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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2010 9:07 am 
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So TMLL loved the flower safari, as did I, at the Grootbos Nature Reserve near De Kelders. We went from the sublime to the ridiculous in terms of both activity and weather. Our flower safari was done on a luxuriously calm sunny day, and next up was great white shark diving in 3m swells with lashing rains and 75km winds beside the Dyer Island Nature Reserve. My comments were colourful for this adventure...ha.
Having seen the full gamut of weather that this area could offer, the calm sunny conditions returned for our drive to Cape Agulhas National Park. If you are already on the coast, there is no connection directly to Cape Agulhas, so you must drive inland to start. This drive brought us to the beautiful little town of Elim. It really was picturesque. Funnily enough, it is also a wine region (listening for laughter and shock from our relatives and friends). We happened upon this quite by accident and were really pleased to have found it.
We found lots of fields of Pink Ice Protea along the way...and then the area got very much like home! (minus the sheep on the right)
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Finally we arrived at the paved road of the R319, which lead us to Struisbaai and eventually to Cape Agulhas National Park. This park is relatively new and has no facilities, so there is no charge to enter.
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We did have to note that we christened both the male and female lavatories at this southern most reach of Africa. Why that was necessary, I am not sure….but we did it because they were there.
Then we made our way to the lighthouse, which stands monumentally before you. This photo is from the ocean side looking back.
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We had a tour through the lighthouse museum, which had some interesting facts and tidbits about the area and lighthouses in general. Then tackled the climb.
It is there, we must climb it…or not…depending on your comfort level with heights. HA…..as has been well documented already…TMLL has no great love for heights. He is always willing to give it a go, and was brave enough to make it up the first ladder, but then opted to survey the southernmost reaches of the continent from the ground level. I was to take a more lofty approach.
I must say that I was pleased TMLL attempted the ascent and then was really pleased he broke off his ascent, cause there is no way in h**l, he would have made it up the final ladder. The lighthouse has 3 sturdy ladders which sharply ascend to the next level, but the final challenge is exactly that. Here is a sturdy ladder...
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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2010 12:06 pm 
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The final ladder was exceptionally steep (vertigionous views, claimed one travel book!), and each wooden rung creaked and groaned when you stepped on them, with the added bonus of swaying under your weight as you climbed. Makes me sound quite hefty, but I'm not. Here is a somewhat brave view looking back down the hole you have to get through at the top.
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A challenge was a great term. There was a couple already out of the top when I emerged and I was grateful that they were there.
I took a few photos of the environs, and then I was soooo grateful that the husband allowed me to descend before he did from that upper level.
Going counterclockwise, here are views to the west -the keepers house, Cape Agulhas NP on left and town on the right:
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view towards Cape Agulhas 1 km to the right and an agraphobic TMLL safely on the ground:
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view south of the lighthouse to the Indian Ocean:
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view to the east- the town of Agulhas and a car at the entrance to the park by the road roundabout:
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Since I was last in, I had to close the outer lighthouse door...then down I went. I whipped around at the base, to snap a photo of the man descending, and the blurriness is a result of both my thumping heart and nervous relief!
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It was certainly worth the effort to ascend to the top, if you were so able.

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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 1:37 pm 
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Micetta- are you sure Kirstenbosch is SanParks...I know it is SANBI...I will check on this....thanks.(glad you liked the bats

The lighthouse is actually about a km from the actual end of Africa, which we found a bit odd...we wondered why it wasn't built closer to the actual area...or at least directly north of it.
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We drove for a bit of the way and then parked where other cars were and walked in.
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SanParks had provided lots of lovely seating for you to stop and enjoy the views. There were also several informative signs along the way.
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We arrived at the plaque denoting the significant spot, took our required photos, avoided the flow of tourists doing likewise and left.
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Next…well we did stop to dip our extremities both in the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. This little beastie was guarding the Indian Ocean.
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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 21, 2010 10:00 am 
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So back to a small 'flower hour' as the vegetation hadn't quite hit its stride in Cape Agulhas, when we were there. It had potential though...
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Love this little parasitic plant...Hyobanche sanguinea...scarlet broomrape...not the nicest of names...pardon the slight blurry bonus.
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Unfortunately we didn't have more time to explore this park..perhaps some time in the future.
Here are a few parting shots looking back to the Cape...
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So we have now reached a gap in our National Park travels...with the possible exception of another West Coast day trip/ and whether or not Kirstenbosch is allowed...the next scheduled National Park will be Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in November.
Thanks so much for all your comments and for reading along...hope you have enjoyed...cause we certainly have!

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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 12:03 pm 
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West Coast National Park Flower Finale- Sept 26/10
Flower season was drawing to a close and the Postberg section of West Coast National Park would once again be closed to the public until August of 2011, so we opted to have one last look at the changing floral landscape.
We drove north to the park, meandering off the direct route to visit a winery. Unfortunately there was some false advertising, since after our extended bypass to get there, we found the place closed. We re-checked the signs and it was supposed to be open. Was this a sign of our day to come? Hmmmm… oh well we were able to find a few pretty posies and a black harrier swooped in looking for a meal, along the way, so it wasn’t a total waste of time. The white hyacinths were particularly attractive (we also saw these in the park).
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It was nice to see the familiar gate of WCNP, and be able to doff the seat belt for some slow-paced serious observing. The dunes were ever-present and now more covered in vegetation. We were quite surprised that the abundance of flowers seen on our last visit had diminished significantly. Those tortoises must have been hungry! Gone were the vast fields of orange and pink.
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Our first creature observed was a teeny striped mouse zipping across the road. This sighting was followed by a very large ostrich with enormously long legs. No more photos of them…we are so done ostrich. HA! Funny how some creatures have become of less interest with familiarity. Not long ago they were eagerly admired and photos snapped at a great rate. Now we are just like locals - ho hum (ha- right)…next…although I haven’t started hammering on the car horn like taxi drivers yet.
Closer to Postberg there were some fields of yellow, but certainly far less than before.
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The things we did find in abundance were millipedes and caterpillars. Small little super hairy ones or naked wiggly things…were these precursors to snakes?? Ha-foreshadowing. We had a somewhat erratic drive trying to avoid squishing them both, as their numbers had seriously exploded in the park. We figured most of the hairy caterpillars had to be fairly toxic, because it seemed that all the birds were leaving them alone.
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They were also pretty sizeable, as is evident when compared to my finger!
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Canadian prairies...but prepping for some SA trips....
KTF Hooked on KTP- 2008
KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 11:24 am 
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The lagoon waters were very low, exposing large sand bars, and changing the water colour from our last visit.
We entered the Postberg area, and saw the interesting pile of rocks without as many flowers as previously seen.
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I must admit that I 'tentatively' looked for Eland where we had seen them the last time, but they were not there. I say tentatively, since it was to cost us some finances for finding them. We had pledged to donated 10R for every Eland we saw…and there were around 100+ the last time. It is good that you can specify where the donations should be spent, and we hope that WCNP put it to good use.
There were more bontebok enjoying the hillside, and still lots of young staying close to their parents (of course not in this photo..ha).
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Many hikers and cyclists were using the park today. Everyone was getting in their last visit for the year, before the animals were left to their peace and quiet.
Plakiesbaai was really limited in its flower populations, and there were fewer tortoises; probably a direct connection there. The seas were calmer and there was better visibility to the far shore.
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Resident gulls were enjoying a synchronized poop-fest while roosting on the whale signs.
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Snails were having a party on the top of a post.
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A very pretty peaceful area.

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Canadian prairies...but prepping for some SA trips....
KTF Hooked on KTP- 2008
KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:39 am 
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Despite the downward quantity of flowers, those which were found were quality. A small little Painted Petal (Lapeirousia fabricii) was hiding by some rocks on the hill.
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Onward up the hill we drove towards the Uitkyk picnic site and hike. We saw a lovely green cuckoo, but it eluded our cameras. As we climbed the hill, the numbers of tortoises increased as well. Some are just so cute...in a reptilian way.
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In fact, I admit to breaking a park rule and getting out of the car to rescue a tortoise (well there were lots of hikers, so it wasn’t really a danger issue- yes, I battled with leaving it to nature’s way, but it was too little and nature’s way could deal with it after my minor interference). The poor thing was upside down, little stumpy legs flailing about in the middle of the road. How it got there, we have no idea. It was not otherwise injured, so wasn’t dinged by a car, but somehow it ended up upside down on its shell, and was not likely to be able to right itself. We watched for a brief time and then, being careful to watch for lions…ha…I exited and ended its frustrated efforts. I escorted the little one to the grass at the roadside, and it thanked me by retreating into its shell and defecating on me. Nice. You’re welcome-my good deed for the day.
Here is a small quiz…what is the first photo?
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Wrong….not a tortoise shell…it is a mobile pith helmut! (Cranes are giraffes; dinner plates are guinea fowl; and pith helmuts are tortoises …welcome to my world…too much wine. (Actually not…that was closed.))
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There was much evidence of pith helmut lovin as well…lots of little couples trundling around together. Like all the big billboard signs stated on the way up…she wanted to be ‘romantic at Laguna Mall’ (have you ever thought of going to the mall as being romantic??) and he had loving on his mind!
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The numbers of tortoises vastly increased as we got higher, as did the flower numbers, but of different colours from our last visit.
A photogenic fiscal shrike posed for the obligatory shots. Then it flew away, but kindly returned so it could get its other side taken…very cooperative.
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to be continued...

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Canadian prairies...but prepping for some SA trips....
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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:07 am 
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You had to be very careful driving as tortoises were leapin' around (ha) and crossing the road was a favoured past time.
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Views from the Uitkyk lookout were lovely and show the much reduced water levels in the lagoon. This set of photos goes from south counterclockwise to the north.
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The Uitkyk hike was nice, and we found new flowers (geranium, mystery seed pod and purple vygie) and a couple new creatures too!
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One creature in particular I didn’t really want to see. In fact it cost San Parks another donation. We (I) had promised 500R to see no snakes in any National Park. Well that is now blown. Near the end of the hike, I emitted a loud operatic warble when a small serpent quickly wiggled away from the pathway, as I was about to step. OK I was now on full alert.
I was calmed a bit by the sight of ...oops...connection fading...

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Canadian prairies...but prepping for some SA trips....
KTF Hooked on KTP- 2008
KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:01 pm 
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Merry Thanksgiving Canada!!
I was calmed a bit by the sight of the teeniest tortoise imaginable. My finger by comparison shows just how tiny and cute this was; roughly the size of a small egg- even some of the caterpillars were larger.
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We also found a tortoise with very different markings on its shell.
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The bushes were simply alive with caterpillars. Odd how nothing was trying to eat them. When you had 20 of those furry things on a small bush, some of the branches were overwhelmed.
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However there were a few flowers that escaped their gnawing ways...
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This last flower was apparently only ever found in the Saldanha Bay ecosystem...so that was a neat find.
As is our custom when going to WCNP, the afternoon rains were threatening and created some lovely colours and cloud action. These were accompanied by some hefty winds which scattered the vegetation in all directions. Squalls of rain arrived from the west, interspersed with sunny periods.
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Some bontebok and wildebeest and a few very brown zebra munched away despite the inclement weather...
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more tomorrow....

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Canadian prairies...but prepping for some SA trips....
KTF Hooked on KTP- 2008
KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 12, 2010 9:21 am 
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Back to the drizzly stuff:
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On our way down the hill, there were some cars stopped…lions? HA! No…a small puff adder…sigh. Someone in another car got out in bare feet to get photos…can’t believe anyone would do that intentionally…I am not familiar with this snake, other than to know that it is a slow moving but deadly variety.
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Still why would you walk in bare feet to see this poisonous snake…and for that matter why would you drive with bare feet? The snake was not too impressed with its participation in the photo session, and raised its head somewhat and continued to approach the photographer, then meander into the embankment.
Image Interesting that unlike the pattern of snake movement we were familiar with, when they wind in an s pattern…it moved its scales in an undulating pattern and therefore went straight like a giant deadly millipede. See…they were warnings of what was to come!!
Further down the road, we found the Eland…once I had counted 40, TMLL reminded me that this was cutting into the wine fund…so my vision got a little blurry and I couldn’t assuredly confirm that those creatures up the hill were in fact genuine Eland….ok…so there were at least 10 more as we drove out. A donation will be sent to San Parks today for 500R.
There were also more wildebeest, more bontebok, and springbok. We also found zebra, and they looked remarkably brown along their backs- or was this just the rain's effect. Does this mean they were older?
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We left the Postberg area…having seen some different things this time. Just as we were rounding a corner, there was another larger puff adder on the side. It did not appear injured, but unlike the last one, was not moving much. No one was there except us to takes its photo…perhaps it was waiting for more of an audience. It was just on the sand embankment by the road. Didn’t seem to mind us taking some photos…they are nicely patterned.
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If only they wore bells, or some flashing light to let you know they were there, so you could avoid them.
Speaking of flashing lights...we were flashed shortly after this...not sure if this was in recognition of our yellow ribbon, or the fact that there was a snake on the road...or just that we were driving erratically.
Here comes the approaching wall of water...always on the way to Abrahamskraal!
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more tomorrow...

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Canadian prairies...but prepping for some SA trips....
KTF Hooked on KTP- 2008
KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:25 am 
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JJ- darn, sorry it wasn't you..and glad too, cause I would have been sorry we hadn't met...so it must have been our haphazard driving...ha!!!
Back to some fleurs...
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At the Atlantic viewpoint it began to rain...
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…again…so we passed on the Abrahamskraal hide, and went straight to the Geelbek restaurant for another great meal. This time we were seated inside, so there were no thieving birds…although we watched multiple ones fly down the hallway within the building.
After lunch we drove up the east road of WCNP. We had never been this way before. there were far more flowers up this side of the park and surprisingly fewer tortoises- maybe they were working their way around! There were fields of purple or yellow and orange in the distance.
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We spotted a marsh harrier on the hunt for lunch..sorry about the poor lighting..was just that kind of day...
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The Seeberg Lookout had been the rock monolith we had frequently photographed from the other side of the lagoon.
Here is a view north from the lookout towards Langebaan.
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This photo looks back (northwest) toward the Uitkyk hike on the north (righthand) hill.
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An abandoned building with very thick walls braved the winds howling off the lagoon. Inside we noted that an owl had left a sizeable mortuary of small mammal bones in its cast pellets.
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We took some photos in between rain squalls, and then drove further north to the Seeberg bird hide.
A view southeast of the house.
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The southwest view back towards Geelbek at the end of the lagoon.
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more tomorrow...

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KTF Hooked on KTP- 2008
KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2010 9:09 am 
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AWWW Shi...good news...when we head out to do bat work next week...we are doing some in Tsitsitkamma...so I can post that too!!

On our way into the hide, we found great fields of lavender flowers and also yellow flowers (stinkweed- and they are far too pretty to deserve such a name).
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We desperately tried to photographically capture 3 Karoo bush rats who speedily zipped back and forth across the road, foraging on succulent plants. Two of them were too fast…but we did finally see a different species of rodent…I think a striped mouse…but it seemed bigger than a mouse should be. It actually looked like a small chipmunk (North American reference). If it had only chosen to eat that one piece of grass in front of its face...sigh...but I love the camo look among the posies...
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It was a nice walk to the bird hide from the parking area…nope wasn’t thinking about snakes at all, as we walked across the marshy area on the narrow path. Thankfully there were lots of new flowers to distract me (Ortholobium pea, drumsticks and ice plant).
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At the hide we looked across the lagoon to Postberg...
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We had some close encounters with flamingos.
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oops...page is bouncing...more another time...draaaaaaagggg

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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:42 am 
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So more time with flamingos- sometimes with friends, another time looking like plastic lawn ornaments, and another time tucked in like some knobby kneed statues, and not really looking like birds.
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Several francolins (spurwings as they are now known) having a serious tiff. "What did you call my mother??? She was a chicken..." Ooh.....'fowl' confrontation. The intermittent rain showers continued.
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A few parting flowers...slime lily and grass lily blowin in the wind (I call this action, not blurry...ahem)...
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Farewell Postberg...rest well till next August.
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The Langebaan exit is not far from the bird hide…so our visit ended again without our yellow ribbon attracting the attention of any other SanPark’s forumites. sigh.
So a different experience again at WCNP, but definitely still enjoyable in a lovely part of the world.
The End(s)(grysbok)- as we left the park
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Next month…KTP…so excited!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 3:44 pm 
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Thanks so much Micetta, anne-marie, Pumbaa, onewithnature, MM and Nkumbe...your comments are very encouraging and appreciated.

Micetta...Tsitsitkamma is a few days away...and we are going to Harkerville as well...all part of SanParks, so I will take lots of photos. Then a few days in between trips to greet our first visitor to South Africa...so excited to see my friend. Then she and I are off north to KTP, while TMLL heads back for a bit of refreshing climes and meetings...snicker. So excited to go north. Poor TMLL, would rather come north with us.

anne-marie...you are most welcome for this. So glad you are enjoying it. We are having a great time- so lucky.

Pumbaa...you are so welcome as well. Thanks for being such a regular reader!!

onewithnature- glad you have enjoyed the photos. I have actually identified all the flowers to species where I could for myself...I just didn't post those details. Trust me, my reference books are now thoroughly curled from their use.

MM- ha...figured you would enjoy that little mousey...it was a cutie.

Nkumbe... glad you are enjoying... thank you for reading along.

Here is a parting shot from the park (Ornithogalum thyrsoides- Chincherinchee hyacinth)..
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I shall return to write more at the end of November...KTF

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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 9:02 am 
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OK...teaser photos...
Addo:
ellie family concentrating hard on grass-
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'painted warthog' from wallowing in red mud-
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Tsitsikamma:
moody mist and wild waters-
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Rhinolophus capensis- horseshoe bat..check out the nose leaf...
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Harkerville:
rugged coastline...and guess where the caves are...yup, waaaay down on the beach...and the elevator is where?
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noted a lot of flowers on the panting way up!!
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Be back to fill in some stories in a couple of weeks...take care...KTF

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