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 Post subject: Peter Betts Annual September Trip to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 10:23 am 
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Hi all,

I forgot to mention I will be leaving for Kruger Park tomorrow for a 12 night stay so time permitting when I get back I will do a report.
I wont be doing my typical far north stay at Punda and visiting Pafuri but will be starting out with 2 nights at Mopani (rumour has it that the pair of White backed Night herons have been seen at Shipandane Hide recently and could be breeding again like they were this time last year) so I cant miss this opportunity to get a pic if possible of a very elusive character.
Then its off to Letaba for 2 nights and then 4 nights in tent 40 at Tambotie and onto hut 3 at Biyamiti for 4 nights...where hopefully I can catch that gorgeous S114 leopard again. Its so sad that Duke is like me with a broken tooth as I have never seen him and anyway it will be great all the same to see him..cant wait its been too long a wait since my December trip

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2009
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 10:51 am 
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Nice to see you back again Peter & nice to meet in person in Wilderness.

Maybe we can lock horns again :twisted:

Have a good trip.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:19 pm 
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Bush Baptist wrote:
Nice to see you back again Peter & nice to meet in person in Wilderness.

Maybe we can lock horns again :twisted:

Have a good trip.


Thanks BB...sorry we were all so dishevilled at the Wilderness in April but we had heard there was a Flufftail there the day before...He didnt pitch but got some nice Malachite Kingfishers which are somewhere on my hard drive. Still got you coming to Addo in my diary later this month ..but you know me if I dont get my weekly SANparks fix then I'm useless to anyone so see you then when you are here.

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2009
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors


Last edited by Peter Betts on Fri Sep 07, 2007 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:30 pm 
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Salva wrote:
Hi Peter,

have a great trip! Go and make that D200 work like it has never worked before! :twisted:

(what's your next darling going to be? D300 or D3?)


Hi Salva...you sound very well...yes Nikon caught us all by surprise. We were expecting a D3H high speed job like the MIII Canon but when full frame came out with this new Expeed setup and 12mpixels and NO NOISE to speak of plus the D300 based on past announcements was only due in April 2009. I need a 2nd body so the D300 is on order as I'm really waiting for the 1DS competition in the form of the D3X due at Photokina early next year and I need to spend the money on a good wedding lens like the new FX 24-70 and if Nikon D3X is Full Frame as expected then my 200-400 is no longer going to enjoy the 1.5x crop factor and will be plain vanilla 400mm again so it looks like I have to get the new 600 VR Nano...Doyou happen to know the winning nos of the next Lottery!!!

_________________
2009
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors


Last edited by Peter Betts on Fri Sep 07, 2007 3:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 8:09 pm 
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Foxy wrote:
Hi Peter, good to see you again.
Hope you have a wonderful trip and look forward to seeing plenty pics and a report on your return.
Travel safely.


Thanks Penny..trust you are all well in Pretoria..will be sleeping there tomorrow at mom in laws house for early start to Phalaborwa to clean out Matthew's Spar again like we did in DEC!!! Enroute through the tunnels I have an appointment with Michael who hopefully has nailed down the Taita Falcons..he is another Frank...We both need it....Jane has been working flat out for us all and needs this break...got 52 Gb of CF cards and I'm only shooting RAW now so will have more shots per card so yes there will be lots of pics

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2009
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors


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Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2007 7:58 pm 
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Hi All,

Just walked in at home an hour ago after 2 days driving... absolutely TIRED!!!! but what a trip!!!! No Leopards apart from one far up ahead in the road calling early in the morningon the Shongololo Road north of Mopani (What a camp!!!) One bird that has eluded me for over 50 years was TICKED and photographed FINALLY...Barred Owl...that was like seeing a few LITS every km for 2 days such was my excitement.. I have tons of full CF cards which I must first download and RAW convert but Jane and I reckon it was our best trip in years and that was in spite of not having our boys with us. Lots to do but will start a report shortly. Kruger is very dry especially South of the Sabie River

_________________
2009
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors


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Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 8:18 am 
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I tried to download my CF Cards last night and after the first one my Disk/scratch card got full so will have to wait for my son to return from a trip to J Bay with his mates tonight for him to transfer/ delete stuff. Anyway I managed to RAW convert the first pic so here it is of a LBR taken halfway through the trip at Tambotie Camp on a very overcast day so in order to see the colours I had to give him some fill flash
Image

_________________
2009
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 5:03 pm 
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matthew wrote:
Lovelly stuff Peter- looking forward to more... :thumbs_up:


Thanks Matthew...I read all about you and Bucky and WTM's adventures with Duke in the local papers during my stay. I did the S28 2x from Biyamiti but have still to see him!! I saw a monster ellie just outside Letaba and shared the sighting with a section ranger from just north of Letaba and he confirmed that this is probably the "new" no 1 ellie with a complete set of tusks after all the deaths of those other big ones recently further north. I am going to put a pic of it under the tusker section asking if anybody knows his name as we both could not remember it. Have a look at the pic and I'm sure you will know

_________________
2009
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 7:57 am 
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REPORT on Recent TRIP

Part 1 MOPANI CAMP

I have never stayed at Mopani as we have always camped until I sold the Land Rover and Brakah Trailer last year but I wanted to get some nice Sunset shots over the dam that I have always heard about. So a month ago I phoned Reservations and changed my 4 nights at Letaba to half Mopani / half Letaba. I then got onto the forum and found that hut 51 has the best view for sunsets so I phoned the camp and was put onto Sipho who was tremendous and assured me that I was allocated this unit.

We entered Phalaborwa Gate after a hot drive from Pretoria and a big shop at Phalaborwa SPAR. What a surprise the whole gate complex is in the process of being up graded but we were through in no time and on our way. Just after the turn off towards Mopani from the Letaba Phalaborwa road we came across a Tourist couple from Belgium who had a flat tyre in their hired car and were terrified to get out and change it. So I cleared my back seat of all the camera bags and lens cases and put them inside while I struggled to change the wheel with the flimsy car jack in their boot (give me a Hi lift jack anytime.) Anyway they were relieved and most thankful especially as I said they would probably not make Shingwedzi at normal speed and stops, so I phoned ahead and told the camp the reg no and it was okay after I told them how slow to drive if the were in darkness near their destination later.

We led the way to Mopani after seeing a huge breeding herd of ellies near the turnoff to Shimuwini..everywhere you looked there were ellies cooling off under the trees. The Belgiuns behind us were delighted. great Martial eagles and Bateleur soared above us along the way while beautiful Rollers dived to the ground for a meal , their colours contrasting with the dry surrounding countryside.

We waved our new friends good bye as we turned off to Mopani at Bowkers Kop and drove in. Sipho turned out to be most helpful and guided us towards our unit 51. I was in 2 minds about this as the only previous time I had visited a unit at this camp was to have a midday braai with friends staying there when the camp was very new and that was where I picked up my only snake bite!! WHAT A VIEW

The hut 51 which has an awesome view
Image

From the patio verandah looking right the hippos, Crocs, Waterbuck , impala were everywhere as we unpacked
Image

_________________
2009
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors


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Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 8:37 am 
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Report Continued....

Very soon we were joined by a few very friendly and tame folk..here are some of them
Image
She often used to bring her whole brood of chickens onto the stoep to scavenge any crumbs and make a great din of a noise!!
Image
He used to live in the rocks in front of us and came out to look at us all the time

Image

Jane and I then went walking around the whole of Mopani Camp on the wonderful Trail that has been laid out there. The pool was most impressive and beautifully set out. Later that evening with the fire going we watched the day end in a most spectacular sunset.. Our first night in Kruger.

Image

_________________
2009
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 12:41 pm 
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Who needs an alarm clock in Kruger when there are Natal Francolin or Spurfowl as they are called now. Sometimes I would sit bolt up right. Then it was up early and at the gate at 05h30 waiting for the 6 am gate opening as I got the cameras ready and had my coffee and chatted to lucky folk going on guided morning drives. The Long Billed Crombec in the Mopane tree at the gate gave a wonderful concert every morning as he woke up...amazing little bird. Jane always slept in as she really needs the rest and I always came back at 08h00 to pick her up for the rest of the morning drive. I always headed for Shipandane hide and was always welcomed by the resident pod of hippo
Image

On both mornings there were overnight people waking up at the hide so we could only go back there in the heat of the day to actually sit in the hide. I was really hoping that last years White Backed Night Heron would be nesting at the hide again but they were not there. Jane spotted a big Raptor on the opposite bank which threw me initially but we soon worked out that it was in fact a Juv Fish Eagle
Image

Finally it flew off to join an adult calling further downstream
Image
People often ccomplain that this area is no good for anything. For starters its a great Raptor area and we saw plenty of Wahlberg's eagles, White backed vulture nests, and lots of Snake Eagles. It was also pleasing to see so many Martial eagles after last years no sightings in 2 weeks. This was a juvenile who threw me completely by taking off with the wind and hence the very hurried shot
Image

_________________
2009
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 08, 2007 1:10 pm 
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We loved Mopani and did the walk in camp a few times and the birdlife was fantastic...what an unknown Gem this camp is. We even saw a flock of Red Winged Pratincole's flying 3 times over the dam . On one of the walks we stumbled across this Little Bee-eater, part of a group of 4 that were hawking near one of the look out benches
Image

We then went on a long drive to the new Giryondo border post. The new picnic spot looks great and we saw a lioness at the large dam at the turnoff onto the Dust road to the Border . She was far off in the long grass stalking a herd of very alert zebra who coulnt really see the cat but knew something was wrong. I saw her sit down whean Ellie herd came nearby with a lot of ellies coming in the distance > Lion dont like to have Ellies around when hunting so we knew she may try later and left for the border. On the way we saw 3 Rhino in the distance and a small group of Tssessebe. It was too glary for pics bu near the Border we went through a grove of trees and in the welcome shade i took a pic of this bushbuck.
Image

I managed later in the afternoon to get real close to a Giraffe which had a few Oxpeckers in attendance and here is one clinging to its neck..It must be ticklish for the giraffe!!
Image

_________________
2009
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors


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Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 6:49 am 
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Mopani is like driving through the Karoo on the N1. As a traveller passing through it is aweful, but stop get off the main road spend time to get to know the place and its beautiful. So it is in the Mopani area. I used to hate the trip from Letaba to Shingwedzi but I am so glad we stayed here. Shimuwini in December 06 showed us a bit of what this area promised and we were not disappointed. The huge herds of buff. The Stapelkop Dam, The Tsende River, the Tsende camp, Award winning Camp Mopane, The Shongololo Road (Brilliant = scenery and saw/tracked my only leopard on the whole trip)
The Picnic spot enroute to the Giyrondo Border Post, Shipandane overnight Hide, Mooiplaas picnic Spot, Award winning 2006 Section Rangers post, Shimuwini Bush Camp (Jane's favorite). Yes things are very lekker in Mopane land and there ARE lots of predators there so if you find the S100 a bit crowded these days stay here...sure you have to work a bit harder but just to listen to distant lion in bed at night and hear Hyeana whoops as you wake up is tremendous...and it is quiet...GREAT for not disturbing photographers subjects.

The last morning we went to visit Tsende Camp. The sign says Residents only but we wanted desperately to see the different sites so one day when we are kitted out for camping again we can go there and request the spot we want. I went and found a very likable camp superintendant and his assistant to ask him if we could look around. He was very pleased we actually asked him and he showed us where the choice sites were. It looks VERY nice...our sort of camp.
There is lots of Wild Life in the camp including a family of Coqui Francolin.
Image
Also we were thrilled to see so many groups of Ground Hornbill cruising around as they were extremely threatened a couple of years ago but I still believe they are under immense pressure with Ellies supposedly destroying most of their favored nesting sites through overpopulation. This does not bode well for future breeding success. The game we saw along the Tsende River was great including this rare (tongue in cheek) double headed - 6 legged Zebra!!
Image
As I said there were plenty of predators around and this Spotted Hyeana was one of a group of six walking towards a waterhole on the Shongololo Road early one morning.
Image
To be Continued.............

_________________
2009
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors


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Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 7:18 am 
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I still have a few moments before rushing off to my Spinning Class at the Gym....
We slowly packed the car for our short trip down the road to Letaba...We left with a heavy heart as we knew we had found a gem in Kruger...Mopane we will be back for sure. There were lions at the waterhole at the T junction to the main N/S road but too far for a pic. Along the road we found quite a few pairs of Double Banded Sandgrouse which in Golden Light are incredibly Beautiful.
Image
Crossing the Letaba River is always great and there were Ellies in the distance, and a huge herd of Waterbuck. Then a lovely Saddlebilled Stork flew by
Image
He then landed quite close to the road and as it was very quiet with no traffic and the light was still great and on the right side we slowly inched our way forward and I leant across Jane and handheld the big lens for a tight portrait.
Image
We were soon booked in at Letaba and made our way to our river view hut but first had to get past the Bushbuck and Baby standing on our doorstep!!

_________________
2009
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors


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Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 7:27 am 
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Letaba is special. The lovely shady lawns with the resident Bushbuck are very special. There are about 100 estimated to now walk around there. Jane and I went on many walks around the perimeter of the camp and everywhere you looked there were little family groups...lots of young ones and plenty pregnant females. At one stage I think the idea was to chase them out at night to keep Mr Spots outside the fence but its not happening now as on our nightly walks looking for Scops Owls and to walk off the effects of the braai we saw many eyes of Bushbuck all around and in fact 3 slept against the back wall of our hut on both nights. It wont be long before some old lady comes out of her Caravan/hut and finds one hanging in a tree above...watch this space...my American neighbour said they should change the name of Letaba to "Bushbuck Lodge" but we loved them and Jane often had a couple staring at her while she was working on the verandah. A pic of a Letaba Bushbuck
Image
We saw many flocks of Wattle Starlings in the area which I found most interesting as they are a highly nomadic species. I also love doing the Mingerhout dam river route while staying at Letaba. One morning I was trying to locate a Purple Crested Loerie and was late to go and fetch Jane at camp at the agreed time of 08h00...I always am the first out every morning and enjoy my 2 hr quiet time on my own in the bush as it wakes up. Anyway as I was about to start my car the biggest (tallest) ellie walked into the road and proceeded to walk down the road blocking my way...he wasnt going to get off. Now in Addo all you have to do is slowly drive past by sqeezing through the widest gap on the side and the Addo Ellie will give you a beady eye as you pass and nothing else. This guy would have nothing of it and would turnaround and face me down as I crawled behind him. He was in Musk (sp) as he was leaking a very smelly urine (in this stage an ellie can drip up to 400litres of urine a day) and he was in a bad mood. Finally after 20 minutes I got past with wide eyed tourists in a Combi who were coming in the other direction and must have reversed at least a km!!
Image
The big angry ellie described above on one of his warning turn arounds. This one was his last and I had to resort to a big loud bang with my hand on the outside of the car door (an old trick from my youth) and this sent him off the road and allowed us to pass. Notice the drops of urine and his urine coated legs ...no wonder he was crotchety!!!
To Be continued

_________________
2009
Punda Maria Sept 27,28
Bateleur Sept 29,30 (free award)
Tamboti Oct 1,2,3,4
Biyamiti Oct 5,6,7,8

FGASA Local Area Guide

Nikon D700 FX, Nikkor 24-70 G f2.8, Nikkor 70-200VR f2.8, Nikkor 200-400 VR f4, Nikon 1.4 & 1.7 Convertors


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