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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It was a Golden Wedding celebration weekend for my Parents-in-law and I'd taken my wildlife camera gear more in hope than expectation. During a brief hiatus in proceedings I met up with Paul, my brother-in-law, cameras in hand, at Budby Common for a 2 hour sojourn. The light was poor and I thought I might not even press the shutter.

Even when there is nothing to see or photograph Budby is a fine place to walk. After an hour I thought that was all it would be, but the sound of crossbills caught my ear and I watched the flock land in some smallish Scot's Pines, just a couple of hundered metres away on the heath. Paul had never seen crossbill so I suggested we make our way to the pines and 'pish out' the crossbills and see if we could photograph them.

©Jeff Clarke 2013
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In recent days the Cheshire Mammal Group (CMaG) have begun  a series of surveys in search of a mouse. This mouse is feisty and seems to relish getting it's gnashers buried in a handlers digits. This mouse gets due respect. This mouse is the Yellow-necked Mouse.

It was first found in Cheshire in 2011 and at the same site in 2012, on the southern boundary of the county, in the Wych Valley on the border with Shropshire. We wanted to know if that was its northward limit. So we planned a survey to help us plot its distribution which entailed pulling together our collective trap resources. So, on the morning of 29th November 2013, I was assisted by fellow mammalogist, Paul Hill, to prep 240 Longworth and Trip Traps. 8 pints of casters, a packet and a half of dark chocolate digestive biscuits, many pints of grain and copious amounts of hay later, were ready to roll.

©Jeff Clarke Ecology 2013
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Having spent almost a month exploring just a small part of New Zealands natural wealth it was time to head for home. However the final fling involved an early morning ferry ride across the Cook Strait and one more chance to enjoy those dainty Fairy Prions. Around 6.30am in the morning we departed the small town of Picton and headed up the Malborough Sounds. Many birds were evident as we steamed along including Fluttering Shearwaters and a few Little Blue Penguin. Before long we were clearing North Island and ploughing a furrow through a thick picket line of prions. Almost all the way to Wellington we were entertained royally by these delightful and fragile looking tubenoses. The calm and sunny conditions allowed me to reel of hundreds of ...
©Jeff Clarke 2013
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Duskies {yoogallery src=[/images/stories/blog/duskydolphins]} Swimming with the Hector's Dolphins in Akaroa had been truly euphoric, so I was keen to repeat the exercise with the famous Dusky Dolphins of Kaikoura. Adele and I joined an early morning excursion with Dolphin Encounter and before long we had found a large pod of Duskies. We plunged into a 1000ft of water, though as I was snorkeling without weights I could barely get more than a few feet below the surface due to the buoyancy of my wetsuit. Before long I was engulfed by dolphins. This was one of their first big pods of the year with over 300 dolphins around us. Barely a few seconds would go by when one or more were not fizzing around you, clicking and whistling as they went...
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The Alpine Parrot {yoogallery src=[/images/stories/blog/arthurspass]} Kaikoura is four hours from Arthur's Pass. When you have journeyed over 20,000 miles that's not far too travel to enjoy a long held ambition. Every naturalist will recognise that urge to see for yourself those creatures that you have read about, or maybe watched on television. Arthur's Pass is home to one of those much-coveted animals. Not only that but this thing has charisma, a touch of devilment and high intelligence. It is none other than that high altitude parrot the Kea. Kea's have a beak like a tin-opener and a brain like a mensa candidate. A lethal combination for the unwary. This parrot likes to play and one of its favourite games is dismantling bits of vis...
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