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 Post subject: NEW EASY TO LOAD - UKbadger and Jenny’s Kruger Trip Aug 07
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:08 am 
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I am taking a deeeeeep breath and getting myself ready for a complete resize of all the pics in our report. It seems that a lot of people have been having trouble opening the photos in our posts as they were just too big and too many at a time. Rather than try to redo the existing thread, I am going to start a new one with the smaller piks and split it into much smaller individual posts.

So -------- here goes!!


At last we are able to start our trip report, after a somewhat stressful time getting the new school year underway plus processing and sorting 4,200 odd photos, PHEW!!

This was our 4th trip to SA and the 3rd entirely in the Kruger but the 1st since discovering this fantastic forum and the 1st with digi. cameras.

Trying to become expert in the 10 months between Oct. and 5th Aug. was perhaps a little ambitious, but we have had so much help from the forum and are so, so grateful.

Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th AUG. PART 1

Left London on 5th in hot sun, arrived Joberg 11 hours later in 12 degrees, freeezzzing! Phalaborwa was not much warmer and dull/cloudy, UK to Africa????
Was I imagining it or did the plane leap into the air with more than the usual ease? Well, probably, as half the passengers had no baggage on board!!!!!!

We were lucky as the 1 out of 3 bags that arrived with us, had all our bathroom stuff in it, but no clothes. However, a certain smugness crept over us as we had booked 2 nights at Mopani just in case and had made sure that our bins and a complete and functional photo kit for our cameras was in our flight bags! Who needs spare clothes in Kruger anyway?
Our car turned out to be a Toyota AVANZA which though not as good as a Condor, {not as tall and the rear windows don’t quite go all the way down}, was probably better for photography/game viewing than the VW we had ordered.

So it was off to the SPAR supermarket and onward to the gate and into our first day.

We set off on the H14 for Mopani. Jenny, [she did not want to be Mrs Badger or the Badgers wife for that matter] saw the first Hornbill and Impala, though the light was not good for photos.

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This Sabota Lark was the first bird we photographed or rather Badger photographed as he had the 100-400 Zoom, [sometimes + the 1.4 extender], on one Cam. body and Jenny the 24-105 on the other. The idea was for Jenny to get the all important landscapes and general view shots that give a context to, and make proper sense of, the “heavy glass” close ups.

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Had to stop for these Ellies to move off, we saw several Ellie fights this trip and although this one was not too intense, we did not fancy getting between them!!

“Look up ahead, it’s a Lion crossing the road, do Lions have curly tails?”

It’s a LEOPARD!!!!!!
As it was moving fast we drove quickly to where it had disappeared and managed this photo before it became a well hidden LIT. our first ever.

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Wow, and in the first 2 hours of our trip!


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Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:14 am 
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Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th AUG. PART 2


The first Grey Hornbill and a House Sparrow to remind us of home!

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Shortly after this we noticed a big red warning light had appeared on the dash. The handbook told us that it was the antilock braking system and that we should stop and summon help. Hmm, we decided that as no ill affects were showing we would continue our crawl to Mopani and summon help there!!

After a chilly night we managed to get hold of BUDGET cars and arranged to have a Corolla, the only spare car they had, delivered by 10.00 and about the same time our bags arrived from the airport, big relief, a change of clothes!

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The only other available AVANZA was in Joberg, but they had it driven up and delivered to Mopani by 10.00 the following day!
In the end we only missed half a days Krugering and some of that was spent birding in the camp.


This breakfast visitor was a Natal Francolin.

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BIG TIP, it’s definitely worth booking the first 2 nights within easy distance of the airport and make sure that your hand baggage contains a self contained Safari Kit, Camera, Bins, chargers for batteries {car ones are best as they are light}, photo storage, empty bean bags etc.


Finally we were ready to go, hurray!!!!!!

12.00 Set off for the S146 Stapelkop dam road and soon were in business with this Jacana and Little Croc on the ford near Shipandani Hide.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 10:22 am 
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Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th AUG. PART 3

Got this Helmeted Guinea. Crowned Plover, Purple Roller. and amazing Baobab in which was an African Harrier Hawk on the way to Stapelkop Dam. Although we waited a long time at the dam nothing of note appeared except these Waterbuck.

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On previous trips we saw hardly any Purple Rollers but this time they seemed to be everywhere in the North.
Pearl Spotted Owlet on the way back and the Giraffe near the Mopani turn off.

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Restaurant food was very good and the cottage great but the Corolla was giving us backache already, so we were really looking forward to getting our new AVANZA the next day.


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Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 9:39 pm 
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Am hoping this won’t slow things down again. :pray:

Wed 8th Aug. part 1

Left Mopani 6.06 headed out on the S49-S143, it was dull, cold and game was almost nonexistent. When we got to the S50 and the Shawu marshes there was a small herd of buffs feeding in the distance and a little further north these obliging Reedbuck.

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A little further still and these Tsessebe on a mission southward appeared and we turned to follow them for some time trying to get some descent pics. but the light was just too boring. Found them again a few days later in better conditions.

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This young Kudu was looking especially handsome.

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Got this Ellie shot on the Trop. of Capricorn Loop and is one of my favourites, somehow for me it gets to the essence of Elephant in Mopani Bush.

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This Secretary Bird was off the H1-6 on the way back to Mopani where we had arranged to swap the Corolla for the Avanza at 10.00. at reception. However, at 9.40 we met the driver with the Avanza on the Mopani approach road headed AWAY from the camp!!!!
“Look there’s a car just like ours”,
“I think that’s our driver, HELP that’s our car, STO------------------------P”
It turned out that he had gone to our cottage, having been there the day before and the cleaner told him that we had gone. So instead of waiting for us at reception as arranged, he said he was on his way to Punda Maria, 130K away to find us!!!!!

PHEWWWWWWWWWW that was a close shave!!

BIG TIP no.2, for people coming from outside Africa do be careful when making arrangements, do not assume that the person you are talking to understands what you are saying, always go over the details till you are quite sure there are no misunderstandings.

We now had Avanza no.2 and left Mopani at 10.35 for Shingwedzi and Punda.

It somehow felt as if the trip proper was only just starting.

We took the H1-6 looking hard all the way but not much too report and certainly no decent photos till this good looking guy was spotted from a bridge, not quite sure which one.

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We stopped at one point as there was an enormous racket coming from the Mopani woods and trees were waving like grass in a gale. Unfortunately the protagonists responsible for the disturbance were only “staring each other down” when they briefly appeared in a gap.

Drat!!

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Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2007 9:43 pm 
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Wed 8th Aug. part 2


We had a careful lookout for Owls and big Tuskers along the Shingwedzi river, with no luck, sadly, but that was to improve later in the trip!!
We stopped at the camp for an ice cream and left by the east gate and crossed over the causeway. The river was almost empty with just a few pools remaining. This Greenbacked Heron was fishing in the shade of a big tree on the North bank.

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Headed north again on the famous S56 Mphongolo Loop, but despite slow driving and high concentration on our spotting, most of the usual the game must have been curled up at home with a cup of whatever Safies have instead of tea.

Fortunately we didn’t draw a complete blank.
We were fascinated by this Tree Squirrel, as we have never seen our European Squirrels use their tails like this. Perhaps he was trying to keep his toes warm, in this dull weather he probably needed to!

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Came across a marauding gang[?] of Banded Mongoose, no idea how many, they seemed to be everywhere at once. Could have been the same two going non stop round in circles, or figures of eight, or reef knots! I an amazed that I even got this grey looking shot.

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It had to happen sooner or later, as we came round a corner this mobile block of flats was coming, none too steadily, in our direction. Time to find reverse gear, gentle on the clutch, no stalling now. “Jenny quick, get a photo” and she did, I was very proud of her!
He backed us down the very windy road for I don’t know how far, probably not as far as it seemed though!

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Eventually he went off to the side and we sneaked carefully past.

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The slightly less scary end.

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Not as big as “Big Daddy” but these people have more courage than us, especially as we were in the middle of a breeding herd.

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The only other photo op. before Punda, probably our favourite camp.

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We went to bed full of dreams about the Mahoni Loop, Pafuri and the Luvuvu river, ---mmmmmmmmmm this is the life.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 10:43 pm 
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Th. 9th Aug. 07 part 1

We decided to start with an anticlockwise trip round the Mahoni Loop, and headed out with windows down, jumpers on and ears straining for any telltale sounds.

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Soon the sun was rising and the golden light time began.

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We saw so many Common Duikers and Sharpe’s Grysboks, but despite not running away immediately as they did on almost all of our previous trips. They almost always managed to have at least one bush/branch/strategic leaf to spoil the shot.

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Duiker and Grysbok in the same shot even if the little blighter wouldn’t put his head up!!!

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Here he is, but not in shot with his “friend”.

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We spent almost all of our time birding with new ticks coming steadily through the morning.
Almost all pics. taken were to help with identification, but here are two of the more interesting ones

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I have my own theory re. male Nyalas. When God had just finished painting the first male Nyala he said, “Don’t stand out in the rain ‘til your coat dries out”.
Nyala was so proud of his new coat, but unfortunately spotted a group of beautiful young females on the other side of the river.

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Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2007 10:46 pm 
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Th. 9th Aug. 07 part 2


About half way round the loop the road crosses a small concrete bridge/weir and on it was this beautiful lizard.

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The final Grysbok of the morning.

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After arriving back in camp we did that thing that Kruger puts right out of your mind, we looked at the time, 12.00 ----- we had taken almost six hours to get round the Mahoni Loop. All the people who we told looked at us amazed, but honestly there wasn’t a dull moment.
After some grub we went off to explore the new bird hide that looks out from the campsite. There was a constant coming and going of birds to the puddles a little way into the bush, great for bird watching but too far away for photos. Managed to get these though, Vervet Monkeys, Little Sparrow Hawk and Fork Tailed Drongo.

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Got talking to our neighbours who turned out to be forum members, Andy Pay and SO from the UK, they too had been before for a one off trip only to be lured back.

Spent the end of the day back on the Mahoni only clockwise this time! Saw mainly Kudu and Nyala this time.

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and the Monitor was still on the weir.

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I know the pics. are rubbish, but I just couldn’t resist putting in these members of the Crested Guineafowl Elvis impersonators club. I think someone has just tried to tell this guy that the King really is dead.

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Restaurant was small and friendly, the northern camps seemed to have a sensible policy of limiting choice, but do what they do well. So much better than the other way round.

Then off to bed thinking about tomorrow and the Luvuvhu River, Pafuri and the Fevertree Forest!!


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Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 1:59 am 
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Friday 10th Aug ’07 Part 1

Left Punda at 5.56!! headed for the main road north, Pafuri here we come.
Couldn’t resist the odd stop and detour to Kloperfontain on the way.

Never seen a Cheetah on a signpost, but this looked like evidence to me. It’s a POP!! :wink:

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We like to get habitat shots to go with the close-ups, as with this Steenbok and Buffs.

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After the first Klopperfontein, the one with Ellie tank, we spotted a herd of Eland, but they were already far away and going to visit distant friends.
Stopped at Klopperfontein Dam for a while but nothing turned up except this Saddle-Billed Stork and the inevitable Zebras, just can’t resist them.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 2:03 am 
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Friday 10th Aug ’07 Part 2

Not much game was seen as we went north till we got to the Luvuvhu Floodplain, when birds suddenly started to be seen and heard all around. Just missed getting a photo of our first ever Orange-breasted Bush Shrike, what a bird, I’ll dream of pressing the button on that one!!

Then Meves’ Longtailed Starling,

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and on to one of our favourite places, the Luvuvhu Bridge.

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This Wire Tailed Swallow was so tame he must be in the pay of SANparks, but we weren’t complaining.

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The local Vultures were just getting going with the first thermals of the day as did this Fish Eagle a moment later.

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Young Green Backed Heron

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Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 8:55 pm 
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Friday 10th Aug ’07 Part 3

Then off to Pafuri, this day was a public holiday and the picnic site was packed, much to the delight of the Vervets. It was fascinating to see how patiently they waited and with such concentration for their raids on the unwary.
Apart from the river, the place seemed to be devoid of birds at first, but with a little of the Vervet’s patience we were rewarded with this Tropical Boubou, White Browed Robin Chat and Yellow Bellied Bulbul. Lots of LBJs for our list as well.

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Not far from Pafuri we met Andy Pay and SO who had done the proper birders thing and gone straight there without stopping. Consequently they got there before the picnickers and had the full tour from Frank with l-------ots of birds, crafty people. They had just seen some Retz’s Hemet Shrikes so we set off looking hard and found them, yes, another new tick, no photo though.

I’ve tried for ages to get a good Him ‘n Her shot of Nyala so was delighted with this handsome pair.

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Had to wait a while for this, I think, Yellow-throated Plated Lizard to come out of his crack.

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“Dainty and the Dinosaur”, {Great White Egret n’ Fat Croc}.

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Are these the most beautiful trees in the world?

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Up ahead we saw a big traffic jam in one of the river loops so went on to the far entrance and went in to find out if there was a LIT. It turned out to be this herd standing in the river obviously wanting to cross but unwilling to face the traffic. Took the shot and left as they looked distinctly menacing.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 8:58 pm 
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Friday 10th Aug ’07 Part 4


At Crook’s Corner the Limpopo looked almost empty, it was hard to imagine it as a raging torrent!
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White Crowned Lapwing n’ Brown Headed Kingfisher.

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We wanted to spend some time on the Nyala drive so went back on the tar, this wide smooth road seemed strangely out of place somehow.
The amazing baobabs of the Nyala drive were worth the trip for themselves but no Black Eagles I’m afraid, just this Dark Chanting Goshawk. We saw lots of them this trip in all parts of the park having only seen one once in our three previous visits.

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Under the trees at the end of the Drive were a pair of Three Striped, woops! The new name is Brown-crowned Tchagra.

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Called in at Klopperfontein on the way back.

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Shared a lovely meal with Andy and Helen who'd had an even better birding day than us.


Tomorrow, more Mahonie, the first Lion and owls at Shingwedzi.


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Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2007 10:09 pm 
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Sat. 11th Aug. 07

The night was hot, well hot for us, and we heard lions roaring at 3.00 in the morning. It was hard to tell what direction they were in but come 6.00 am we were heading for the Mahonie again! We let the sun govern our direction, anticlockwise gives the best light so anticlockwise it was.
Oh dear! :cry: :cry:

I put on our new flash gun as the light was still very low and was relieved to discover, it worked OK.

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When we got to the first water hole on the left, it’s not marked on our map, we suddenly got a burst of excitement. The spotted one has passed this way a very short time ago!! Despite our best efforts searching all around and driving up and down no more evidence was found. Boo!!! :cry:

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After the embarrassment of the flash pic. of Impalas, just 2 to restore the reputation!

I hope!!

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The everyday Yellowbilled to go with the not every day Crowned hornbills. We have seen them on the Loop on a previous trip and were disappointed at not finding them on Thursday.

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Just as the hornbill decided to go for a quick drink, there was a fast low streak and this fella’ landed 50 or so metres away. Wow! another Little Sparrow Hawk, fantastic. Later, when processing the pics. and double checking with our now rather tatty SASOL guide, I realised it was a Cuckoo Hawk. I blush to think how quick I was to make that original identification. :redface:

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Apart from the usual long distance sightings of the beautiful but more oft seen game, not much happened until we go to the top of the last big hill. Here we met some cars searching for a pride of lions that they had seen earlier in the morning hunting not far from the road.

_*(%$” &"£$%_(E$!(E£ :mrgreen:

Their spoor was all over the road, but despite scanning the hillside thoroughly with our bins. and driving up and down with ever more forlorn expressions, not a whisker was to be seen. The almost very same thing had happened to us on our last trip only with a clockwise Loop!!! So we had to content our selves with this guy doing his liony thing not far from the camp.

This is what we saw.

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40 minutes later this is what we saw.

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3 minutes later this is what we saw.

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Was it worth it? Well it might have been.

We do love the birds, but there is still something special about fir and whiskers!

9.30 A stop at Punda, then off to Shingwedzi for the next couple of days.
We did have a quick look at the new tents on platforms before we left, they look absolutely brilliant, maybe another time.

The southward trip, h1-7, S56, was rather unproductive and hot despite looking hard all the time. Still, Waterbuck have such wonderful faces and the Impies had let the sun get to them.

Looking at this again I think the sun had got to me when I wrote it!!! :redface: :roll:

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Oo I can't look!

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Mmm!

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He, he!

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A bit frustrating, Vultures on the other side of the river, I wonder what they could see?

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This White Fronted Bea Eater was having better hunting than us.

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We entered Shingwedzi over the low water crossing and this terrapin was trying his best to be an exciting subject, bless him.

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Got some well earned ice creams and settled in to our comfy bungalow with short rest of the eyes, then out towards Kanidood.

Shortly after leaving the gate we came upon this fantastic but rather unimpressed Verreaux’s Eagle Owl and his mate.

“Haven’t you got anything better to do than stare at us?”
“No, actually”

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“Your ssso boring”

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“All I’ve got to say to you is”

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“You still there?”

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The views of the dam through the trees were magnificent in the evening light but we were so tired: it shows in the pics. I think, these are the best!! Booked a night drive for the next day, another excellent meal in restaurant and cra---sh----ed out!

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Tomorrow has a jewel at Red Rocks, people - loud, people - nervous and much staring into trees, except when really needed!


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Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 12:25 am 
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There seem to be three basic ways to tackle a “Report” , telling the story in words with a pic. or two, telling the story mainly in pics. with a word or two, or just showing off your totally, sickeningly, amazing photos with a tip or two as to where and when you should have been on that day. We decided to go for a mixture of the first two, with an emphasis on when, where, and what we saw with the occasional “worked on” Photograph when we managed one!

It would be interesting to know what Forumites think of the different report styles.

Sun. 12th Aug. 07

We decided to head out on the Red Rocks road S52 as we saw lots of game there in ’05 including three hyenas in the first half hour and Nico and Yvonne who saw mating leopards here! I already had a stiff neck from days of looking into every likely tree, but the thought of that sighting kept me at it.

However—

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It’s the same in the UK some of our common birds are fantastically beautiful but we tend to take them for granted, Oh it’s just a Chaffinch/Jay. Safies your starlings aren’t just a pest at picnics, they’re a real eye full.

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This Drongo is more for the pretty background colours!

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So far we have had more good sightings, not to say photos, of Duikers than in all our previous trips. They usually run off at the first sight or sound of you, like the wild deer at home.

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Apart from these two, nothing of note appeared till we got to the Red Rocks river crossing.

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Views from the crossing, into and away from the sun.

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We watched this little jewel of a Malachite kingfisher for ages, could have done with a 1000mm lens though!

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At this point we realised that we would be lucky to make it back to camp as the fuel gauge was almost on empty, we had forgotten to fill up last night!
ӣ$%^_)(*&
So no more air con at sightings and Tshanga lookout will have to be missed out this time.

I’ve been hoping for a chance to photograph YB Hornbills courtship display for ages, these two had just finished by the time I got the lens out of the window. We stayed for a while but there was no display, maybe they were a bit shy, or maybe too fascinated by the look of our faces glistening with sweat. It was getting HOT!

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I love the way the light glows right through this Brownhooded Kingfisher’s bill.

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This waterhole isn’t marked on our old map though I do recognise it from other reports. Reflections seemed to be a recurring theme in our photos this trip.

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We did make it back to camp but our petrol tank must have looked like the Shingwedzi Riverbed. Booked a night drive and as we got back to our cottage this fellow was on the wall, it’s the biggest insect we have ever seen.

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Is there anyone who could identify it for us?

Refreshed we headed east along the Shingwedzi river/Kanidood Dam driving down all the little river loops and lookouts. Animals were much more plentiful here where the water was, with lots of Water and Bush Buck along the bank as well as the crocs. and Hippos.

It was getting hotter and hotter so we decided to take a sandwich brake to rest our eyes as much as anything. So we found a big leafy tree with a view of the river/dam and thankfully pulled into its shade.

And-------- then-------------.


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Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 12:30 am 
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Sun. 12th Aug. 07 part 2


Out came the food and some coo—l drinks, a gentle sigh, a casual look out the window straight into the face of a LEOPARD. It was head down 2m from the ground and about 5m away.
Oh ^%$£””£$%^!! By the time I’d slid the sandwiches gently from my lap and lens brought to bare it was already half way down the bank. It slunk as only a leopard can, round below us and up stream into the undergrowth leaving us in a state of shock staring into the palms!!

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The palms!!

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We drove quickly out onto the road in the hope it would cross over, then up and down peering down the river bank and into the trees, but to no avail.

The tree. Ah, what might have been!!

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Taken along the river as we returned to camp a little early to be ready for the night drive.

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The Bush Buck are so pretty.

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These two got nearly across the river before something spooked them.

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Crested Barbet and African spoonbill

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It was even too hot for this Slender Mongoose, I’ve never seen one “flomp” out like this before.

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We stopped at Kanidood Bird hide and I have to say it is the most nervy entrance to a hide we have seen so far, with dense undergrowth coming right up to the steps and no door. Is the instruction to park right underneath to give some protection from Elephants? When we arrived there were two very nervous Germans sitting in their car too frightened to get out, they pointed up stream and said, “3K lions”, so we pointed downstream and said, “1K Leopard”, trying to look very experienced and confident. In truth, there could have been any number of dangerous beasts within metres and we couldn’t have known!! Emboldened by our fake confidence they joined us in the hide until a very noisy car full of children arrived and put an end to seeing anything much.

Why put the hide there so far away from the birds when there are so many better spots nearby?

Back to camp, for an early meal before our night drive.
The Driver/Ranger was excellent, I only wish we could remember his name, he showed such an obvious love of the bush and all its inhabitants. I think he also enjoyed and appreciated our enthusiasm; he certainly enjoyed the tip we gave him!!

We found a Large Spotted Genet almost straight away and then this Wild Cat, right near the top of our wish list, YES!

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Verreaux’s Eagle Owl with twig. rrrrrrrrrrr and Scrub Hair.

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Then to cap it off, another very quick glimpse of a leopard slinking off into the bush.

Two Leopards and a Wild Cat in one day!

Coming next:- move to Olifants, big tusker, rare antelope and a miscalculation.


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Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:24 am 
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Mon. 13th Aug. 07 part 1

Up and out by 6.00, it was cloudy and warm with a touch of drizzle.
We were moving to Olifants today and decided to start with the S50 to Mopani, which we had not travelled before. Wow, what a beautiful road it is with great views along the Shingwedzi river that had big pools of water for 20k.

This Fish Eagle was right next to the road and had a fish in his talons. He eventually flew off into a tree to eat it.

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Stopped at Niawutsi Hide but despite there being plenty of evidence of activity, nothing turned up except this Whiteheaded Vulture.

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Then on to Grootvlei Dam, a really big one with an amazing single file road that takes you along the top of the dam wall. There was almost no water left and what remained was full of catfish. This Fish Eagle just sat and watched probably too full to fly.

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Despite there being large amounts of open space around them the animals were very jumpy taking ages to get up the courage to drink and the Zebras in particular panicked at the slightest thing.

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There were a pair of Saddle Billed Storks hunting Catfish in the shallows and it seemed as if they were trying to find the smaller easy to swallow ones.

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In the far distance we could just see with our bins. some Tsessebe with the Zebras but they didn’t come to the water.

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Submitted by Trrp-trrrrrrrr at 19:44:02 Submitted by Foxy at 20:38:38 Submitted by Mrs. S.K.L.Gauntlett at 23:46:02 Submitted by ritad at 22:53:47