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 Post subject: THE GREAT ESCAPE... KTP and Augrabies : Jun '07
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2007 2:24 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: In the Place Of Gold...
The Great Escape…
Starring: Great Aunt Pat (aka Aunty Pat), Mom, Dad and myself…

Image Mom’s Photo
Above on the left is Aunty Pat… (On the way to KTP)
Image My Photo
Above is my Mom… (At Twee Rivieren camp)
Image My Photo
Above is my Dad… (At Twee Rivieren camp)
Image Mom’s Photo
Above is me… (At Nossob camp)

The Preparation...

A week before we had left for one great adventure, a lot of planning had to be thought out. My mom had organized every meal (from breakfast to supper) and had amazing meals precooked. Aunty Pat did us a huge favour by booking bungalows in the camps for us. Most of the camps were fully booked and we were relying on cancellations for making our holiday a success. She had phoned the reservations every week and sure enough, slowly but surely, we got bookings!! My dad made sure his old vehicle would be able to handle the long trip ahead by servicing it and got us an Engel. We were ready a couple of days before the time but couldn’t sleep at night from all the excitement...

:dance:

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 8:46 am 
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Thanx everyone :dance:

Day 1 (23 June)…

The day had finally come!! We had all woken up at 2:30am in the morning as our journey from JHB was said to take 13hrs. That included stops for petrol, comfort breaks and traveling at an average speed of 110km/hrs of course. By 3:30am we were ready to leave and our journey had finally begun!! :D
The temperature was -4°C but soon warmed up. Our trip was fairly safe until we came across a tired or drunk driver swerving all over the road. My dad had hooted and flicked lights but that didn’t help. The driver had swerved to one side of the road so we made a break for it. We passed him just in the nick of time as the driver then swerved back into our direction. We watched the driver in the rear mirror of the car but soon he disappeared in the distance.
After all that drama we carried on. My mom had seen a kori bustard on the side of the highway and urged my dad to turn back to have a look at it. She thought we wouldn’t see one again in the park (little did we know) :shock: . As we came towards the Kori Bustard again, it took flight and we watched in awe at its wingspan.
Image My photo
Image Mom’s photo
We finally reached Upington but now my dad was dreading the stretch to Twee Rivieren with the gravel road. Soon we had decided to use the donkey cart trail. At this point anything was better than the road. (Now I can understand what michele nel went through)
The KTP sign board came into view and triumph spread through the car!! We had made it!! :dance: We reached Twee Rivieren at 17:00. Aunty Pat and my dad had gone to reception to collect the keys while my mom and I started clicking away with our cameras. We both soon realized that the sociable weavers’ nest were quite common but still an amazing sight to see what a little bird can do…
Image My photo
Image My photo
We got our bungalows soon and got unpacking. We were situated right next to the bush which was great for the night time! As we were unpacking, my dad started chatting to our neighbors. Turns out they have been in the park for 2weeks already and have seen everything. She told us about lions at Nossob and the famous leopard at the 10km sign for Twee Rivieren with her cub. Smiles sprung on to everyone’s faces as we were heading in that direction the next day! She said that the leopard was eating a bustard at the moment. Is that normal for a leopard or is she desperate for food right now?
As night fell I got ready for bed. I went to shower and came back out to say night to everyone. They said that they had just seen 2 animals which looked wolf like. At first they thought it was a blacked back jackal, but then said it had no markings, was fawn and double the size of a jackal? :?

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 2:59 pm 
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Senyetse wrote:
Brown hyanea? They are quite wolf like and much larger than jackals.


Ya, mayber brown hyena CS :?

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 3:10 pm 
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@Senyetse and Jonty: I showed them a brown hyena pic as well. I think that's more or less what the animal looked like because the only thing that bothered them was its rounded back. Personally I think it was probly a brown hyena but then again I didn't see it :roll:

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2007 3:21 pm 
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I think so too. Its the most wolf-like of all the possibles. Its also called the strandwolf in Namibia.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 12:14 pm 
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Thanx again for your kind comments :redface:

Day 2 (24 June)

Image My photo
We all got up at 06:00. Everyone got ready for the day and packed their bags to be put into the car. At 07:00 we went to reception, collected our permit and put petrol into the car. Off we went into the park at 07:30, looking both sides with eager eyes. We were travelling to Nossob.
We had stopped at every gemsbok, ostrich, wildebeest and springbok we saw. Soon we saw tons of Kori Bustards and had a good laugh as we had stopped for one on the highway the day before :lol:
As we watched a family of ostriches, (10 chicks, 1 male and 1 female) we noticed the female got very nervous and alert. Soon we saw a cape fox chasing the chicks, the female had run after it and, with success, the fox had left. Another cape fox had come over the horizon and the female had then chased that one away. It all happened to fast and sadly have no film or photos :( .
Image My photo
We came across groups of southern grey headed sparrows along with cape sparrows sitting in trees. With curiosity, we watched them for a while and out of no where a lanner falcon had suddenly appeared. He had chased all the sparrows away trying desperately to catch one. The sparrows then settled again and the same thing happened :shock: .
Image My photo
Slowly but surely at 09:00 we came across the 10km sign where the leopard den was said to be. Sure enough there she was, standing on top of the hill, silhouetted in the sun shine. No sign of the cub but we soon realized where her den was as she disappeared for a while in a hole. We soon left as our schedule was tight so we said our good byes.
While we were driving, we had gone past a tree with yet another sociable weavers’ nest. My mom had frantically told us to stop and go back. Soon after she told us she had seen a cat on the nest. With surprise we went backwards and sure enough there it was. We could just make out silhouetted ears and a body. What a great spot of an AWC :dance: .
Image My photo
Image My photo
Off we went again and soon found a jackal eating a leg of an animal. Excitement rose knowing that there was a carcass nearby of a fairly large animal. We scanned the area for anything out of place and vultures. There was nothing else unusual so we gave up and left :roll: .
We came across a waterhole with an eland calf and mother. At first we thought the calf was a springbok but of course we were wrong :redface: . The eland and the calf darted off as soon as we came closer. After a while we saw nothing more of them.
At the waterhole we saw a few gemsboks and an eland carcass.
Image Mom’s photo

(I will try post video clips of the whole trip as soon as I figure out how to)
To be continued…

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Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:34 pm 
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Yes, the AWC was amazing!!

Continue... Day 2 (24 June)

We reached Nossob at 15:00 and decided to go to a waterhole at 16:30. The waterhole we decided to go to was 10km away from the camp so we could spend a while watching the birds and animals there. The dam was situated north of Nossob.
On our arrival we saw 5 elands, which darted to the hills again as soon as we came into sight, and 2 wildebeests. After noticing there wasn’t a lot of bird life there, we decided to go sit at the hide in the camp.
Image My photo
The hide was full and we battled to find a seat. As we watched the sunset, wildebeest, springbok, red hartebeest and gemsbok, three jackals came into view. One after the other they came to drink and soon began howling :D .
Image My photo
Image My photo
The howling was just magical… We all listened with sharp ears and relaxed minds. After hearing more than 11 jackals we realized that they were all around us even though we couldn’t see them. A few jackals disappeared into the camp and yes, started irritating all the campers because people feed them :x .
Other smaller animals have also become quite tame in the camp due to campers feeding them e.g. ground squirrels and yellow mongooses. Not to mention a few birds to.
We had a great SA braai accompanied with a total of 9 jackals walking around the camp.
Image My photo
Image My photo
Lights went off at 20:30 and we all went off into our rooms, waiting anxiously for the next day to come with all its surprises :wink: .

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Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2007 11:28 am 
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@wanderw: She is quite the famous leopard isn't she? :lol: It looks like she also has two notches in her right ear, used for identification, that you will be able to see in pix I post of her later :wink:
Thanx once again for all the comments :D

Day 3 (25 June)

Image My photo
Image My photo
At 06:00 we went to the hide again, hoping to see some nocturnal animals. Only the jackal showed his face to us and we could make out the silhouettes of gemsbok in the background.
A guy joined us in the hide and told us that he had seen a dying springbok yesterday afternoon at that same waterhole we had been to… He had also said that there properly would be scavengers there later on today. Since it was out of our way, we thanked the guy and then left on our journey towards Mata Mata.
The dunes we traveled on were terribly quite. But it was a great time just to admire the view. Later on we came across a dry river bed and of course, where there is a river bed there are animals :wink:
With a birds eye view we watched wildebeests walking in lines towards the waterhole. With the wind blowing tremendously, we could hardly see far in front of us. As the wildebeest stepped sand blew from under them. It was quite a fascinating sight.
Further along the road we saw a jackal watching the wildebeest walk past. It seemed as though the wildebeest didn’t know what to make out of him just lying down in the open.
As we carried on, the car filled with silence again but the silence was soon broken as a hissing sound came from the tire at the back :shock: . My dad stuck his head out the window to see what the cause of the sound was. It didn’t seem flat so we carried on traveling. We soon reached Mata Mata camp and my dad had a look at the tire. Nothing seemed to be wrong? Perhaps sand got caught in the hub?
At Mata Mata we saw 2 colonies of ground squirrels. Most of which have become tame *sigh*.
Image My photo
Image My photo
Well we were at Mata Mata, my dad and I walked down to the hide in the camp. The waterhole was quite with not one animal in sight. Well, except for a ground squirrel that was running to the waterhole every now and again.

To be continued…

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Unread postPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2007 5:11 pm 
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Continue... Day 3 (25 June)

At Mata Mata Camp, we came across 1 suricate (well according to my family, a meerkat). He has been named Tokkie if I’m not mistaken. There is a discussion about him here. http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopi ... &start=450
Image Mom’s Photo
(Above) Look at those claws!! They’re massive!! :shock:
Image My photo
Behind our bungalow I found a colony of yellow mongooses. 2 were rather young and played with each other until 3 adults came back to the den.
Below is where their den is.
Image My photo
We then got settled into our bungalows but decided to go out again for a sunset drive. Next to the road we found an AWC. He didn’t seem interested in us at all. Soon he trotted along and off we went.
Image Mom’s photo
On the way back to the camp we saw what we’ve been waiting for. Springboks prancing next to the road... I just love it when they do that and spread their fur on their back to reveal a blanket of white fur.
At the end of the day we only found 1 young kudu but no herd in sight… Perhaps they were behind the dunes? This was the only kudu we saw on the whole trip. When we tried to take a descent pic of him he ran off.
Image Mom’s photo
Night came once again (these days seem to fly past terribly fast), we all got tucked in bed and prepared for a new day.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 10:08 am 
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@MM: I'm not to sure what the hissing sound was either :?
@wanderw: Hehe I've noticed you very fond of her :D
@restio: Thanx for the compliments :thumbs_up:

Day 4 (26 June)

Today was a bit cold but the wind had finally died down. The only problem now seemed to be the threaten clouds that were hanging around.
Image My photo
After a while they had cleared and we were on the way back to Twee Rivieren.

We found the same AWC again in the same area as we did the day before. He was stalking something behind a bush which we couldn’t see. Nothing happened for a while so off we went.

After a while we found another AWC next to the road. She had walked right past a gerbil/mouse and didn’t even notice :lol:
Image My photo

Down the road we found a mating pair of lions. They were far off on a hill cuddled up in the sun. We soon left as the lions weren’t going to budge. We found a lot of new spoor on the road. We guessed lion spoor but of course we could be wrong :roll: .

While driving, a jackal had run across the road right in front of us. The jackal was then followed by a honey badger, then another :shock: ? The badgers had walked next to the car then into the bush next to the road, digging under the bushes at the roots. Pale Chanting Goshawks had watched them along with a jackal. As the badgers moved along the road so did the jackal, goshawks and us. We had reversed with them for a long time. The female badger suddenly stopped then collapsed next to the road. She gave a huge yawn and then cuddled up. The male had come behind her. He was nibbling the fur on her back. She then stood up. What happened next just blew us all away. For, what we think, they started mating. He then walked around, gave us a satisfied smile and soon lay next to her. She placed her head on his neck and they both showed affection towards each other... It was really something…
Before they mated:
http://tinypic.com/player.php?v=4vqamao
Of course something always goes wrong when this kind of thing happens… My memory went full, so I was sitting in the back seat deleting some pictures and videos, missing some of the action. My dad had filmed the part before and after the mating so of course he missed the mating to :x . Only my mom got one pic:
Image Mom’s photo
Image My photo
This was taken after they had mated:
http://tinypic.com/player.php?v=4q5l17o
Note: the satisfied smile :lol:
My dad told us we had to leave and then pointed out that the whole world was behind us, well quite, after we argued with him to stay. There were cars behind us as far as the eye could see so we decided it was best to leave. We were with them for about 20-30min until we had to leave. All that time they were next to us, in the open and put on quite a show. After that excitement, we found our first giraffe along side the road.
Image My photo

We reached Twee Riverine and got a family bungalow on the end of the camp. For the rest of the afternoon we went walking up the dunes.
We discovered a photo gallery in the TR Information centre. There are amazing pix there and I do admit that I envy them :mrgreen: .

(I’ll post my dad’s videos later)

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Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2007 4:51 pm 
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Firstly well done on the videos Candy...see told you it wasn't difficult ( for an Angel, that is ) :dance: :angel: :dance:

Secondly I am gobsmacked :shock: :shock: :shock: The fact that you saw these 2 honey badgers mating is beyond belief. I like, Peterbee , would also trade some lion sightings to see that :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
I have only ever seen one honey badger in my 9 trips to the park and that it was far away on the dune.
I really am enjoying this report Candy....eagerly awaiting more. :dance:

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Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2007 2:56 pm 
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I'm still trying to get a programme that will change my dad's videos into a wma file type :( . Sorry for the delay...

With all the comments I can really see just how special the honey badger sighting was. I guess it's all in a matter of the right timing at the right time...

Day 5 (27 June)

Today was absolutely freezing!! A lot of people had smsed, phoned and sent me pictures saying it was snowing in Johannesburg?? We could well believe it since the car had iced up and we could see crystal shapes on the car’s window. The temperature was -7°C but only -1°C in Johannesburg.
Image My photo
Image My photo

As we were leaving KTP today going to Augrabies, we decided to visit the leopard again until 11:00 then leave. Off we went at 07:30 and we quickly arrived at her den.

There she was, silhouetted up on the hill again :D . Since she wasn’t going to move anytime soon in this cold we decided to drive to Leeuwdril waterhole quickly to see what animals were around.
Image My photo
Above: This gemsbok was pregnant. Note the udders and quite an enlarged belly.
Image Mom’s photo
We saw the usual antelope and the common bird but nothing great so we decided to turn back to the leopard.

On the way we found a Spotted Eagle Owl sitting in a tree :dance: . It was a strange sighting as the owl was sitting in the open, during the day and in the sun. The weather must have gotten to him :roll: … This was my third owl I had ever seen. Well except for those in captivity. The sightings I had seen before included one on a farm with chicks (a barn owl) and the second one in KNP (a giant eagle owl).

We soon carried on as the owl was too far for any pix. We got to the leopard’s den shortly but she was nowhere to be seen :? ? Tension grew as we sat in the car waiting for her but our wait wasn’t long…

To be continued…

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Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2007 6:41 pm 
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Thanx Katy and MM :D I really do apprecate it!!!
Wanderw, here is your leopard :wink:

Continued… Day 5 (27 June)

As we sat, waiting, we saw her jump from a cliff. We were surprised but glad she was still there. My dad had soon found her cub running around between the trees, playing with anything that moved. It was a quick sighting but good to see her cub :D .
The leopard had come down the hill from her haven and walked past our car, across the road and started stalking some springbok.
We went towards the springbok as we couldn’t see her anymore. The springbok came closer but then darted.
No sign of the leopard though.
The springbok finally came back again, closer and then past where the leopard had been lying? We reversed back to try and see the leopard again but no sign :?
After a while we saw the leopard again behind a bush. 3 springboks had come back towards her again. Yet she didn’t go for them? After being a bit startled the 3 springboks slowly made their way back to the herd and that was that. I guess she knows her limitations and we just expected too much of her :) .
After her defeat she had walked back towards us and then up to her den. As we watched my camera decided to do its own thing and started taking pix uncontrollably... Nothing I did seem to help :x ...
Image My camera :lol: (Not to shabby)
After a while it behaved again and let me take a few more pix of my own.
Image My photo
Image My photo
Image My photo
Image My photo

It was soon time to go so off we went. I wasn’t to sure if I was really ready to leave yet :cry: . KTP certainly had given us great sightings and displays. We were hooked and have already made plans for June 2008 :dance: !!

After a few hours we got to Augrabies. We got our keys for the bungalow and unpacked. After a cup of coffee we walked to the waterfall. What a great sight!
Image Mom’s photo
Image Mom’s photo
Above: Dad and I standing on one of the look out points at the main fall.

Today was the last night we were going to be staying in any National Park. It was short lived and I truly wish I was back there. Since my time was running out I thought I better not complain about not being there tomorrow but rather just take every last second in…

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Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2007 2:40 pm 
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@MM: Lol, I'll pass the message along to my camera :lol:
@Freda: My mom is very flattered, thank you...
@Restio: Brrr, I agree.. Thanx for the comments!
@Arks: Don't know what the climates like in September... But just in case pack a really thick jacket :wink:
@Wanderw: Great to hear about the next trip!

Day 6 (28 June)

After a good nights rest we traveled into Augrabies National Park for a few hours as we were leaving in the morning on our journey back to Johannesburg :( . We left as early as we could, not wasting any valuable time in the park. Our first destination was Moon Rock. The terrain and vegetation was so much different from KTP even though they were only a stone throw away from each other :roll: . Our first animal, along with the dassies, was a klipspringer. This was a first on our trip as well. He had posed beautifully next to the road, on a rock in the sun shine :D .

Further on we saw more giraffe silhouetted on a hill, browsing on the trees near by. Soon we reached Moon rock.

As we got out the car we froze. We didn’t realize how cold it was ‘till now.
Image My photo
Above: Moon Rock in background
Image My photo
Above: A small ‘crater’ on Moon Rock

Off we went again and our next stop was Ararat. This place isn’t for the faint hearted. My mom and I are afraid of heights and we found ourselves ‘rock hugging’ well walking up to the view :redface: . I didn’t go as far as the others but I was quite happy where I was :lol: .
Image My Photo
Some of the rocks there had holes in them. Not man-made but probably eroded due to the wind as it was too high for the water to reach.

The next stop was at an old building, Oranjekom. We weren’t sure what it was used for but it had a great view nonetheless. We found quite a few mountain chats there hopping around on the boulders.
Image My photo

The next place we were going to was Echo Corner. Well going to Echo corner we had seen a pygmy falcon. That was one of my goals and sure enough I had accomplished it. It definitely is a small bird and my dad had mistaken it for a puffback (shrike) at first :shock: .
Image My photo

I was quite keen to get to Echo corner and I wasn’t let down. Nothing else seems to exist when you there. The dam in the gorge supplies a vast number of birdlife as well as the variety of trees and boulders surrounding you*sigh*.
Image Mom’s photo

When we were at the gorge I found a black eagle soaring in the thermals. I was jumping up and down at this point because this magnificent bird was at the top of my list to find along with an osprey. Wow, two accomplishments in a row :dance: !!

To be continued…

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Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2007 7:56 pm 
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@Michele Nel: My mom agrees... We would love to be in the bush 24/7 :dance:

Continue… Day 6 (28 June)

It was time to go… We were supposed to hand in our keys at 09:00 to reception but time had flown past and looking at my watch it was around 11:00. My mom and I had both argued to stay a bit longer at Echo Corner and she would accept all the consequences. The pleading didn’t help of course as we still had a long journey ahead of us.
We arrived at our bungalow, had a great breakfast once again and off to reception we went. No comments were muttered by admin for being late which lead to a sigh of relief… But then again, cursing myself for not staying at Echo Corner longer than what we did :x .

My mom’s cousin used to work in Augrabies National Park about 20 years ago and Aunty Pat seemed to be very impressed on how they’ve done the paths to get to the falls. The whole place was just overall amazing along with the scenery.
Image Mom’s photo

We had slept over at Kuruman tonight to make the journey a bit shorter and to avoid traveling at night. The place we stayed at was cozy but since we couldn’t sit outside listening to nature, we ended up playing cards.

On the way home we traveled well. Extremely sad to leave but had a splendid time… I guess home is where the heart lies so I suppose this is my home, even if I have to share it with a few Sparrowweaver chicks :roll:
Image Mom’s photo (White-browed Sparrowweaver’s nest) (My fav pic from my mom’s photos)

Animals we saw in order of sightings…

Springbok, gemsbok, yellow mongoose, dassie (rock badger), black-backed jackal, wildebeest, cape fox, leopard, ground squirrel, red hartebeest, steenbok, AWC, eland, bat-eared fox, unidentified gerbil/ mouse, 1 kudu, suricate, slender mongoose, lion, honey badger, giraffe and a klipspringer.

Birds we saw…

Bateleur
Bateleur
Bulbul
Black-capped Bulbul
Red-eyed Bulbul
Bustard
Kori Bustard
Ludwig’s Bustard *
Canary
Yellow Canary
Chat
Ant-eating Chat *
Familiar Chat
Mountain Chat
Tractrac Chat *
Crake
Black Crake
Crow
Black Crow
Pied Crow
Dove
Cape Turtle Dove
Laughing Dove
Namaqua Dove
Drongo
Fork-tailed Drongo
Eagle
African Fish Eagle
Black Eagle *
Martial Eagle
Tawny Eagle
Egret
Cattle Egret
Falcon
Lanner Falcon
Pygmy Falcon *
Finch
Scaly-feathered Finch *
Flycatcher
Marico Flycatcher
Goshawk
Gabar Goshawk
Pale Chanting Goshawk
Heron
Grey Heron
Hornbill
Grey Hornbill
Southern Yellow-billed hornbill
Kestrel
Greater Kestrel *
Rock Kestrel *
Kite
Black-shouldered Kite
Korhaan
Black Korhaan
Martin
Brown-throated Martin *
Rock Martin *
Ostrich
Ostrich
Owl
Spotted Eagle Owl *
Pigeon
Rock Pigeon
Plover
Blacksmith plover
Crowned plover
Prinia
Black-chested Prinia *
Robin
Cape Robin
Kalahari Robin *
Roller
Lilac-Breasted Roller
Shrike
Crimson-breasted Shrike
Fiscal Shrike
Sparrow
Cape Sparrow
Great Sparrow
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow
Sparrowweaver
White-browed Sparrowweaver*
Starling
Cape Starling
Pale-winged Starling *
Titbabbler
Titbabbler *
Wagtail
African Pied Wagtail
Cape Wagtail
Weaver
Masked Weaver
Sociable Weaver *
White-Eye
Cape White-eye
Vulture
White-backed Vulture

(Birds I’ve seen for the first time *)

_________________
In Kruger :P


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