Jeff Clarke Ecology

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Takahe-Zealandia-Dec-2015-JJC.jpg
All images © Jeff Clarke 2016 unless otherwise stated ‘The Land of Birds’ adrift from Gondwana for 65 million years was utterly unique. No land mammals, except for bats, were to be found on this micro-continent. As a result the birds that arrived to populate it were able to diversify into many forms and occupy many of the niches that the mammals would otherwise exploit. A number of species became flightless and some like the Moa became giants. Moa The above image is from New Zealand Birds Online a great resource for visiting birders. The Maori arrived from Polynesia sometime after 1250 and from that moment the extinction crisis began. In less than 100 years the Moa were exterminated, eaten by the Maori, though rumours p...
©Jeff Clarke & NZBirds Online
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The thing about New Zealand is that it’s a lot bigger than you think it is and it also takes longer to get to places than you expect. In 2012 we had to give up on the idea of getting to Stewart Island/Rakiura but this time we rectified the omission by scheduling a three day visit. To get there you cross the Foveaux Strait from Bluff by ferry (or small plane). Just before we boarded I jokingly mentioned to my Wife and friends that it was usually referred to as the ‘Notorious’ Foveaux Strait. They had the last laugh as I was the one who succumbed to seasickness on the one-hour rollercoaster crossing. I noted a few White-capped Albatrosses trailing in our wake, but the swell and the spray made birding untenable. We stayed at the lovely...
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During my recent tour of New Zealand I had been particularly keen to see New Zealand Falcons, partly because I love birds of prey, but also because I’d failed to connect on my previous visit. Almost half way through our three-week tour we reached Wanaka and we still had not found a falcon. We called at the local D.O.C. tourist office and they suggested a location where there had been recent sightings so, that evening, we set out to a locality near the Hawea River. Our instructions involved a 3km walk out to a site from the local campground. My mate Ian had a foot injury so we gave him a stick to bite on as we toiled toward our suggested location. 2 Hours and 6km later, in failing light, we had singularly failed to find any falcons and I...
©Jeff Clarke and Ian Appleton
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Some places draw you back time and again. Such a place is Kaikoura in New Zealand. The town itself is great and has a laid back, environmentally conscious, vibe. The setting is special too but what draws me back is the wealth of ocean-going wildlife. You can engage with it in a whole variety of ways but my personal favourite is via Encounter Kaikoura. They get me, and thousands like me, intimately acquainted with albatrosses and numerous other species of tubenose as well as giving me the opportunity to get in the water with the local Dusky Dolphins. For a seabird and cetacean nut like me what could be sweeter? A view of the Seaward Kaikoura range from the Albatross Encounter boat All images © Jeff Clarke 2015 ( Click on the image...
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I love my encounters with nature, from the small scale and regular to the big ticket events. Some days stand out for a particular moment, some for the variety of encounters and then you get those rare days when it all comes together. Such was my much anticipated pelagic trip into the Hauraki Gulf with Pterodrdoma Pelagics led by Chris Gaskin. A ten hour pelagic on a relatively small vessel is a daunting prospect, especially if you are a martyr to sea-sickness, thankfully I had taken the magical Kaikoura Cracker and the benign conditions ensured a comfortable trip. The main danger was sunburn.  We had barely left the harbour at Sandspit when we got out first close look at a Little Blue Penguin. However we couldn’t linger, the pl...
©All text and images copyright Jeff Clarke 2015
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