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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 5:24 pm 
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Along this interesting hike in the trees, we had some great views...although SO was valiantly trying to avoid them...he was good stuff to face his fear and was rewarded with some great photos. Although a significant number of blurry shaking photos were culled!
You will note the missing plank along this high trail!
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We saw our first fever trees…these were thought to have been the cause of malaria, since they are found in swampy areas, where people used to get sick. It was then discovered that in fact the mosquito was the source of the fever. The trees are an interesting shade of lime green. Sorry the light wasn't great for these shots, and doesn't really do them justice....
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At the blind at the end of the walk, we spotted a croc sunning on the sand bar; watched the antics of a pied kingfisher; admired colourful white fronted bee-eaters; and searched unsuccessfully for hippo. It was quite a chilly day, and the wind had a nip to it, so all those beasts had found a nice secluded locale to wait for the sun.
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TMLL braved the hike back out, and was grateful to be back on solid ground.

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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:45 pm 
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Further along on the drive we came to the Confluence Viewpoints, where you could take several walks. We first walked on the Pinnacle Walk, which took you to some impressive lookouts over some very prehistoric terrain. I’ll let the photos do the talking for me. The blue waxbill was our first new bird to photograph..although it is a little blurry..sorry. The terrain was so much like the 'beehives' of central Australia...also a very ancient land. A forest of petrified trees stood on one side (third photo down), and some impressive chasms gave great views (4th photo-well for one of us- ha).
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The other walk to the Confluence had a most interesting inviting start…not. It was the San Parks sign indicating that they are not liable if you have a fatal accident on the walk! Ha…not exactly the most encouraging or confidence building way to start a small hike…but we survived and we don’t feel the need to sue them..ha! The small hike was beautiful (a troop of baboons added to the adrenalin) and very nicely laid out along a path that I think would have been wheel chair friendly. It took you to 4 viewing decks where you could see great sights from the Sunset deck, the Confluence deck, the Main deck and the Sunrise deck (Shown in this order and in the next section cause the words are jumping at me!).
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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:57 pm 
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Thanks CC...you really are watching studiously!!!

Views from the sunset deck:
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View from the Confluence deck:
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View of the Main deck from the Confluence deck:
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View from the Main deck showing all three countries:
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View of the pathway...
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Each one had super views of the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers. These bodies of water…well if there was water everywhere, divided South Africa, from the north western country of Botswana and the north eastern country of Zimbabwe. Along with the views we were watched by that troop of baboons; a slender mongoose, blue waxbills, long tailed glossy starlings and a host of little flitting birds that didn’t have the courtesy to wait to be photographed.
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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 10:40 am 
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A park employee kindly gave us directions out of the Confluence area, as the road we were about to travel appeared rocky and rough and the map wasn't overly accurate. We carried on down the escarpment along a very isolated bumpy river road, glad to have 4x4 truck capabilities along the way, although we toughed it out without them. Our sedan vehicle would not have successfully navigated this route. The road passed through riverine forests where baboons hung out in great numbers; banded mongoose dug for treats; we saw different kingfishers (brown hooded) and there were giant fig and fever trees.
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Although we wanted to see elephant, this was not the venue to have a great visit, as there was a tall electric fence on the river side keeping the vegetation ‘natural’ and high rock abutments on the inland side. So you just hoped elephants weren’t around, ‘cause it would have been a seriously adrenalin pumping time reversing in a hurry if you needed to!!
The road opened up into Zebra Pan, where more prehistoric baobabs ruled amongst rocky outcrops.
ImageA Verreault’s Eagle roosted majestically on the rocks, but its photo was more action than focus. Vegetation also tried to eek out an existence on the rocks...this is one tough tree!
ImageWe felt fairly isolated…as we had only seen 1 other car in a long time (5 cars in total all day). Rock dassies sunned for some warmth. The pan opened to house wildebeest, zebra and waterbuck…some very photogenic.
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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:31 am 
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We drove further from Zebra Pan to Khongoni Pan where more wildebeest and zebra enjoyed the vegetation.
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ImageSuch an isolated place…perfect for some rhino...or an elephant or two…not to be. There was lots of evidence that they had been there both in destruction and ummm remnants..
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or was there some person just leaving deposits on the road to give the silly tourists hope??? We are so gullible you know.
Shoda Dam was next, surrounded by low Mopani trees…we found another species of kingfisher (striped) here and more white fronted bee-eaters.
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We were very disappointed that the cultural interpretive museum was not yet opened, but happened to sit at a pond just outside the museum and spent a good deal of time snapping photos of the wildlife which abounded. There were zillions of teeny fish in that pond all leaping like sizeable rain drops on the water. These attracted 5 pied kingfishers, and we were amused by their hovering efforts to catch the fish. They were exceptionally successful and the little porkers ate non-stop for nearly the hour we watched…each of them consuming 10’s of fish…where did the fish fit in those tiny birds??
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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 8:59 am 
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So here is another viewpoint of those kingfishers...they were awesome to photograph. Thank goodness for digital cameras, otherwise we would have burned through many rolls of film!!!
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We also watched terrapin…no doves around…a three banded plover, painted snipe, grey heron and a hammerkop.
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Then we took another drive to a pan, where we saw kudu, impala, ostrich and finally a really good look at an elusive (for us) klipspringer, right beside the road…they do exist!!
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It was a wonderful day in the Park, where we saw loads of new creatures and may be keen enough to return next March for the hike and the interpretive center. Maybe by then they will have stocked the park with actual elephants and rhino!!! Ha. Here is a parting shot of the end of our day. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. (Next up Postberg section of WCNP revisited...stay tuned!!!)
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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:41 pm 
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So we are shifting from dry northern Limpopo to the West Coast National Park...nothing like a little variety!!
This trip happened August 22/10 and will consist here mainly of a ton of photos.

West Coast National Park Revisited

Our first stop in WCNP just wetted our appetite to go back and explore it more. It is the beginning of flower season right now, so we chose to make a day of it. Well, TMLL graciously agreed to lower himself to the botanical level and humour me. Unfortunately it had been really raining in Cape Town, so we wondered if we should go, given the forecast. We were glad that we went. Yes, even TMLL admitted that it was well worth the trip.
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It was very sunny and lovely once we got to the park. We made our way along the west arm of the park towards the Postberg section, which is only open to the public from August to September each year, when the flowers are blooming.
Our first stop was Kraalbaai where there are rental houseboats, a beautiful beach and braai facilities.
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ImageThe sand beach was lovely and would make a great place to visit again. The water is a gorgeous turquoise colour and you can see many patterns in the sand, shifting due to wind and waves. Lesser Flamingos stood in the shallows.
A curious ostrich watched us drive on the road, and we saw bontebok. The tarred road became gravel and we entered the restricted area of Postberg. There was a large pasture where a ton (100+) eland enjoyed some fine eating. We also saw more bontebok and great numbers of cape francolins.
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Leopard tortoises were everywhere and we really had to watch where we were driving, for fear of crushing them. One went tearing across the road…’tortoise tearing’…and collapsed in an exhausted heap at the other side. They were amusing to watch. Many were dining on the delicate flowers – don’t they know this is a National Park!
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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:58 am 
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The eland were around in huge numbers, snoozin in the fields of flowers and sampling a few as well.
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Also enjoying the sunshine were other birds including this Cape Bulbul who was having the darndest time scratching an itch. Note the contortion of the foot trying to itch its back in the second photo!
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A bokmakieri was having a lovely whistle:
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A sacred ibis was wandering and tasting as well.
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In Plakiesbaai we hiked on the ocean rocks to the crashing surf. There was a seal playing in the waves. Flowers of every hue were on the hillside, especially areas protected from the wind. Gulls were bored..ha..here is one mid yawn.
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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 06, 2010 1:24 pm 
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As I said, flowers of every hue were on the hillside, especially areas protected from the wind. I believe the 3rd photo is of a little parasitic plant...name???
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Here are some scenes from Plakiesbaai- flowers/then Kelp gulls followed by Hartlaub's gull:
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Back out in the veld, several impala were running excitedly for some unknown reason and it caused the ostrich and guinea fowl to be in a flap (more so than normal) and the bontebok even rose from their relaxed state.
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Somehow we had the urge to sing something from the 'Sound of Music', but that would not have been so pleasant and just would have caused more upset!!
Tortoises merrily sampled the salad offerings, oblivious to whatever the disturbance was, or might have been.
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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2010 10:10 am 
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Micetta...oh yes, that tortoise was ripping up the gravel road with its speed, relative to other tortoises. It quite coincidentally did pause just after the road, and looked like it was trying to rest after such an ordeal. Ha.

The road took you up into the hills, where the flowers were blooming in vast numbers.
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A few critters were enjoying the views (capped wheatear and egrets) and the flavours (yet another tortoise and evidence of mole rat activity).
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The Uitkyk picnic area at the top of the hill had a nice circular walk, highlighting all sides of this peninsula. You could look north to the Saldanga Bay and Marcus Island, east across the lagoon to the town of Langebaan and south, back into the park as you walked on the circular trail.
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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 08, 2010 9:42 am 
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Back to the Uitkyk picnic area trail: to the west was a hilltop with the most bizarre rock formations. One of the rocks looked like a giant hand..perhaps the area gardener?
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As we were admiring the hand, a gangly black headed heron appeared in the fynbos- the wind blowing it's 'pony tail' to one side.
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Then it decided to take off, affording us a lovely view past the hand and landing a short distance away. TMLL captured it well!
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To the northeast was Shaapen Island and you could see the town of Langebaan on the mainland across the Langebaan Lagoon. The Lagoon (reaching south) was lovely, revealing a myriad of colours across its convoluted sandy base.
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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:51 pm 
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So back to the Lagoon...it was so beautiful with all the turquoise shadings in the water.
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Along the hike we spotted many flowers- some familiar like the iris, and others not familiar like the ericas.
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There were plants in patches of different colours, and occasionally just solitary examples.
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Sometimes there were just very different plants, that would some day reveal what they were, but not today...
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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 11:27 am 
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All these wonderful flowers were providing homes and sustenance for a myriad of insects:
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And the mandatory tortoises were hilarious trying to avoid detection...this one saw me, turned and faced away, just like a child playing hide and seek. 'I can't see you...so you can't see me'. I stood and watched and it eventually backed out, with assistance from its guard fly, who had its back. Too cute.
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Back to the flowers...love the Cotula turbinata (button weed) with their mini-skirt of petals.
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and the colour of these orange flowers was intense.
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Brief interlude here for another chorus of 'the hills are alive'..
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Down the hillside, there was a flurry of mammals…wildebeest, springbok, bontebok with young…most of these animals were quite shy, as this area is not used too much traffic. Sorry these are a touch blurry.
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We enjoyed seeing some new (to us) birds…black harrier, white backed mousebird, yellow-rumped widow, and a black stork.

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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 13, 2010 12:28 pm 
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Here is a final shot of some of the Postberg area flowers:
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As we drove back via Tsaarbank beach, the clouds became more ominous and we thought our timing was very good.
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Seems even the birds knew it was time to leave...
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We left a bunch of little birds bathing in a puddle at the Atlantic Viewpoint...seems only those with white eyes were invited to the party...ha (cape bulbuls and cape white eyes).
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Wrong...here is a party crasher...yellow canary...
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Word got out via the starling hotline that a storm was coming...
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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:08 am 
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Thanks Kamadejo...you are such a loyal reader...thanks again for your kind comments...last episode of this trip coming up...


We headed back towards Abrahamskraal, where there was a bird hide. (and laughed at the sign...someone at SanParks needs a proof reader!!!- no load music?)
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It was actually a people hide today. We were in it when the heavens opened and it just poured. We watched the birds try to seek shelter, and a few weavers chose to join us inside, in the dryness of the hide!
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When the bulk of the rain passed we went to the Geelbek restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful meal, accompanied occasionally by the odd brazen dicky bird sitting on the backs of chairs looking for crumbs (or packets of sugar)! It was actually a great place to get some bird photos...although there were occasional deposits from on high- so we ate quickly!! ( thieving yellow rumped widow and weaver)
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We then walked out to the hides to see what was around. Flamingos were closer in to shore than the last time.
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A black headed heron was being attacked by some raptor...
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TMLL did admit that his day was well worth it…he was even pleased when I told him about the flower safari I had booked for later that week! HA!
Total animal count for today:
Tortoises- 28
Impala-4
Springbok- 25
Bontebok- 21
Francolins-37
Eland- 100+
Zebra- 4
Ostrich- 19
Wildbeest- 29
Rodents scurrying across the road-3
Other Flitty Birds…lots
Next up...Cape Agulhas

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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11

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