Jeff Clarke Ecology

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Updates and photos from around the world on my travels both through pleasure and work

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Click on the images to view them at full size. Just uttering the words Kruger National Park can set the pulse racing and the synapses jangling. As the wheels of the 30-passenger jet kissed the tarmac at Skukuza, the excitement was palpable. We descended the steps at this tiny air strip, in the heart of the park, and were struck by a wall of heat and the ever-present caroo-ing of Mourning and African Turtle Doves. Hire car loaded, we exited the security gate. The speed limit is 50kph on tarmacked roads, 40kph on gravel. If you want to spot wildlife 25kph, or less, works better. We had an internal bet as to what big game we would spot first. Not a kilometre from the airport gate we found ourselves gawping at something akin to four ginormo...
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Click on the images to view at full size. Just a two-hour drive north of Cape Town, there is a kingdom of flowers and birds. The West Coast National Park abuts the Eastern Atlantic and sits barely an ostriches-stride south of the coastal town of Langabaan. Our second base, on the very southern edge of the town, had a small, high-walled, garden, that nevertheless attracted plenty of interesting birds, including Acacia Pied Barbet and Red-faced Mousebird, partly because it was the last house before an undeveloped, fynbos covered, promontory viewpoint overlooking Shark Bay. Red-faced Mousebird family group, Langabaan Dec 2022 © Jeff Clarke Acacia Pied Barbet Langabaan Dec 2022 © Jeff Clarke A walk on the pro...
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South Africa - Part 1: Of Baai's and Zen Click on the images to view them at full size. Almost horizontal, barefoot and embraced by a warm zephyr. We casually scan the glittering wavelets of freshwater. All is not tranquil, because close at hand elemental forces are playing and there is a constant infrasound rumble as, a kilometre away to our right, the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean are dissipating their power on a strand of sand separating the lagoon from the salt water. The noise is, distinctly uplifting and strangely soporific. My body is experiencing a rare condition. I am blissfully relaxed in an, almost catatonic, meditative state. The view of the Klein Lagoon from the veranda © Jeff Clarke When you fina...
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Alaska Click on images to view at full size. Leviathan A dark presence looms in the water below our hull, while two radiating shafts of white swirl and twist, attached but seemingly independent of the whole. A barnacle encrusted fluke lifts clear and appears to be dripping salty tears. Its trajectory surely destined to slice into the side of our, suddenly tiny, craft, but the whale understands its proportions and the tail sinks back into the drink, leaving eddying whirlpools at the surface to mark the point of departure. The faces of the humans carried on this vessel are universally contorted into beaming smiles and glittering eyes. We are small. Momentarily insignificant when measured against the mass of the leviathan. Bu...
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All images are authentic to the tour and copyright © Jeff Clarke unless otherwise stated. Click on images to view at full size. I’d just returned from a dramatically foreshortened cruise, where a five-week tour had been truncated to one-week due to Covid-19 complications, so you’d imagine I’d be sceptical about accepting an offer to join Viking Jupiter in Chile, with just two weeks’ notice to embarkation. As someone who is generally one of life’s optimists, I perceived the logistical hurdles as surmountable and the pull of possibilities as irresistible. So it was that Laura and I boarded Viking Jupiter in the early afternoon of 11th February 2022. The ship would spend two nights in Valparaíso before departure. On embarkati...
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