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Interview with a naturalist - Duncan Fraser

Duncan Fraser is a citizen scientist. I interviewed him to find out where his interest in nature and photographing it all began.

Where did your interest in nature start Duncan?

I was born in 1935. In the early 40's we used to catch yabbies at the Caulfield Race Track dam in Melbourne. I used to collect Emperor gum caterpillars as well. Kids in those days used to love catching yabbies.

I visited my uncle's farm at Gippsland; at a place called Bellbird Corner, near Maffra. We moved there in 1945. A while later I moved to Maffra and I joined the Ben Crauchan Walking Club. I met a great naturalist who inspired me. His name was Bob Rummph. He loved native plants and he started me off.

I went from plants to birds and joined a local bird watching club in 1962. I began photographing plants in 1962. I got a Practica camera.

In 1975 I met another great naturalist named Bill Cane. He was a great pioneer of propagating native plants and he was also an apiarist (bee keeper). The places I explored as a child and the great people I met exploring nature inspired a life long interest in it.

How many photos have you taken over the years?

Tens of thousands.

What drives you to photograph nature, bugs in particular?

There's such a huge range of insects; the beauty of them. They have fantastic capabilities. The way a dragonfly can fly is amazing. Insects have wonderful adaptations. There's an insect for every environment; doesn't matter what type of habitat, they'll be there. They're just so interesting!

Photographing them is satisfying - when you get a good image. It's a challenge.

It's also the challenge of identify them.

Have you made any interesting discoveries?

I found some interesting plants in areas they hadn't been previously seen. Ziera robusta I found in Moroka Gorge for the first time and Prostantha incarna I discovered at McDonald Gap Track. They were both new records for Victoria at that time.

Duncan Fraser has volunteered his time to share his knowledge with kids at Maffra Swamp Bug Blitz. Duncan was one of the early Landcare people. The group restored the Maffra Swamp and turned it to the functioning natural wetland it is today.

Check out Duncan's latest photos.Photo: Duncan Fraser 2011Photo: Duncan Fraser 2011Photo: Duncan Fraser 2011