the corner of my binoculars I caught a glimpse of a bunch of slow-moving, large animals. For a moment, I thought I had gotten onto the biggest mob of deer I’d ever seen (hunted wild meat is the only meat I eat, so life depended on it)!  Alas, on second glance they certainly didn’t have four legs, they weren’t the right colour and they had extremely long black necks. A flock of Canada geese ambled their way effortlessly up the mountainside through the tall tussocks towards a subalpine tarn (a mountain lake).  That was not the only time I’ve noticed this phenomenon.  Another unexpected encounter took place when I arrived with my teammates at a … Read More