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 Post subject: BB & JH bonus Kruger summer trip
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 4:29 pm 
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Being retrenched has it's up side. I was able to negotiate a year's contract and a quick phone call to Jerry Hattrick, my almost 84 year old father in Benoni, and I booked flights and accomodation.

Instead of a ball by ball report, I shall just give highlights or things that stuck in my feeble mind.


Day 1 Sun 10 December - The late late Croc Bridge Show

After spending 2 hours at CTI waiting for a delayed flight, I arrived at JI and we drove to Numbi. Popped in to Pkop to see van Rooi, but he was off duty. Being a hot afternoon, sightings were a bit scarce, but we enjoyed a saddle billed stork pair at Transport dam.

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Sorry, I have not yet got the hang of the camera

The Sabie river road was its usual quiet self for us until right outside LS we encountered the tiniest ele I have ever seen.

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(Next time I must twist Mrs BB's arm and bash her on the head BA Baraccus-style to get her on the plane to take decent photos)

It was a quiet ride down to Croc Bridge right until Gezantfombi dam where we saw 7 lions deciding what to do about dinner in the gathering gloom

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Ticked off now for a 100% record of lions on trips, we could settle down to look for the good stuff.

Just after that almost at the camp gates, we saw 2 white rhino, to end the day off with a bang

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We were allocated safari tent no 8 which it on the perimeter fence, but no 7 has the better view.

3 hyenas walked past during the braai, and a curious ele popped in, then the heavens opened up and we had a typical 'Transvaal' thunder storm - something to experience if you are not from this region

Next - 'Winter in the Cape'

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Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2006 9:55 am 
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Thanks all of you. In recent years lions have never been a big deal, and this trip we saw a l.... hang on I am jumping the gun here..


Day 2 Winter in the Cape

Why such a title - we are nowhere near the Cape, my home. After last night's thunderstorm, we woke to hanging clouds and sub 20 temperatures that endured almost all day. It was a sharp contrast to the extreme heat we would have on later days.

My birdie alarm went off at 4H20 and was immediately answered by the haunting call of a woodland kingfisher!

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We were hardly out of the gate when we saw our first of the big 5 for the day.

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We headed off to LS and found we had left some of our valuable coffee and breakfast equipment behind, so we had to sit in the cold there - JH didn't even bring a jersey - and had the fare while watching lesser masked weavers and black eyed bulbuls make off with tit bits when the owner was distracted.

The day was not conducive to photography, but on the LS road I came across this fellow in the road. Dilemma. Do I break the rules and rescue him or allow him to be squished by lion hunters.

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We picked up some info on Duke and decided to look for him in the Mlondozi dam area, but we only found some of his pals

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and a few rollers - LB

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and European

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Once again the Sabie river road was unproductive and we had to rely on the Tshokwane - LS road for plains game, although the lookout point at Nkumbe yielded not a single animal.

This was a quiet day but right at the end I met wildchild who spotted my YR and he told me of a buff carcass with 2 male lions on it, and I shall tell you of that next in The purple patch

{Images resized by DQ}

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Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2006 3:31 pm 
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The line has been band-aided at last.

Day 3 The purple patch

Every now and then Kruger smiles on you and you have an almost unbelievable session. This was ours.

I briefly met wildchild the previous evening and he told me of a pair of lions that had brought down a buff at the Biyamiti causeway. This was confirmed by others, so we set off for the kill.

Before reaching the S25 turnoff we were able to tick off our first big fiver for the day, a white rhino. We had just turned into the S25 when an inquisitive hyena sniffed around our car.

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A little further on, there were a few eles in the bush at the side of the road and then all of a twice, we had that wonderful feeling that does not come when you are driven to a good sighting, it only comes when you round a corner or ridge a rise, and there is something lying in the road. As we approached we saw it was a WILD DOG!!!!! - and another! We drove very slowly and recognised fellow Croc Bridgers on the far side of the sighting. The dogs got up and started walking away from us and another THREE joined them from a floodwater scoop. They set off past the other car jogging down the road

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After about half a kay they had had enough and one rolled in some fresh ele dung

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the rest decided to lie down again

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We stayed a few minutes but nothing doing. Great, so we continued and about another 300 metres a few impies were looking very nervously in their dierction. I spotted a long tail disappearing into the shade a bit further down the road and as we got closer, it was a leopard!! A big fellow who then got off the road and started wandering off into thickish bush

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Wow! we were on a roll. We had just composed ourselves when a hyena jumped in front of the car for about 25 metres and then ran off to the side. It had an impala head in its jaws, trailing entrails!

After all this, the 2 lions at the buff carcass turned out to be a bit of an anticlimax, as they were sleeping a way off and we could only smell the carcass. Talk of smelling, my minister is just as bush crazy as I am as he is a Zimbo, and as we were admiring the carefree lion in the riverbed, he drove across the causeway from BergnDal and we exchanged info.

A bit further along was arguably the best sighting of all - this African hawk eagle that I have never seen in Kruger before, and have seen only 2 previously, one in Pil....berg and the other in Nam.

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It posed beautifully and then flew off - joined by a mate in another tree!!

The rest of the day was very ordinary compared to our hour from 5h15, but when Kruger smiles on you, she can really do it with style!

The next instalment is not for sensitive viewers and contains possibly offensive material entitled Sex and the Kruger

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Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 9:38 am 
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Day 4 Sex in the Kruger

It was time to leave Croc Bridge, safari tent no 8 in the fence (7 has a better view). This has been a very productive area in the 2 visits this year, but the leaving was quiet until we came across this unusual sight.

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I have never seen giraffes off their feet in Kruger before.

By now we saw the usual hyena slinking around. This had something in its mouth and dropped it there.

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We then saw this impressive king of the air

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and a mystery until I realized that number three was a juvenile fish eagle.

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What's this got to do with sex? Nothing yet, be patient.
Once again we did the LS Skukuza highway and saw some impies and vervets. The rest was on holiday. We stopped on the green bridge to scan and were told of a special sighting 3 km down the salitjie road. Off we went and were stopped 2km into it and told it was 5 km further. After 9KM we came across this pair in action, (the loser was asleep in the side of the road), and they confirmed that lions do mate every 20 minutes!

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The trip up to Tamboti was largely uneventful - I have reported on it elsewhere - except for a leopard well camouflaged in bush on the H7. Tamboti is my home from home and the pool at Orpen is great. They just need an underground passage so I can swim at night!

Next A Tale of Two Eles

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Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 10:28 am 
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Just kidding about the giraffes. The grass is REALLY tall and thick this year :twisted:

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2007 4:45 pm 
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A Tale of Two Eles

Our first day from Tamboti turned out to be catless, but we saw a lot more more plains and general game than down south. We took the N7 to Satara, S100 to Nwanetsi, returning with the H6, north up the H1 turning west at the S39 down to Timbavati, along the S39, to the H7 and back to Tamboti.

The hyena was outside the den on the H1-4 but the youngsters were inside.

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At Ratelpan hide an openbill scavenged before us.

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This is the first time I have ever seen leaves on the guardian of Timbavati.

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This was the first red crested korhaan chick I have ever seen - youngsters of all species are to be seen.

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Now back to the title story.

After lunch at Timbavati, we came south on the S39, and there was quite a lot of game for the heat of the day. We must have been the only car for a while as we came across a small herd of eles on both sides of the road. A young cow and her very tiny calf were on the left and the others right. Just as we drove past, she trumpeted in fright and ran behind the car to the rest of the herd, baby in tow. As she reached them the four smallish adults grouped tightly and the three calves weaved their way into the space between them. I did not think that we presented a threat in our tusk Camry, but the whole group looked frightened and did not do anything aggressive. We did not overstay and drove off slowly. There was no matriarch to show us who was boss, but just the 4 young cows and calves.

On the H7 there are two lookout points, Bobbejaankrans ( Baboon cliff) and the unnamed one. We went down it to the end, and on the way back a small blue car came in and I waited for it to come by on the narrow road. As it drew level, there was loud trumpeting next to it. We had both missed a teenager in the thicket. The car drove by and I put foot as this youngster charged out onto the road after me. He stopped and went after the other car. I reversed trying to get him back onto me but he disappeared into the bush. After a few seconds I heard the bush immediately behind me on the side crackle and the movement confirmed my suspicion. I floored it as he came charging out again 2 metres from my fender. This time I went right out to the entrance, heart pounding, only to pass a much bigger ele on the way out. Faster pounding. I stopped at the entrance and waited (as others had waited to see if I was ok previously). The little blue car did not emerge, and I gave it a time limit of 20 minutes. I was not going to go back down the narrow road in case I came across the car gapping it with ele chasing. My plan was to drive to the ranger's house nearer to Orpen and make it his problem, but in the 20th minute the blue car shot out of the entrance. The shocked occupants told me that this teenager had charged them a few times further and further down the road to the end. When they thought it would turn nasty, his mother arrived and clouted him on the back with her trunk and shooed him off into the bush. Then they drove out at speed.

One wonders if, with the intelligence of a 5 year old child, a teenage elephant finds its kicks terrorising the paying public for fun or whether it was serious. Fortunately we did not find out. I will probably give that road a miss in future, It has not been productive for me in the past, except for a nyala family.

Next Day of death

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Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 7:50 pm 
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I just cannot believe my dad, Jerry Hattrick (84 next week). He is at present in Hazyview waiting for the weather to cool down so he can get back into Kruger. We were there THREE WEEKS AGO. Talk about a Krugerholic. In the 50 years we have been going, he must have clocked up more than 150 visits. Enough sour grapes :tongue:

The Day of Death

Jerry loves the Matambeni hide north of Letaba, so we set off at the crack of sparrows from Tamboti, and were quickly into the action

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Nice hey! It was just past a rhino that ran into the bush.

Half way down the H7 we came to the first killing field. A pride had brought down a buff in a dip next to the road overnight and the twincabs and SUVs would not let us in between the vegetation to get a photo, but there were 6 feeders.

The trip up to Letaba was largely uneventful, but I had wanted to get a specific photo to take back to Mrs BB, but it had been avoiding me. She is crazy about zebras and our house is festooned with black and white stripes, and everyone knows what to but her for a present, but I digress....

Here is the ag shame factor.

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I will spare you the other 23 photos!

Back on the H1, we had just passed the Balule turnoff when we saw a car stopped on the wrong side of the road. We looked and there was a foul smelling hippo carcass and 3 lionesses nearby. Pity photos don't come with a smellograph. This one would put you off your dinner!

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Soon we came upon the third killing, these two yellow billed kites had found a snake.

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The final killing came at the hide where a redwing starling flew into the hide and sat on the windowsill and proceeded to eat a worm it had picked up. We were less than a metre from it but it just proudly finished its nosh.

Afterwards, we went to Balule and saw friends who told us about lions near the low water bridge. It took us a while to find them in the shade. We were looking far out and they were under our noses.

A final raspberry for the poepol in a twincab ON THE PHONE at the Tamboti turnoff, who scared off the Senegal lapwing I was trying to photograph. It was my first sighting.

In conclusion Frustration turns to Joy

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 5:15 pm 
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All good things must end, so our last morning came, and my dad said he still wanted to see cheetah. 'We will see one before we leave the park. I feel it in my bones' I lied.

Frustration turns to joy

After packing up, we set off and passed 5 lions at the buff carcass. This was to be a lean morning with only 19 sightings except impala. Our solitary ele was at the roadside and we were blindsided, and stopped right next to it, while looking the other way and asking what they saw. We were the clots of the week. Fortunately the old fella with the broken tusk was just having breakfast.

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Just before Msemani dam, we came across a hyena den and dad and junior decided to go for their morning jog.

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The ride down the H1 to elephant waterhole yielded very little, but a few zebra, warthog, buffs,gnu and a giraffe. But then cars! stopped! get there! What! 3 cheetah just crossed the road. We had missed them by seconds. Fershluginer! Oh well, let's carry on. But hang on, their is a turn to the right. We agree and take it. Our experience pays off because as we get 300 metres down the road at the Mantimahle waterhole turn off, FOUR cheetahs break from the bush and cross the road in front of us with no-one else in sight. They get their bearings and are off into the bush on a hunting mission. WOOHOO! My bones had lied to me! It took 10 seconds and we had no photo chance, but we have never seen 4 adult cheetahs together before. WOOHOO!

The ride down to Kruger gate was uneventful, but the trips seem to get better. My dad, Jerry Hattrick will be 84 on Tuesday and as long as we both draw breath, we will do our annual trip and maybe another few bonus ones as well!

Sighting of the trip was this African Hawk eagle, we had never seen in Kruger before.

Image

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Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 11:14 am 
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Thank you one and all for your kind remarks. As a veteran Krugerite, I realize that it is extremely exciting for 'rookies' - meant positively, to get excited about the wonders of Kruger, especially the accessability of lions. I would rather share some more unusual moments and encourage visitors to get into the birds, trees and lesser known and spotted creatures there. I still get pleasure out of seeing lions - an admission - but the all round experience keeps me coming back.

Bonus pic - Black stork & saddle billed stork fishing at a pool on the S100.

Image

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