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ePostcard #159: Beringia Revealed

Artist Credit: Courtesy of the Yukon Beringia Interpretive Centre and paleoartist George Teichmann (Yukon and Czechoslovakia iceagebeasts.com). Born in Czechoslovakia and trained at the People's School of Art in Bohemia, George Teichmann began drawing ice age beasts...

ePostcard #158: Voices Across the Tundra

Photo Credits: All color photographs in this ePostcard are by Audrey DeLella Benedict (unless otherwise noted) and are from a 2009 Cloud Ridge Naturalists trip to the Russian Arctic and Wrangel Island with Heritage Expeditions. The archival black and white photographs...

ePostcard #156: Raven-Walking

Photo Credits: Haida artist Bill Reid’s cedar sculpture, The Raven and the First Men, shows Raven releasing humans from a cockle shell. The image is courtesy of photographer Kimon Berlin (CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via...

ePostcard #155: A Voyage to Haida Gwaii

Note of Acknowledgment: Cloud Ridge’s May 2022 voyage to Haida Gwaii—the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Haida people—enriched our understanding of the uniqueness of Haida Gwaii and the Haida culture. Visitors to the archipelago are asked to sign...

ePostcard #153: Extinction Matters

Illustration Credit: Woolly Mammoth painting courtesy of artist Mauricio Anton and Ecology Letters. DOI: 10.1111/ele.13911. UNDERSTANDING EXTINCTIONAsk any child to name an extinct animal, and most will tell you the name of their favorite dinosaur. But if you ask them...

ePostcard #152: Humans and Megafauna

Photo Credit: Courtesy of José Iriarte.ROCK ART EVIDENCEDateline: December 3, 2020. A major discovery at the archeological site of Cerro Azul in the Serranía La Lindosa, Colombia, provides proof that the Amazon rainforest’s earliest inhabitants lived alongside...

ePostcard #151: The Armadillo Bestiary

Photo Credit (above): Courtesy of Fernando Trujillo for IUCN. The Giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus) is one of the largest species of armadillos, and ranges in length from 2 to 3 feet. It is easily recognizable due to its powerful, enlarged central claw and the...

ePostcard #150: Darwin’s Megafauna

'It is impossible to reflect without the deepest astonishment, on the changed state of this continent. Formerly it must have swarmed with great monsters, like the southern parts of Africa, but now we find only the tapir, guanaco, armadillo, and capybara; mere pigmies...

ePostcard #148: Darwin’s Sloth

When I view all beings not as special creations, but as the lineal descendants of some few beings which lived long before the first bed of the Cambrian system was deposited, they seem to me to become ennobled. CHARLES DARWIN, On the Origin of the SpeciesPhoto Credits:...

ePostcard #147: Darwin’s Megafauna Bestiary (Part 1)

Image Credit: Courtesy of Sci-News (http://www.sci-news.com/paleontology/megatherium-fossil-argentina-09315.html) This life reconstruction of Megatherium by Sebastián Rozadilla honors the latest discovery in Argentina of what is thought to be one of the oldest-known...

ePostcard#145: Darwin, Geologist!

It is an old story, but not the less wonderful, to hear of shells, which formerly were crawling about at the bottom of the sea, being now elevated nearly fourteen hundred feet above its level. — Charles DarwinPhoto Credits: All courtesy of Audrey DeLella Benedict....

ePostcard #144: A Naturalist’s Bookshelf

A NATURALIST’S BOOKSHELFI subscribe to the stewardship vision best expressed by the great Senegalese environmentalist Baba Dioum—we are moved to conserve what we understand and love. Every so often, in researching the topics for our ePostcard series, I discover a book...

ePostcard #143: Fire and Ice: Volcán Osorno

Photo credits: All Volcán Osorno photos are courtesy of Audrey DeLella Benedict. This 8,724 foot high (2659 m) stratovolcano and its lava-bench waterfall are located in the stunningly beautiful "volcano country” of the Chilean Lake District.FIRE AND ICEWhen viewed...

ePostcard #142: Patagonian Glaciation

Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of Audrey Delella BenedictPATAGONIAN GLACIATIONThe extraordinary ice-sculpted scenery that captures the heart and imagination of everyone who visits Patagonia is the legacy of millions of years of glaciation and erosion. The...

ePostcard #138: Windows on the World

"Among the many thousands of things I have never been able to understand, onein particular stands out. That is the question of who was the first person who stood by a pile of sand and said ‘You know, I bet if we took some of this and mixed it with a little potash and...

ePostcard #137: Life in Glass Houses (Part 3)

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Hans Hillewaert and Wikimedia Commons. This amazing photograph of a tube-building marine worm (Lagis koreni) from the Oostendebank (Belgium) in the southern North Sea. The photo shows the sand grain-built tube and 24 mm-long trumpet worm that...

ePostcard #136: Life in Glass Houses (Part 2)

Scientific Illustration Credit: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain. Ernst Haeckel’s Kunstformen der Natur (1904), plate 71: Drawings by artist and zoologist Ernst Haeckel of the silica exoskeletons of Stephoidea (radiolarians). The individual radiolarian...

ePostcard #135: Life in Glass Houses (Part 1)

Photo Credit: Courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Gulf of Mexico 2012 Expedition (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License). Golden crab (Chaceon fenneri) and a colony of Venus flower basket glass sponges (Euplectella...

ePostcard #134: Glass in Nature (Part 9)

LIGHTNING STRIKES & FULGURITES “Fulgur” is the Latin word for lightning. Cicero, a philosopher of the Roman Empire era, used the expression “condere fulmina,” meaning “to dig up thunderbolts” —indicating early Romans had knowledge of fulgurite formation in sandy areas...

ePostcard #133: Glass in Nature (Part 8)

Photo Credit: Popigai diamonds courtesy of The Siberian Times (siberiantimes.com).DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGHThroughout its history, Earth has been repeatedly hit by large meteorites. Of the more than 60,000 meteorites that have been discovered on Earth, most come from the...

ePostcard #132: Glass in Nature (Part 7)

Illustration Credit: Courtesy of the Deccan Herald and Detlev van Ravenswaay/science source.  https://www.deccanherald.com/content/549533/learning-impact-changed-life-earth.html This illustration is an artist’s rendering of the 100-mile-wide asteroid strike...

ePostcard #131: Glass in Nature (Part 6)

Photo Credits: Artist’s conception of meteorite courtesy of researchers from Tohoku University, Hokkaido University, JAMSTEC, and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. A research team from Japan and the USA investigated carbon-rich meteorites and found ribose and other...

ePostcard #130: Glass in Nature (Part 5)

Photo Credit: Courtesy of NASA's Antarctic Search for Meteorites program and Daniel Glavin. NASA Goddard astrobiologist Daniel Glavin poses in 2002 next to a meteorite he had just found during an expedition in Antarctica.ANTARCTICA’S ASUKA (A)-12236 METEORITEDuring a...

ePostcard #129: Glass in Nature (Part 4)

Photo Credit:  Courtesy of Kelly Carroll and White Sands National Park (NPS).This stunning photo of the Milky Way over the dunes of White Sands National Park was part of an invitation to join park rangers in August 2021 to observe this year’s spectacular Perseid...

ePostcard #128: Glass in Nature (Part 3)

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Icelandic Meteorological Office (via phys.org). Dateline: Reykyavik, Iceland March 20, 2021.This dramatic image captures volcanic glass in the making in Iceland! A long-dormant volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwest Iceland...

ePostcard #127: Glass in Nature (Part 2)

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Brandon Markin, James Zigras and Avant Mining (Blue Springs, Arkansas). The "Bouquet" quartz cluster photographed here is displayed at Avant Mining, which has become the largest quartz crystal mining company in the world, with over 11,400...

ePostcard #126: Glass in Nature (Part 1)

Photo Credit: NASA/SOFIA/Lynette Cook. Artist’s impression of the collision of two protoplanets.BORN OF EARTH & FIREGlass is born of earth and fire, and our modern world would be unrecognizable without this remarkable material in our lives. Most people think of...

ePostcard #125: Sea Glass Lessons

Photo Credit: Sea glass photograph courtesy of the North American Sea Glass Association (NASGA) and Jane Claire McHenry (sea glass from Islamorada in the Florida Keys).When I was growing up, collecting sea glass was a favorite beach pastime in New England, the...

ePostcard #124: The Plastic Tsunami

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Florida Sea Grant. THE PLASTIC TSUNAMI Sea turtles have spent the past 100 million years roaming seas free of plastics. Today, the global impacts of plastic pollution on marine biodiversity are among the greatest environmental challenges of...

ePostcard #123: On Thin Ice!

ON THIN ICE!  When I need to recover my bearings as a science writer, I often circle back to my fascination with polar regions. Sea ice has been very much on my mind lately, and especially the prospect of an ice-free Arctic in the not so distant future. The extent and...

ePostcard #122: Fisheries Bycatch

Photo Credit: Courtesy of NOAA. A juvenile loggerhead sea turtle escapes a trawler net that has been quipped with a Turtle Excluder Device (TED). These sea turtle  "escape hatches” were originally developed to benefit both the commercial shrimp fishery and the marine...

ePostcard #121: Cold Stunning

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald (MIGUEL ROBERTS AP) Thousands of Atlantic green sea turtles and Kemp's ridley sea turtles suffering from cold stun are laid out to recover Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 at the South Padre Island Convention...

ePostcard #120: A Flipper of Hope

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tim Briggs, Northeastern University (Marine Biology), and the online journal Massive Science. (Green sea turtle, San Diego Bay) If there is danger in the human trajectory, it is not so muchIn the survival of our own species as in the...

ePostcard #119: Sea Turtle Magnetism (Part 5)

#1. Photo Credit: Satellite-tagged loggerhead photo courtesy of Argos System (argos-system.org). Loggerhead sea turtles begin their lives by migrating alone across the Atlantic Ocean and back. Eventually, after  more than two decades, the females return to nest on the...

ePostcard #118: Nightwatch: Hatchlings Away (Part 4)

Cover Photo (above) Credit and Caption: Having finally reached the wet, surf-hardened sand, this hatchling is in fast-forward mode on its final sprint to the sea. (Photo courtesy of Courtesy of Boca de Tomates Turtle Camp and Red Tortuguera A.C.)ePostcard #118:...

ePostcard #117: Nightwatch: From Sand to Sea (Part 3)

Cover Photo (above) Credit and Caption: Courtesy of Florida Fish & Wildlife. A “boil" of green sea turtle hatchlings emerges en masse from their deep nest hole in the sand. At hatching time, usually as the sun sets and the warm sand begins to cool, turtle...

ePostcard #115: Nightwatch–Sea Turtles at Risk (Part 1)

ePostcard #115: Nightwatch--Sea Turtles at Risk (Part 1)   Nearly all sea turtle biologists, sooner or later, become turtle conservationists …Peter Pritchard, “The Conservation of Sea Turtles,” 1980  The future of some of the Earth’s most incredible, resilient...

ePostcard #114: Nightwatch

ePostcard #114: Nightwatch “Managing darkness has to be an integral part of future conservation planning and illumination concepts.”    Dark Sky Association  The natural world is a busy place at night! As our human viewshed darkens, the mysterious sounds and...

ePostcard #113: The Black Marble

ePostcard #113: The Black Marble To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings. Wendell Berry   Experiencing the magic of a...

ePostcard #111: Aspen Leaf Dance

ePostcard #111: Leaf Dance Introduction: Before returning to our exploration of Tierra del Fuego, I want to step back to September and celebrate my home landscape in Colorado and the golden autumn that preceded our immersion in smoke and loss. These aspen photos are...

ePostcard #107: Leave it to Beaver (Tierra del Fuego)

ePostcard #107: Leave it to Beaver (Tierra del Fuego)  When you think about it, and despite our wildly divergent evolutionary lineages. beavers are among our closest ecological and technological kin. While all organisms have evolved to fill naturally-provided niches,...

ePostcard #105: Lichen Forests (Tierra del Fuego)

ePostcard #105: Lichen Forests (Tierra del Fuego) Exploring the beautiful lichen gardens that grace the trees and forest floor of the Magellanic rainforest in Tierra del Fuego opens a window on an amazing world. If you were able to count all of the different kinds of...

ePostcard #103: Under the Mistletoe (Tierra del Fuego)

ePostcard #103: Under the Mistletoe (Tierra del Fuego) The traditional yuletide mistletoes that most of us are familiar with are the native European species, Viscum album, and the native North American species, Phoradendron leucarpum. References to mistletoe date back...

ePostcard #102: In Darwin’s Footsteps: Pan del Indio

ePostcard #102: In Darwin's Footsteps: Pan del Indio   Darwin's famous fungus, ‘Pan del Indio’ (Indian Bread) in Spanish, belongs to a highly evolved group of parasitic fungi that grow exclusively on species of southern beech (Nothofagus spp.). As my photographs...

ePostcard #100: Celebrating Magellanic Clouds

ePostcard #100: Celebrating Magellanic Clouds #1. Photo Credit and Caption: Y. Beletsky (LCO)/ESO. The VISTA (the acronym for Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) is the most famous telescope at the Paranal Observatory. The observatory is located on...

ePostcard #96: Magellan’s Voyage (Part II)

ePostcard #96: Magellan's Voyage (Part II) Sea Passage to Rio de Janeiro  It was only the first leg of the voyage and the Armada de Molucca had already weathered 60 days of furious and unrelenting storms at sea. The men were exhausted, much of the expedition’s food...

ePostcard #92: The Age of Discovery

ePostcard #92: The Age of Discovery   Modern exploration had to be an adventure of the mind, a thrust of someone’s imagination, before it became a worldwide adventure of seafaring….The pioneer explorer was one lonely man thinking. —Daniel Boorstin, The...

ePostcard #84: Mystery of the Curious Wolf

click images to enlargeePostcard #84: Mystery of the Curious Wolf  Charles Darwin regarded the Falkland Island wolf as a compelling biological mystery to be solved, and his observations would set the stage for what would become one of the most amazing natural history...

ePostcard #77: Falkland Archipelago

click images to enlargeePostcard #77: Falkland Archipelago Winging westward, it climbseach step up to the naked blue:the entire sky is its tower,and the world is cleansed by its movement.—Pablo Neruda, Art of Birds The exquisite beauty of Steeple Jason Island would be...

ePostcard #75: The ‘Boss’ Goes Home!

Photo #1, above: Honoring Endurance! This photo was taken by Frank Hurley when the crew put the sails up trying one last time to free Endurance from the sea ice of the Weddell Sea. As we know, this and other attempts failed, and realizing the ship wasn’t moving Hurley...

ePostcard #74: The Final Rescue!

click images to enlargeePostcard #74: The Final Rescue! “Not a life lost, and we have been through Hell!” Ernest Shackleton This opening photo by Frank Hurley takes us back to where it all began—South Georgia. You can see the Endurance, dwarfed by her mountainous...

ePostcard #72: Across South Georgia!

click images to enlargeePostcard #72: Across South Georgia! It is impossible to describe the grueling, non-stop 36-hour alpine traverse of South Georgia without turning to the profound power of Shackleton’s own words. Shackleton, Crean and Worsley set off from...

ePostcard #71: South Georgia Bound!

click images to enlargeePostcard #71: South Georgia Bound! The perilous voyage of the James Caird from Elephant Island to South Georgia is ranked as one of the greatest boat journeys ever accomplished and is an achievement unique in the history of exploration....

ePostcard #70: Elephant Island!

click images to enlargeePostcard #70: Elephant Island! After months spent in makeshift camps on the northward drifting pack ice, the situation for Shackleton and his men had become increasingly dire. At Patience Camp in early March (photo #1; left to right: Wild,...

ePostcard #69: Drifting On Ice!

click images to enlargeePostcard #69: Drifting On Ice! By October, ceaseless pressure from pack ice would force the crew to abandon the Endurance. I can’t imagine what a profoundly emotional departure that must have been. With the ruin of their ship looming behind...

ePostcard #68: Endurance in a World of Ice!

click images to enlargeePostcard #68: Endurance in a World of Ice! The expedition arrived at South Georgia on November 5th 1914, and Shackleton and his men would learn much from the whaling captains about the conditions in the Weddell Sea. The would also receive the...

ePostcard #67: Endurance Underway!

ePostcard #67: Endurance Underway! As Germany declared war on Russia, August 1st, 1914, Shackleton left London on his ship the Endurance intending to be the first to successfully complete a trans-Antarctic expedition. It took 4 months to reach a whaling yard in South...

#66: Shackleton’s Endurance

ePostcard #66: Shackleton’s Endurance “We all have our White South.”Ernest Shackleton The harrowing tale of British explorer Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914–1917) has haunted me for nearly 40 years. Most historians regard it as the last...

ePostcard #65: Tern, Tern Tern!

ePostcard #65: Tern, Tern Tern!   Turn! Turn! Turn!To every thing there is a season, A time to be born, and a time to die.A time to mourn, and a time to heal. A time to break down, and a time to build up.A time to weep, and a time to laugh,A time to embrace, and...

ePostcard #64: Albatross Morning (South Georgia)

ePostcard #64: Albatross Morning (South Georgia)  Albatrosses are some of the most iconic species in the Southern Ocean, but they also serve as sentinels for the challenges faced by albatross populations worldwide. South Georgia is home to globally significant...

ePostcard #63: Chinstraps on Ice (South Georgia)

ePostcard #63: Chinstraps on Ice (South Georgia)  Chinstrap penguins, and their close relatives the Adélie and gentoo penguins, are members of the brush-tailed genus Pygoscelis. The great antiquity and fossil record of penguins has always intrigued me and I’m hoping...

ePostcard #62: South Georgia Pintail

ePostcard #62: South Georgia Pintail The endemic South Georgia pintail duck is the world’s most southerly waterfowl species. This beautiful pintail resides on South Georgia and nearby Bird Island year-round and is non-migratory, well-adapted to some of the most...

ePostcard #61: Glaciers in Retreat

ePostcard #61: Glaciers in Retreat  Isolated in the Southern Ocean, South Georgia is truly a sentinel at the leading edge of global climate change. South Georgia is known for its ice caps and glaciers, and over the last few million years they have sculpted some of the...

ePostcard #60: Rock Fugue (South Georgia)

ePostcard #60: Rock Fugue (South Georgia)   Shaken, not stirred.—James Bond  To a geologist, rocks are richly-illustrated narratives—stories of deep earth cataclysm and landscape transformation over billions of years. To a biologist, rocks and landforms provide...

ePostcard #58: Whale Tears (South Georgia)

ePostcard #58: Whale Tears (South Georgia)  The total harvest of marine mammals around South Georgia represents a slaughter which has never been matched around the world. The whaling stations built by the Norwegian and British whaling industry were large-scale...

ePostcard #57: Whaling Rust

ePostcard #57: Whaling Rust When you first visit Grytviken you are, quite simply, stunned into silence. In November of 1904 the Norwegian, C. A. Larsen, with experience whaling in Arctic waters, established the first whaling enterprise on South Georgia at Grytviken....

ePostcard #49: Penguins, Penguins Everywhere!

ePostcard #49: Penguins, Penguins Everywhere! Penguins undeniably assume center stage for most visitors to South Georgia, and the cast of characters includes king, gentoo, chin-strap and macaroni penguins. This pre-dawn trip (2018) to the enormous king penguin colony...

ePostcard #47: Bound for South Georgia!

ePostcard #47: Bound for South Georgia! You never forget your first glimpse of South Georgia—the Antarctic oasis where alpine glaciers give way to tussock-dotted headlands and beaches covered with thousands of king penguins, elephant seals, and Antarctic fur seals....

ePostcard #46: Ice Requiem

ePostcard #46: Ice Requiem  In this time of accelerating global climate change in polar regions, we need to think about the complex and interdependent ecosystems that have evolved in association with ice in all of its forms. What I’ve shared in these East...

ePostcard #45: Adélie Penguins at Risk

ePostcard #45: Adélie Penguins at Risk Understanding the impacts of global climate perturbations on penguins is especially complex in polar regions. Adélie penguins are critically important as ecosystem sentinels because they are sea-ice dependent and their survival...

ePostcard #42: Mother’s Day in Adélie Land

ePostcard #42: Mother's Day in Adélie Land It is “mud season” in the Adélie penguin colony at Cape Denison. As you can see in this ridge-perched colony of Adélies, sunny spring days have left a few lingering patches of snow. As I sat and watched, Adélie penguins were...

ePostcard # 38: Megaherb Discoveries

ePostcard # 38: Megaherb Discoveries You know how much I enjoy questions! Yesterday’s ePostcard #37, Megaherb Mysteries, prompted lots of questions and encouraged me to dig into the most recent literature to find out what botanists are discovering about these...

ePostcard #37: Megaherb Mysteries

ePostcard #37: Megaherb Mysteries Botanists continue to be puzzled by the prevalence of outsized leaves and flowers—the so-called megaherb flora—of the subantarctic islands. It is not known whether the megaherbs are relics of an ancient, more widespread flora that...

ePostcard #36: Crested Penguins (Royals and Snares)

ePostcard #36: Crested Penguins (Royals and Snares) Crested penguins, every species, just make you smile—you can’t help yourself! The large and fascinating genus Eudyptes includes both crested and rock hopper penguins. The first two of my photos are of royal (crested)...

ePostcard #35: Yellow-eyed Penguins

ePostcard #35: Yellow-eyed Penguins   The yellow-eyed penguin is a New Zealand endemic and one of the rarest and most endangered species of penguin in the world. The Maori name for the yellow-eyed penguin is “hoiho,” which means “noise-maker.” This makes me...

ePostcard #34: Fascinating Tubenoses

ePostcard #34: Fascinating Tubenoses Seabirds live at the mercy of wind and wave, superbly adapted to thrive in one of the most demanding but productive environments on Earth—the ocean. For millions of years, the global ocean has served as “home away from home” for...

ePostcard #26: The Galápagos Penguin

ePostcard #26: The Galápagos Penguin My dear friend and colleague, Dr. Dee Boersma, has been at the forefront of Galápagos penguin research for more than 45 years. Her landmark book, Penguins: Natural History and Conservation, with co-editor Pablo Garcia Borboroglu,...

ePostcard #25: Blue-footed Boobies (Galápagos)

ePostcard #25: Blue-footed Boobies (Galápagos) Blue-footed boobies live along the western coasts of Central and South America, from Mexico to Peru. The Galápagos Islands population includes about half of all breeding pairs of blue-footed boobies. These beautiful...

ePostcard #24: Flightlessness Works (Galápagos)

 on ePostcard #24: Flightlessness Works (Galápagos) In his seminal work, On the Origin of Species, Darwin suggested that there were evolutionary consequences for animals resulting from what he referred to as “the use and disuse” of various anatomical parts. Unlike...

ePostcard #23: Bodacious Reds (Galapagos Islands)

ePostcard #23: Bodacious Reds (Galapagos Islands)  The color red—bold and eye-catching in plants and animals—provokes our curiosity as naturalists in ways that few other colors do. Exploring the evolution and science behind how animals perceive color in their world is...

ePostcard #22: Darwin’s Islands (Galapagos)

ePostcard #22: Darwin’s Islands (Galapagos)  We begin our Island Biodiversity ePostcard series with a sailing schooner voyage to the Galapagos Islands aboard the S/S Sagitta—a dream come true for any naturalist. The Galapagos Archipelago, a scattering of small...

ePostcard #21: Protea Splendor

ePostcard #21: Protea Splendor On the southwestern tip of the African continent, South Africa’s famous Cape Floral Kingdom (or fynbos) is a center of diversity for one of the most spectacular flowering plant families in the world—the Proteaceae. The two main centers...

ePostcard #20: Rock Hyrax (South Africa)

ePostcard #20: Rock Hyrax (South Africa) If you haven’t heard of hyraxes, which are called “ dassies” in South Africa, you are not alone. Hyraxes inhabit rocky terrain across sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. At first glance, the rock hyrax appears rodent-like...

ePostcard #19: Meerkats (South Africa)

ePostcard #19: Meerkats (South Africa)   My fascination with meerkats goes back nearly fifty years. Spotting my first meerkat standing “sentinel” atop a termite mound in a sea of African daisies brought me to a standstill, binoculars raised. These fascinating...

ePostcard #17: Bovidae Diversity (Namibia)

ePostcard #17: Bovidae Diversity (Namibia) African biodiversity has been a recurring theme throughout this series of ePostcards. With this postcard, I offer a fresh photographic canvas for exploring biodiversity within a single family—the Bovidae (antelopes and...

ePostcard #16: Nectar Lovers

ePostcard #16: Nectar Lovers When South Africa's fynbos and succulent shrublands are in full bloom, watching sunbirds is a visual meditation, their gem-like colors--emerald, sapphire, ruby, and topaz--sparkling in the sunshine. Sunbirds are members of the family...

ePostcard #13: Sociable Weavers

ePostcard #13: Sociable Weavers Sociable weavers, which are endemic to southwestern Africa, are members of a gregarious group of sparrow-like finch species. These weavers are best known for constructing—grass blade by grass blade—enormous communally-thatched nests....

ePostcard #12: Zebra Society

ePostcard #12: Zebra Society Burchell’s zebra, unlike the more familiar mountain zebra, has a stripe pattern that features a distinctive brown “shadow” stripe that can be seen between the black stripes. This pattern is especially prominent on the hind quarters. Each...

ePostcard #11: An Elephant’s Life

ePostcard #11: An Elephant's Life In Namibia’s Etosha National Park, waterholes and elephants are a magical combination when you want to observe elephant behavior. Elephants of different ages are often present and this makes it especially fun to just sit and watch the...

ePostcard #8: Life in the Sand (Namibia)

E-Postcard #8: Life in the Sand (Namibia)   Rows 1, 2 and 3: Travel with me to the dune country of Namibia. The dunes of the Namib Sand Sea cover most of the southwestern portion of Namibia, an area roughly 93 miles (150 km) wide and 248 miles (400 km) long. The...

ePostcard #7: Camouflage Perfected!

E-Postcard #7: Camouflage Perfected! The current standing order for “sheltering in place” takes on a very different meaning in the natural world. Survival for some animals in the wild depends on camouflage (or cryptic) coloration or patterning, an adaptation that...

ePostcard #6: Tide pooling anyone?

E-Postcard #6: Tide pooling anyone? A tide pool walk along the Cape Peninsula is an amazing experience! Patrick Cardwell, our South African guide and a naturalist in the classic tradition, opened our eyes to an extraordinary world. None of my images have been...

ePostcard #4

E-Postcard #4: South Africa is famous the world over for the incredible diversity and beauty of its native flora. Although it represents less than 1 percent of the world’s total land surface, South Africa accounts for 10 percent of all known species of flowering...

ePostcard #3: Giraffes

Greetings! The excellent 2018 documentary, The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, is based on the life of Dr. Anne Innis Dagg, the Canadian zoologist, feminist and pioneer in the study of animal behavior in the wild. Dagg is credited with being the first to study wild giraffes...

ePostcard #2 Rhinos

Greetings! During my 40-year career as a naturalist guide, I’ve often been teased for my bias towards exploring remote islands in Polar regions, glaciated landscapes almost anywhere, and iceberg-dotted fjords. I’d been fascinated by Africa since childhood, but the...

ePostcards – Intro

Greetings, I launched our Cloud Ridge ePostcard Blog in late March of 2020, as the unfolding tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic encircled the globe in a shroud of sadness. With the help of our skilled webmaster, Clyde Lovett, I wanted to provide a respite from the daily...