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 Post subject: Mybs returns to KTP
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 7:51 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
After having a great time in January, I decided to return for a quick camping trip between 17 and 24 April 2009. We could only get place at TR and Mata Mata, but as you all know, any place and any time are good in the KTP!!

Our party consisted of 8 guys (no ladies this time) which were made up of 3 father and son teams and my SO's brother-in-law from the UK and his brother from Johannesburg. For 5 of the guys, this was their first visit to the KTP and I'm sure some of them will also become addicts.

This was my 8th trip during the last 5 years and, as always, this visit was different from the previous trip. The weather was great, ranging between 15 and 33 degrees celcius on average. What a difference from the 44 degrees we had in January!

All but the last 2 days were perfect blue sky days. We had one windy thunderstorm to remind us that we were camping, but the amazing cloud formations made up for the wet tents.

As mentioned by Dreamer and Caracal and others in their recent trip reports, the Aoub valley looks so different at present. High grass and flowers everywhere. Really beautiful. Makes game viewing somewhat challenging, but all that more rewarding when something is sighted.

The road conditions were not that good when we arrived, extremely corrugated. During the week we saw the tractor/tyres grader at work and conditions improved somewhat.

Due to the construction going on at Mata Mata and on the TR-Nossop road, there were many 'construction related' vehicles (including large trucks) on the roads and I saw them speeding at times. I wish these drivers would be more considerate.

Instead of doing a conventional trip report, I will be posting some pics to share some of our experiences with you.

Due to the long grass, it was difficult (read impossible) to see the smaller game like foxes and meerkat. I could not even see the Cape Fox dens at Dalkeith. One could easily drive past lions lying down without seeing them. The birds were much easier to see and I managed to get 2 lifers!!

I am still busy uploading my pics and include the following as an introduction:

Tawny Eagle in flight:

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Swallow-tailed Bee-eater:

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Black-shouldered Kite taking off:

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More to follow...


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 5:36 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
Our first 3 nights/days at TR were spent looking for the leopard and cub, but unfortunately they were not to be seen. The closed road to Nossop does restrict the game-viewing somewhat as the dune road can be quiet. We did manage to see 3 jackals on the same place every morning and they were quite happy to pose.

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One morning we also saw 4 bat ear foxes on the road, but they quickly disappeared when we stopped. No chance for photos.

The first part of the Aoub valley is still dry with not much grass (in comparison with the rest of the park) and provided good sightings of all the regulars.

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We drove through to Kamqua and back each morning, and saw lions each time, albeit always far away on the dunes or on the other side of the river bed. Just past Munro a pride had taken down a wildebeest and were eating on it for two days. Unfortunately it was far away, behind bushes and did not provide good photographic opportunities. I had promised my visiting friends close-up encounters with lions (and other cats)!!

The highlight of 3 days on the TR side was a good sighting of an African wild cat and her 2 kittens. Managed by chance to see the mother only because she twithced her ears.

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The bee-eaters were displaying nicely and I managed to get some reasonable shots.

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More later...


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 7:34 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
I'm glad that the pics are enjoyed by you forumites. One never gets tired of looking at KTP shots somehow.

Thanks Lee, we did get home safely late on Friday night, trust you did as well? Looking forward to seeing your Nossob shots!!

Some more bird shots taken between TR and MM:

Wheatear

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BS Kite

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Marico Flycatcher

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Juvenile Bateleur

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Melba Finch (cropped heavily, but lifer for me)

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Lanner Falcon

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Striped Kingfisher

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Beautiful male lion at 14th Borehole

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The next few days at MM brought a couple of highlights which I'll share with you a bit later.


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:56 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
Driving to Mata Mata delivered a few highlights. We magaged briefly to see the Suricates near Houmoed. Note the eye-to-eye contact with the fly/bee!

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Also saw the usual number of PCG's and this one allowed a nice take-off shot.

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We did not see that many owls during this trip, but at least this Giant Eagle Owl at Dalkeith allowed us some shots.

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In the same vicinity (Dalkeith) we saw a number of LBR's (4 in one tree) and I managed to get a reasonable take-off shot.

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The Tawny take-off also gave some good photo opportunities.

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Looking at my photographs now I realise that the vast majority are of birds because of the difficulty of seeing all the smaller animals due to the high grass. How many people drove past me as I was photographing and merely said 'Oh' when I replied that I was 'only' shooting a bird!! They miss out on such a lot!!

That evening at 14th borehole we had the beautiful male lion sighting and I managed a few shots before the light got too bad.

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The end of another beautiful day in the Kgalagadi.

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More to follow.


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP
Unread postPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 12:07 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
Thanks for all the kind comments on my photos. I'm a rank amateur but have learnt a few basics that I could maybe share with those that might be interested:

1. Know your equipment. Set up your camera before you leave on the game drive, anticipate what aperture/shutter speed etc you will need to use. You must be able to change settings quickly (know how) to get that special shot.

2. I spend a lot of time positioning myself for the shot. Look at the light and how it falls on the subject. Look at the background (can't stress this enough!) and make sure that it does not overpower the subject. I find that it works better to have a slightly darker background for birds (eg bee-eaters) to make the colours stand out.

3. Get out as early as possible! Use some fill-in flash if light gets too harsh.

4. Don't be shy and speak to other photographers to learn from them.

Enough about that.

We camped at Mata Mata for 4 nights and had hyenas visiting the waterhole one night. The construction going on must surely have an effect on animals visiting the waterhole during the day as not much was seen.

Met up with Lee Slabber and shared some stories. Waiting for the TR/photos Lee!!!

We were priviliged to see Mummy (Pikasso has confirmed ID) on a kill at 14th borehole one evening and although it was some way off the road, a few shots were possible.

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There was no sign of the cub ('Skinny'). Of course, we had to rush back to camp to make the 06h30 closure time. Unlike some other camps, they seem to be very punctual at MM!!

The next morning early we headed off to 14th borehole again to see whether any scavengers had got to the kill. Just past Sitzas, as the road makes a dip, the car behind (my friends) flicked their lights and we reversed. We spotted nothing but long grass. They assured me that they had seen something and it looked like a cheetah close to the road! At first I thought it might have been the previous night's whisky playing tricks with their eyes, but sure enough, there it was, not more than 10 meters from the road:

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I then changed to a bigger lens and got some close-ups.

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The young cheetah also was on a kill which we could not identify due to the long grass. Looked like something dark, possibly a bat-eared fox.

I was quite exited as this could be Skinny. Unfortunately not. Pikasso is certain that this is not Skinny. He compared photos and there are various differences. Pity.

More later.


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