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Jambo, 你好, Aloha from Tom Kellie in Beijing


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#1 Tom Kellie

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 03:57 PM

~ Safaritalk first came to my attention when overheard in a conversation in the lounge of a Samburu, Kenya lodge. From the initial perusal of the Web site to the present, it provided perspectives entirely different from anything I'd experienced. The sheer variety and depth of experiences presented in trip reports...the savvy awareness of wildlife and tour operator realities throughout Africa...the intensely heartfelt concern for the well being of African wildlife...the sincere respect of African culture in all its forms...the zany wit, the occasional improbable misadventures, the passionately realized dreams — the Safaritalk community's descriptions were completely dissimilar from my own safaris, yet fascinating and instructive.

 
While enjoying the discussions, repartee, reports and photos, my own comparatively sedate and subdued safaris were such that I never considered joining Safaritalk. After all, with such gifted safari raconteurs and deeply experienced wildlife photographers, nothing I might add would be of any significance. My own safaris and nature photography are primarily intended to inform and inspire my students in Beijing, whose experience is largely limited to computer screens and textbooks. In my Safaritalk profile there is a summary of my safari experience. 
 
What prompted me to join was seeking information about a possible stay in the Emakoko beside Nairobi National Park. I mentioned to them that I'd read a favorable description of the Emakoko by @Game Warden. After doing so, I thought that it might be best to join. When I posted a reply and two photos to “What is your favourite African bird?” — Euplectus macrourus — I was surprised to be invited by @Game Warden to add a new member post here. Many thanks also to @JohnR for liking the bird post.
 
What more to add? 
 
Following are photos taken during a safari in August, 2014 by my former student, CHEN Jian, 陈健, now a graduate student in the geophysics program of Auburn University. As a group they introduce my life on safari more deftly than anything I might type. To all Safaritalk members, many, many thanks — Asante sana — for your love of nature and your enduring commitment to beauty wherever you find it.
 
                                          Tom Kellie
 
waiting.jpg
Waiting for the safari van to arrive at Nairobi's Sirona Hotel
 
in the field.jpg
Hard at work in Masai Mara, or so I claim
 
technique.jpg
What kind of camera technique is this?
 
entrance weaver.jpg
While waiting at Lake Nakuru National Park Entrance Office — typical behavior
 
listening.jpg
Listening to friend, guide and fellow photographer Anthony Gitau at the south end of Lake Nakuru
 
giraffe.jpg
Action portrait in the safari van on a drizzling Masai Mara afternoon
 
succulent garden.jpg
In one of my favorite places on Earth — the succulent garden of the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi
 
rainstorm.jpg
Someone wasn't very happy — caught in a downpour at the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi, following a safari
 
mara sopa rosť.jpg
Enjoying the day's photos on the terrace of the Mara Sopa Lodge with a chilled bottle of South African Fish Hoek rosé

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#2 TonyQ

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 04:15 PM

@Tom Kellie

Welcome to Safaritalk


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#3 Tdgraves

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 04:29 PM

Welcome
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#4 JohnR

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Posted 26 March 2015 - 05:06 PM

Glad you joined us.


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What pays stays.
 

#5 Tom Kellie

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Posted 27 March 2015 - 05:03 AM

~ Many thanks, @TonyQ, @Tdgraves, and @JohnR.

#6 COSMIC RHINO

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Posted 27 March 2015 - 07:44 AM

welcome to our community


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Wild Africa is in my blood. All life is sacred and interconnected. for the animals are fellow nations caught in the splendor and trevail of the earth.


#7 Kitsafari

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Posted 27 March 2015 - 09:31 AM

@Tom Kellie welcome! 

 

I stayed in Emakoko for a night in February, and it's a most welcoming, warm, and comfortable place. you are at the doorstep of the park, so you won't need to drive in and out gates to see the wildlife in the park. I was surprised by the number of wildlife in the park since I had expected a rather dull, empty place crammed in by the city. But animals seem to thrive there. 

 

Anton (Anthony) is a very friendly and very warm person. I regretted not being able to stay up to chat with him on more things but he has had years of experience (including guiding) and he treats guests like they are friends. 

 

Hope you get to enjoy the camp as much as I did. 

 

and that's a beautiful bird Euplectus Macrourus - I've never seen it before. must keep on my list of "look-outs". 


Edited by Kitsafari, 27 March 2015 - 09:35 AM.

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#8 Tom Kellie

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Posted 27 March 2015 - 09:34 AM

~ Thanks a lot, @COSMIC RHINO.

 

I've learned much from your ongoing posts concerning South Africa.



#9 Tom Kellie

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Posted 27 March 2015 - 09:50 AM

~ Oh my goodness, @Kitsafari, thanks so much!

 

Your favorable recommendation of the Emakoko is enough to push me past hesitation to making a booking.

 

What struck me about that male Euplectus macrourus was it's nonchalant attitude toward the safari van's presence. It seemed aware of our presence, but was so caught up in the whirl of its own reality that we were little more than supporting players in the day's events.

 

At that time nature photography was more miss than hit for me, yet the bird's indifference made it possible to snap the shutter enough to obtain a few keepers.

 

Your posts within “Lions, Leopards and the Lipault Ladies” rang so true, even though your overall experience was refreshingly unique.

 

The candor and down-to-earth spirit of you, @SafariChick and @graceland brought smiles and frequent laughs while alternately grading student papers and reading.

 

It's really nice of you to encourage a visit to the Emakoko. I'll be sure to let you know how a stay there went.


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#10 Geoff

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 11:48 AM

G'day & welcome Tom,  your ST profile is interesting reading and I'd consider you have a wealth of safari knowledge and experience to share.


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Geoff.

#11 Sangeeta

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 06:27 PM

@Tom Kellie - thank you for introducing yourself so interestingly on ST. Welcome aboard!
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Zindagi na milegi dobara... Chalo Africa
You only live once...Go To Africa

www.chaloafrica.com


#12 Tom Kellie

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 06:51 PM

@Tom Kellie - thank you for introducing yourself so interestingly on ST. Welcome aboard!

 

 

~ It's very nice of you, @Sangeeta, to say so.

 

Thanks also to @Geoff.

 

I've felt warmly welcomed by Safaritalk members.

 

It took a number of visits to grasp how the site functions, as I'm not especially skilled with technology.

 

The patient guidance of @Game Warden has steered me toward optimal use of site tools and appropriate postings.

 

I've been adding photos here and there to various “Show us your __________ photos” topics, especially those which have been relatively fallow.

 

In doing so, as in reading archived trip reports, my understanding of Safaritalk has increased. The more I read and the more photos I enjoy, the more I understand what I need to be doing to improve.

 

Four weeks from today I'll be back in Nairobi to begin another mini-safari. During that visit I'll put to use several ideas gleaned from Safaritalk.

 

The consistently high quality of the posts has impressed me, drawing me back to Safaritalk each day.

 

Yet the real attraction has been the gracious interaction with Safaritalk members.

 

The very first notification I received was a ‘Like’ from @Game Warden of a post. Considering his years of experience and thousands of posts read, I was moved and surprised that he would acknowledge mine.

 

It's been like that for the past two weeks. I respond very positively to gracious badinage, perhaps as that's how I was raised.

 

In the morning — Saturday here in Beijing — there are life science undergraduate classes to teach. After that, rest, then replying to e-mail. If at all possible I'll prepare and post a trip report within the next few days, although I've yet to grasp how it would be initiated as a new topic. If I fumble around, no doubt @Game Warden or other moderators will gently but firmly set me straight.

 

                     With Appreciation,

 

                                                    Tom K.



#13 graceland

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 08:13 PM

@Tom Kellie

 

I never really welcomed you to ST but I have commented and deeply appreciated your photo contributions, as well as your ability to pull from the archives many beautifully written safari reports, along with their photographs for us to enjoy with you all over again.

 

I have a feeling you are going to be a very interesting and informative asset to this forum! I look forward to hearing more of your safaris, and I am always impressed when the latin name of a flower or plant is known. In my very first garden, I put in  little stakes with the latin name and the common name printed on each.

 I retained them way back then, but five homes later, I slowly have forgotten UNTIL I recognize it again in a posting here!

 

Thanks so far for your delightful entries.

 

BTW that is one huge camera lens. I still use a point and shoot :D  

 

G.


Edited by graceland, 03 April 2015 - 08:14 PM.

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#14 Tom Kellie

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Posted 03 April 2015 - 09:19 PM

 

graceland

Posted Today, 04:13 AM

@Tom Kellie

 

I never really welcomed you to ST but I have commented and deeply appreciated your photo contributions, as well as your ability to pull from the archives many beautifully written safari reports, along with their photographs for us to enjoy with you all over again.

 

I have a feeling you are going to be a very interesting and informative asset to this forum! I look forward to hearing more of your safaris, and I am always impressed when the latin name of a flower or plant is known. In my very first garden, I put in  little stakes with the latin name and the common name printed on each.

 I retained them way back then, but five homes later, I slowly have forgotten UNTIL I recognize it again in a posting here!

 

Thanks so far for your delightful entries.

 

BTW that is one huge camera lens. I still use a point and shoot  :D

 

 

 

~ Thank you very much @graceland!

 

There was considerable hesitation about joining and becoming active in Safaritalk. The years of rich experience of the more advanced Safaritalk members were daunting, in that I'm a relative newbie to both Africa and safaris, hence unlikely to have much of genuine value to contribute.

 

It was @Game Warden's unexpected ‘Like’ for my original post, and the reading of various trip reports by @Safaridude, @JohnR, @TonyQ, @Tdgraves, @wilddog, @pault and the recent “Lipault Ladies” report from you, @SafariChick and @Kitsafari, which gradually wore down my trepidation.

 

As my posts may be read by Chinese university students majoring the life sciences or ecology, the binomial nomenclature is included wherever possible. Non-native English speakers are often challenged by English common names for species, but binomial nomenclature provides ready access to information in their own languages.

 

The camera and lens are fun to use. The larger lens isn't the only safari lens I use. I'll attach an image taken by another well-designed lens which is especially useful when walking around a safari lodge.

 

Again, @graceland, your encouragement is deeply appreciated.

 

                      Tom K.

 

Tockus flavirostris.JPG

 

Tockus flavirostris

 

Photographed at Samburu National Reserve, Kenya on 30 April, 2014 at 12:06 pm, using an EOS 1D X camera and a Zeiss Apo-Sonnar T* 135mm f/2 ZE telephoto lens.

 

ISO 400, 1/80 sec., f/4, 135mm focal length, handheld, manually focussed Manual exposure.

 

This cheeky Tockus flavirostris, Eastern Yellow-billed Hornbill, perched on the chair opposite me during lunch at the Samburu Sopa Lodge.

 

When stepped away to pick up the camera, it remained in place, despite several seconds needed to achieve an optimal focus.

 

 

 


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#15 twaffle

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 03:33 AM

What an interesting introduction, very nice indeed. I, too, am rather fond of the gardens around the Nairobi Museum but if I'm truthful, I rather like gardens wherever I find them.

I look forward to reading more about your past and future trips and how you are helping your students to appreciate the wonder that is the wildlife of Africa.
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… clarity in thought comes after challenge …


#16 wenchy

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Posted 04 April 2015 - 05:33 PM

Appreciating your botanical insights/images. Gracias.
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#17 Tom Kellie

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 10:27 AM

Appreciating your botanical insights/images. Gracias.

 

~ Hi, @wenchy!

 

Asante sana for your encouragement!

 

Trees, shrubs, grasses, lichens and flowers are as much a part of the overall safari experience as the wildlife, aren't they?

 

Without them, whither life? Would we enjoy safaris as much if the only available option was a Martian landscape?

 

I'm grateful that this topic was opened and has been supported by several fellow plant-lovers.

 

I've started to feel that more walking safari time is needed in order to use a shorter focal length lens well-suited to wildflowers and grasses.

 

I'll attach an image of a plant which has been naturalized in Africa but which originated in southern South America.

 

                      Tom K.

 

Tagetes minuta.JPG

 

Photographed in Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya on 5 October, 2014 at 10:24 am with an EOS 1D X camera and an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II super telephoto lens.

 

ISO 125, 1/2000 sec., f/2.8, 400mm focal length, handheld Manual exposure.

 

Tagetes minuta is a marigold also called Black Mint.


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#18 Tom Kellie

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 11:30 AM

What an interesting introduction, very nice indeed. I, too, am rather fond of the gardens around the Nairobi Museum but if I'm truthful, I rather like gardens wherever I find them.

I look forward to reading more about your past and future trips and how you are helping your students to appreciate the wonder that is the wildlife of Africa.

 

~ Hello, @twaffle!

 

I'm both honored and grateful for your very kind words. 

 

What I didn't mention in my self-introduction, but should have, is that what I especially like about the National Museum of Kenya Succulent Garden and the Peace Walk beside it is the variety of smaller birds, most of which I seldom spot while on safari.

 

They flit around the bushes, perch in shaded tree branches and occasionally build nests, as a Nectarinia kilimensis, Bronze Sunbird, pair did last year.

 

There's also a robust agama and lizard population, not to mention a year-round dragonfly cohort.

 

I'm with you in loving all types of gardens. The presence of foliage and flowers serves as habitat for both crawling and winged insects.

 

My late mother asked my father to carve these words in a bench:

 

“The kiss of the Sun for pardon,

The song of the birds for mirth,

One is nearer God's heart in a garden,

Than anywhere else on earth.”

 

Having grown up with that, I still feel that way.

 

These past two weeks I've enjoyed hours of reading through archived trip reports from Safaritalk members. There are quite a few of exceptional quality photography and prose.

 

When I saw your images, I felt privileged to have seen such vibrant creativity. Your evocative descriptions bring me back to Africa even though most of your safaris have been in locations I've never visited.

 

The experience and practical wisdom of @Paolo, the mastery of camera technique and shrewd understanding of African conservation of @Safaridude, the entertaining descriptions of @Soukous, the extensive travels of @madaboutcheetah, the humor and realistic perspective of @Bush dog, the excellent writing of @Fly Traveler, the warmth and sympathy of the aptly named @graceland, and your own superlative photography — it's all been an intoxicating experience to read and learn from Safaritalk's dedicated members.

 

Yet it's daunting, @twaffle. I'm a bit less than an amateur when it comes to both wildlife photography and safaris. What's drawn me back a number of times has been friendly and intelligent Kenyans — I've taught several Kenyan graduate students — and the salutary climate. As I'm a slow reader and slow learner, it's taken awhile to come to terms with the varying seasonal conditions which influence what's readily observed and what's not.

 

When considering the high intelligence, deep experience, skilled photographic craft and comprehensive insight that you and other veteran Safaritalk members have, I have no illusions about the jejune quality of my own images and commentary. Hence the more impressed I've been by the outstanding work of others, the less inclined I've been to upload a trip report. The few locations I've visited have already been masterfully described and photographed by others.

 

I continue bringing students on safari with the hope that it might touch them. They're strongly oriented towards lucrative careers, yet seldom have much interest in the natural world. If they experience a few nights in the savanna, see life in the raw rather than on a computer screen, and feel Africa's rhythms, perhaps they'll someday devote a portion of their time to wildlife conservation, as quite a few Safaritalk members have done.

 

Thus encouragement from someone of your stature means a lot to me. Thank you very much, @twaffle.

 

I'll attach an image from the National Museum of Kenya Succulent Garden.

 

                  With Appreciation,

 

                                                 Tom K.

 

Male Nectarinia kilimensis.JPG

 

Photographed in the Succulent Garden of the National Museum of Kenya in Nairobi on 13 February, 2014 at 3:06 pm with an EOS 1D X camera and an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II super telephoto lens.

 

ISO 160, 1/1000 sec., f/4, 400mm focal length, handheld Manual exposure.

 

This male Nectarinia kilimensis, Bronze Sunbird, was feeding his mate in a nest about 3 meters above the ground in a cactus.

 

His deep-hued plumage glistened in the afternoon sunlight as a pleasing counterpoint to the richly red flowers. Sunbirds are one of the major reasons I often return to Kenya — they're living jewels.


Edited by Tom Kellie, 05 April 2015 - 11:47 AM.

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#19 graceland

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 11:44 AM

@Tom Kellie

I am honored you listed me amongst such distinguished members of Safaritalk. I hope I can live up to my name as I continue my travels along with so many talents here.

 

And, I am very much looking forward to hearing more about your travels. I'm sure you have a way with your writing as well, and have proven such with your reflections on reports you've pulled from the archives.

 

You'd think as long as I've been here (ST) I'd master my photo techniques as well as your stunning photos; however I am a sit in the moment safarigoer. eagerly watching; then " whoops", too late.

 

So I am happy everyone here shares their own magic.

 

You are also very perceptive in your accurate descriptions of the above. You've been reading quite a bit haven't you :)


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#20 Tom Kellie

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Posted 05 April 2015 - 12:17 PM

 

You are also very perceptive in your accurate descriptions of the above. You've been reading quite a bit haven't you :)

 

~ @graceland:

 

The financial & investment sector and the law community call it ‘due diligence’.

 

In the sciences it's known as ‘literature review’.

 

Having earned my rice for decades by reading through stacks of student papers, it's become a reflex to carefully prepare prior to writing.

 

As ever, your kindness soothes my jitters. From what you've written I see that you too sense that we're among a number of highly talented individuals.

 

@twaffle's kind post surprised me, as I had no expectation that anything that I might post would be of interest.

 

If my primary target audience is myself, close behind is an unseen secondary audience of graduate students, would-be safaristas, and Kenyan friends. As @Game Warden has requested photograph shooting details and binomial nomenclature for species, I'm appending such in hopes that it might be of value to those who haven't mastered written English, haven't yet visited Africa, or have no image-making tool beyond their mobile phones. All of those groups may eventually experience a safari, both as guest and as photographer.

 

Your own past trip reports have been delightful, in that they're real, in the finest sense. I admire how you take it all in stride, yet never lose a sense of awe for the wonder of nature.

 

We've both agreed that safaris are a solace, healing life's unwelcome bruises. That takes time, doesn't it? Therefore we both keep going back, smiles on our faces, as one never knows what one might see firsthand in tomorrow's game drives.

 

As I thoroughly enjoyed your writing about Masai Mara, I'll attach an image from there.

 

              With Appreciation,

 

                                             Tom K. 

 

Eupodotis melanogaster.JPG

 

Photographed in Masai Mara National Reserve on 7 February, 2014 at 3:43 pm with an EOS 1D X camera and an EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II super telephoto lens.

 

ISO 100, 1/800 sec., f/2.8, 400mm focal length, handheld Manual exposure.

 

This Eupodotis melanogaster, Black-bellied Bustard, was stalking through grass beside a track.

 

We'd just left a lion family reunion, replete with kissing, growls and all-around bonhomie.

 

The quiet, sure-footed motion of this bustard was a contrast, underscoring the diverse ways of living in the same biome.


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