A book for lovers of birds in Rift Valley, Kenya

Birds of Kenya

Birds of Kenya

Photo: Princeton Press

The thousands of flamingos on Lake Nakuru may be perhaps the most famous of bird sightings in Kenya's Rift Valley. There are many bird other species in that area, which includes four national parks: Lake Nakuru, Lake Bogoria, Mount Longonot, and Hell's Gate. Birds of Kenya’s Rift Valley (Princeton University Press, $29.95), a 256-page softcover book by Adam Scott Kennedy published in 2014, features the 320 bird species he believes travelers are most likely to encounter on safari in the region, which runs from Lake Baringo in the north to Lake Magadi in the south.

In the book, there are 500 color photos, most by the author, as well as non technical information on the ecology of the area and bird behaviors by species. It is divided into seven sections: Birds of Lake and Marsh; Up In the Air; Birds of Prey, Birds of Grassland and Open Areas; Birds of Wood, Scrub and Garden; and Night Birds.

Scott Kennedy has served as principal leader on birding holidays in Africa, South America, Europe, and New Zealand. He and his wife, Vicki, operate as private safari guides, specializing in photographic and wildlife safaris in East Africa. He is the author of Birds of the Masai Mara (see New Masai Mara bird book available).


Birds of Kenya

Click to buy Birds of Kenya's Rift Valley (WILDGuides)


New Tanzania mammals field guide available

Larger Mammals of Tanzania copy

*A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania

Safari goers headed to Tanzania may be interested to know that a new field guide highlighting 135 species of larger mammals (60 percent of mammals identified in Tanzania are rodents, bats and shrews), ranging in size from the hedgehog to the humpback whale, was published. The East Africa country is best known among game viewing and nature enthusiasts for the Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and Mount Kilimanjaro.

Part of the WildGuides, A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania (Princeton University Press, $29.95) by Charles Foley, Lara Foley, Alex Lobora, Daniela De Luca, Maurus Msuha, Tim R. B. Davenport and Sarah Durant is a 320-page paperback book published in 2014. It includes 300 color illustrations and 140 maps. The book is the second in the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)-Tanzania Programme field guide series. Author royalties from the book are to be donated to the Wildlife Conservation Society to support the Tanzania Carnivore Project or other wildlife projects in the country.

Forty percent of Tanzania's larger mammals are strictly or mostly nocturnal, requiring night drives or walks for optimum viewing. The authors recommend red colored filters during those hours.
For land animals there is information on identification, subspecies, similar species, ecology, behavior, distribution, conservation status, and where best to see each type of creature. The conservation status categories are: Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened, and Least Concern. There are also plates with side-by-side photographic comparisons of species that are easily confused, and first-time-ever species checklists for the national parks.

Charles Foley is assistant country director for the Wildlife Conservation Society in Tanzania. Lara Foley is program manager of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Tarangire Elephant Project. Alex Lobora is senior research officer at the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute. Daniela De Luca is senior scientist for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s conservation programs in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania and Zanzibar. Maurus Msuha is head of wildlife information and education at the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute. Tim R. B. Davenport is country director for the Wildlife Conservation Society in Tanzania. Sarah Durant is senior research fellow at the Zoological Society of London’s Institute of Zoology.

*Photo: Princeton University Press



Larger Mammals of Tanzania copy

Click to buy A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania


Conservationist and ornithologist explore Caribbean wildlife

Wildlife of the Caribbean

Wildlife of the Caribbean

Photos: Princeton University Press

In Wildlife of the Caribbean (Princeton University Press, $19.95) a 304-page softcover book published this year, Herbert A. Raffaele, a wildlife conservationist, and James W. Wiley, a researcher of ornithology, explore nature in The Bahamas and the Caribbean: Cayman Islands, Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles, and Virgin Islands. Color tabs identify each section for easy reference. An introductory section addresses the region, its geography and conditions. The remainder of the book is divided by type of grouping.

The book includes 600 color images of 451 species of island flora and fauna. The authors focus on the most widespread and visible plants, terrestrial mammals, birds, terrestrial reptiles, amphibians, terrestrial invertebrates, marine mammals, marine reptiles, marine fish, and marine plants and invertebrates, and seashells. The bird section is by far the largest. There is information about the identification, status and distribution of the plants and animals of the region.

Herbert Raffaele, coauthor, Wildlife of the Caribbean

Herbert Raffaele, coauthor, Wildlife of the Caribbean

Raffaele directed wildlife conservation at the Department of Natural Resources in Puerto Rico, and was chief of Latin American and Caribbean programs for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Since 1972, Wiley has worked in ornithological research in the Caribbean. The two are coauthors of Birds of the West Indies.


Wildlife of the Caribbean

Click to buy Wildlife of the Caribbean


New Serengeti, Ngorongoro bird book published

Birds of the Serengeti

Birds of the Serengeti

A good bird field guide is a superb addition to a safari. Many game viewing destinations offer optimum bird viewing. While the feathered creatures are often overlooked by first time visitors to Africa who are preoccupied with the ever popular search for the Big Five, bird viewing presents its own worthy challenges and rewards worth exploring. 

Travelers to Tanzania interested in bird viewing may want to have a copy of Birds of the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Princeton University Press, $20.93) by Adam Scott Kennedy. The 224-page softcover book published last month features 480 color photos, many of them by the author, of 264 species of birds. Images include breeding and non breeding plumage.

The book is divided into: Birds of the Plains; Birds of the Marsh and Water; Birds of Woodland, Scrub and Garden; Birds of Acacia Scrub; Village Birds; Forest and Crater Highlands Birds; Birds of the Air; Night Birds; and Lake Victoria Specials. Some of the sections, such as Village Birds, feature only two types of birds.

Kennedy and his wife, Vicki Kennedy, are private wildlife and photography safari guides. Prior to that they were managers of remote luxury safari camps in Tanzania and Kenya. They are coauthors of Animals of the Masai Mara (see New Masai Mara bird book available).


Birds of the Serengeti

Click to buy Birds of the Serengeti


Exploring leafy greens recipe book

By Elena del Valle
Food photos by Gary Cox

The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook

The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook*

According to many reputable sources, leafy greens such as collard greens, kale, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard and their kin are at the heart of a healthy and nutritious regime. For us, purchasing, identifying and eating greens has proved challenging at times. Becoming familiar with the different varieties and how to buy them was a first step. Next, knowing how to eat them to their best advantage requires additional effort and knowledge. Sometimes they are bitter, chewy or tough in their raw state. Other times they're boring. Some leafy greens need preparation to become palatable. We turned to The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook 67 Leafy Greens & 250 Recipes (Robert Rose, $27.95), a newly published cookbook by Susan Sampson, for information and recipe ideas. 

Kale leaves cleaned and ready to make crisps

Kale leaves cleaned and ready to make crisps

Kale crisps with sesame seeds

We made kale crisps with sesame seeds following a recipe in the book

The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook is a softcover 480-page book filled with nutritional information, easy to read recipes and color photos. The leafy greens we wanted to learn more about were collard greens, baby bok choy and kale.

Susan Sampson

Susan Sampson, author, The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook*

For example, we had been eating kale crisps for a while when we first came across the Cookbook. Its kale crisps recipe was similar to the one we were using. One of the options suggested in the book was to add sesame seeds. We tried it and liked it. The sesame seeds add a crunchy nutty flavor to the crisps and a twist to the everyday plain crisps.

Grilled bok choy and soy glaze

The grilled baby bok choy with soy glaze

Collard greens cooked in beef broth

The collard greens cooked in beef broth while not pretty were delicious

We also sampled the Kaleslaw recipe. It required relatively little time and offered yet another way to supplement our diet with nutritious kale. The Old School Collard Greens were delicious (we used beef broth). Next, we tried the Baby Bok Choy with Soy Glaze recipe which required Shaoxing cooking wine. We grilled the baby bok choy on the barbeque grill instead of cooking it in a bowl as the recipe indicated. It was quite nice although the leaves were a bit chewy. Next time, we'll slice the large ones into quarters instead of halves. The soy glaze seems promising to use in other dishes to add a dash of flavor. Although we excluded pepper, chili paste and spicy hot condiments from the recipes we prepared we liked them. They were all worth repeating.

*Photos: robertorse.ca


The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook

Click to buy The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook


New raw foods book recipes worth repeating

By Elena del Valle
Photos: Watermarked photos by Gary Cox, book cover and author photos by Trevor Lush

The SimplyRaw Kitchen

The SimplyRaw Kitchen

We're always on the lookout for healthy, flavorful and nutritious recipes to expand our meal options. The SimplyRaw Kitchen (Arsenal Pulp Press, $21.95), an all-vegan, gluten-free 206-page softcover cookbook and lifestyle guide due to be released October 2013, by Natasha Kyssa of Ontario, Canada promised new ideas.

Righteous Brownies with Caramel Frosting

Righteous Brownies with Caramel Frosting

In the first quarter of the book she explains the reasons she prefers a raw vegan lifestyle, outlines the kitchen tools she uses and defines ingredients she favors in her recipes. The remainder of the book is divided into Beverages; Breakfasts; Soups, Salads and Salad Dressings; Pates, Dips, Spreads and Cheezes; Mains; and Desserts & Sweet Treats.

Ingredients for Vietnamese Salad Rolls with Dragon Dipping Sauce

Ingredients for Vietnamese Salad Rolls with Dragon Dipping Sauce

We sampled two recipes, one from the Mains and another from the Desserts & Sweat Treats chapters, with very satisfactory results and plan to try more. The first recipe we tried was for Vietnamese Salad Rolls with Dragon Dipping Sauce. While we had most of the ingredients the rice wrappers and tamari were challenging to find in our suburban town. In the end, a thoughtful neighbor shared her rice wrappers and we used soy sauce in lieu of tamari. I used shredded carrots to complete the red cabbage necessary for the recipe. We made the dish the same day we bought the produce. We chilled the six rolls and the bowl of sauce for about 45 minutes in the refrigerator to cool them down from our subtropical temperatures. The combined flavors of the rolls with the sauce were excellent.

Vietnamese Salad Rolls with Dragon Dipping Sauce

A Vietnamese Salad Roll with Dragon Dipping Sauce

There was some leftover sauce which we sampled the next day in a simple salad of greens, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and red cabbage. While it was acceptable the sauce had changed; the garlic flavor was more pronounced as was the ginger, making the sauce too pungent as a dressing. In future we'll plan to eat the sauce the day we make it.

Ingredients for the Righteous Brownies with Caramel Frosting

Ingredients for the Righteous Brownies with Caramel Frosting

The next day, we were in the mood for something sweet at the end of the afternoon. We had most of the ingredients for the Righteous Brownies with Caramel Frosting except the coconut flour which we procured easily. The brownie part, mixed in a food processor, still had some chunks when we molded it into the pan. The frosting, mixed in the blender, was smooth and liquid, easy to pour over the brownie. A few minutes in the refrigerator did little to keep the frosting from running. It was rich, creamy, crunchy (from the brownie chunks and the cacao nibs), chocolaty and mildly sweet. While not a replacement for oven baked chocolate and nut brownies the Righteous Brownies were surprisingly filling and satisfying.

Natasha Kyssa, author, The SimplyRaw Kitchen

Natasha Kyssa, author, The SimplyRaw Kitchen

We are planning another meal of rolls as soon as we find some tamari. The brownies have been well received and we plan to continue sampling recipes.

Kyssa, who wrote the book with her mother Ilse, runs SimplyRaw, a healthy lifestyles consulting company, and SimplyRaw Express, a vegan restaurant in Ottawa, Canada. The recipes in the book, she says in the Introduction, are contemporary interpretations of traditional Eastern European comfort foods. She strives to guide others to achieve a healthy and wellness oriented lifestyle through workshops, her café, and detox program. A past speaker at TedX she also hosts professional seminars and workshops. Her first book, The SimplyRaw Living Foods Detox Manual, was published in 2009.