Tom Kellie

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Tom Kellie last won the day on June 16 2017

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About Tom Kellie

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    Order of the Pith

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    Central CHINA
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    ~ Learning from the experiences of the Safaritalk members who have such a wealth of knowledge of Africa, of bird, mammal, reptile, insect and plant species, and whose wildlife photography is superb.

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  1. ~ @JohnR: This has unexpectedly appeared. Tom K.
  2. ~ @AmyT You're spoiling us! Thank you for that sweet image. Makes my night. Tom K.
  3. ~ No problem. It's the same study. In any case, valuable research well worth publicizing. Tom K.
  4. ~ @inyathi Thank you for providing the link to Black Drongo information. I hesitate adding the following, as it may already be widely known, and I'm neither a birder nor an ornithologist. As my professional life is in a university life science department, it's possible to gather background information from colleagues with substantial experience. The bird species resident in southern China, including seasonal visitors, often don't venture north of the Yangtze. China's scale is such that the vegetation shifts and climate belts shift heading northward, such that southern birds have limited overlap with the region where I work. Save for southern Yunnan province, in areas directly bordering Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, the local area here has, by far, China's greatest biodiversity. That's the direct cause of my relocation here last summer, following 17 years in Beijing. Clear skies, no haze of particulate air pollution, clear stream water, virgin forests that have never known a saw blade and a remarkable mix of botanical species set apart this region. It's somewhat inconvenient to visit from the viewpoint of typical domestic tourists, which has been a positive factor limiting development. Were one to look at a map of China, this region is the center, the very heart of China, as it were. The northern and southern climatic zones meet here which is why wild bananas, gingko, fir and spruce grow side by side. ********************************************************************************************************************* This week colleagues kindly filled me in on the status of drongo species in this area. Dicrurus leucophaeus, Ashy Drogo, is a regular Summer visitor. Likewise Dicrurus hottentotus, Hair-crested Drongo, is another summer visitor, although I've yet to knowingly observe one. As to the hapless Dicrurus macrocercus, Black Drongo, in theory and in the distant past it might make it this far north in the summer. However... Once again a ‘culturally sensitive’ reality needs to be noted. Throughout China, careful distinctions between disparate subjects are often absent, such that what might otherwise appear to be self-evidently distinct is treated here as being the same as something else. While university-trained experts are generally aware of fine distinctions, few others care enough or see any point in what they regard as being “Western quibbling over nothing”. In other words, the attitude of “it's all the same” is deeply entrenched here, to the point of obviating disciplined consciousness of distinctions. A Black Drongo's distinctive forked tail and overall non-Corvid appearance is typically ignored here, where it's dismissed as being nothing more than another “crow”. Local cultural practices in regions south of here encourage the assiduous hunting and killing of all “crows”, including Black Drongos, based on various long-standing folk beliefs. Hence very few Black Drongos have made it this far north in recent decades, as the increased human population results in more would-be Nimrods. I'm grateful for your interest, kindness and erudition. If I do ever observe a Black Drongo here, I'll be sure to post news of it. With Appreciation, Tom K.
  5. ~ @Geoff There's more. This was the final week of instruction, hence hectic at times. After reading the @graceland thread I felt melancholy, hence haven't posted for several days. On this Tuesday morning I rode the city bus back to the mountain campus, north of the city where I work. Idly looking out the bus's window, facing eastward, I spotted not one but two more Ashy Drongos. They were perched on wires around a field, about 50 meters from one another. Their plumage color and unmistakable cleft tail feathers were identical to the bird I'd seen the previous afternoon. I've since asked an experienced local birder. She laughed, noting that Dicrurus leucophaeus, Ashy Drongo, is an annual visitor “for a few months in deep summer”, as she expressed it. She hadn't yet seen them this year, so surmised that they must have arrived within the past week. Now I know...and feel rewarded in triplicate. Tom K.
  6. ~ @Peter Connan It seems like a useful tool for those with access to it. Where I work and live it remains unavailable in functional form. It's great to know that it's usable with regard to lovely South African birds. Tom K.
  7. ~ @offshorebirder Thank you for spotting that and bringing it to our attention. If that's actually to be the case, what a shift, eh? Tom K.
  8. ~ @AmyT That's a cute shot, with her cub nestled down behind mom. Tom K.
  9. ~ @COSMIC RHINO This research has been posted in a previous thread.
  10. ~ @Geoff and @inyathi and @Soukous Against all odds: Dicrurus leucophaeus, Ashy Drongo. The city bus headed north to the mountain campus came to a complete halt two kilometers outside of a village. Intense police roadblock stopped kilometers of long-haul trucks, tankers, buses, and automobiles. The bus driver ordered everyone out, which was stressful as elderly, infirm ladies were aboard. Yours truly hiked approximately six kilometers, in dress shirt and necktie, up the foothills through hamlets, attracting ample gapes. Made it to the first final examination with minutes to spare, my daily exercise quota more than met. At the close of the day walked downhill to catch the city bus home, this time from the university gate. On the back lane a light grey bird with a strikingly forked tail was on an electrical line, swooped down to catch a bug on the concrete and returned upward. It's flight was somewhat like a bee-eater making a circuit to capture then eat. No camera with me today, but a clear sighting. After returning home, less than one hour ago, have sought double verification from local birders. Confirmed! I never even knew that such a species from Southeast Asia and India ever appeared here. It seems that they're summer breeders, then return south in early autumn. Your astute post this morning really touched me. It seems that the angels decided to make good on my comment. BTW: That's the only drongo I've ever observed outside of Africa. Tom K.
  11. ~ @Geoff I'm about to head out the door to the ‘mountain campus’ to proctor three consecutive final examinations. That's a lovely location with a remarkable variety of seldom seen bird species flitting around campus bushes and trees. Your post is the finest pre-workweek send-off I've had in years. I'll confess that I'm deeply moved by what you've written. You get it. For your thoughtful understanding of the chasm separating th free world from elsewhere, many heartfelt thanks. Who knows? I may spot a bird of interest today. If so, it's for you! Tom K.
  12. ~ @Geoff It's great that it's useful for you in Australia. The authorities here are wary and uncomfortable with regard to anything they perceive to be “foreign” and especially any digital application which utilizes mapping or GPS data. Therefore they, in effect, deactivate GPS devices on cameras sold here, block international mapping applications of all sorts and don't provide anything domestic which might tend to reveal anything about movement within this nation's borders. Birds might seem to be a fairly harmless, innocuous subject, but the view of authorities here tends to be sweeping and blunt, without such fine discrimination. Hence the eBird site is accessible here, which is how it was possible to post the link yesterday, but it doesn't work the way it was intended. That's somewhat comparable to Safaritalk being accessible here, but no videos posted on Safaritalk have ever been accessible or viewable during the two years that I've been a member. Is it any wonder that birding here largely consists of retired men carrying small cages with wild birds, which they hang up outside while seated with cronies, playing cards or kibbitzing all day? Tom K.
  13. A long journey on a hot day, Mostly spent snoozing in cool shade, Too young to hunt, too old to play, Calm, confident and unafraid. Everyone Gets in the Act Lean Little Lion Just Passing Through Within the Pride Graceful Dynamics Undeterred Slouching Towards Sunset Double Whorl Footfall Gilded Dusk Sincerity Becomes a Lion Moving Right Along
  14. ~ From the U.K. Guardian: “Anti-Poaching Drive Brings Siberia's Tigers Back from Brink”
  15. ~ This June, 2017 article from The Hindu compares the presence of leopards in two widely separated, crowded urban areas — Mumbai, India and Nairobi, Kenya. Leopards in and around Mumbai's Sanjay Gandhi National Park are contrasted with those in and around Nairobi National Park.

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