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 Post subject: kesheshe Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present? Dec 2010
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:55 pm 
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Location: Pretoria
Hello me again – we made it back safely from KNP after 8 magical days in the park.

Trip Preparation

The booking for the trip took place only a few days before departure as it was a last minute decision to go and spend some time in KNP. As some of you will know we have travelled to many destinations during 2010 and do not normally go in summer but we decided to give KNP a go.

The trip would be as follows:

• Olifants – 2 nights
• Shingwedzi – 3 nights
• Satara – 1 night
• Berg En Dal – 2 nights

The focus of the trip would be to improve our birding as we figured mammals would be difficult to spot. SO had a new pair of binoculars that she was keen to try out for birding. We managed to get all the camera equipment serviced and cleaned after our long trip and received them all back in perfect condition a few days before departure.

Day 1 – 16th December 2010 – Pretoria to Olifants

We departed from Pretoria at 5am and arrived at the Malelane gate at 9.30. The entry process went very smoothly as normal. We have not been to KNP in summer for a number of years and did not really know what to expect. The bush was very green and thick therefore the decision to focus on improving our birding appeared to be a good one.

It was a 205km drive in the park from the gate to camp which took 7 hours at an average speed of 29kph. We arrived at Olifants at 4.30pm and after checking in and unpacking we decided that we would not go on an afternoon drive as it had been a long day in the van.

I will provide a list of our sightings at the end of the report.

Plant

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Pied Kingfisher

This kingfisher feeds mainly on fish. It usually hunts by hovering over the water to detect prey and diving vertically down bill-first to capture fish. When not foraging, they have a straight rapid flight and have been observed flying at nearly 32 mph. The breeding season is February to April. Its nest is a hole excavated in a vertical mud bank about five feet above water. The nest tunnel is 4 to 5 feet deep and ends in a chamber. Several birds may nest in the same vicinity. The usual clutch is 3-6 white eggs. The pied kingfisher sometimes reproduces co-operatively, with young non-breeding birds from earlier brood assisting parents or even unrelated older birds.

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Hammerkop

Hamerkops feed during the day, often taking a break at noon to roost. They normally feed alone or in pairs. The food is typical of long-legged wading birds, and the most important is amphibians. They also eat fish, shrimp, insects and rodents. They walk in shallow water looking for prey, possibly raking their feet on the bottom or suddenly opening their wings to flush prey out of hiding. They may also take prey while they fly, particularly tadpoles.
One unusual feature is that up to ten birds join in "ceremonies" in which they run circles around each other, all calling loudly, raising their crests, fluttering their wings. Another is "false mounting", in which one bird stands on top of another and appears to mount it, but they may not be mates and do not copulate. The strangest aspect of Hamerkop behaviour is the huge nest, sometimes more than 1.5 m across, comprising perhaps 10,000 sticks and strong enough to support a man's weight. The birds decorate the outside with any bright-coloured objects they can find. When possible, they build the nest in the fork of a tree, often over water, but if necessary they build on a bank, a cliff, a human-built wall or dam, or on the ground. A pair starts by making a platform of sticks held together with mud, and then builds walls and a domed roof. A mud-plastered entrance 13 to 18 cm wide in the bottom leads through a tunnel up to 60 cm long to a nesting chamber big enough for the parents and young.

These birds are compulsive nest builders, constructing 3 to 5 nests per year whether they are breeding or not. Barn Owls and eagle owls may force them out and take over the nests, but when the owls leave, the Hammerkop may reuse the nests. At the finished nest, a pair gives displays similar to those of the group ceremonies and mates, often on top of the nest. The clutch consists of 3 to 7 eggs that start white but soon become stained. Both sexes incubate for 28 to 30 days. Both feed the young, often leaving them alone for long times; this unusual habit for wading birds may be made possible by the thick nest walls. The young hatch covered with gray down. By 17 days after hatching, their head and crest plumage is developed, and in a month, their body plumage. They leave the nest at 44 to 50 days but roost in it at night until about two months after hatching.

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Saddle Billed Stork

One to two eggs are laid at a time. The incubation period is 30 to 35 days. The mating pair takes turns taking care of the young birds until they are fledged - about 70 to 100 days after hatching. Food: Grasshoppers, frogs, fish, crabs, lizards, and young birds. They are silent except for bill-clattering at the nest. Like most storks, these fly with the neck outstretched, not retracted like a heron; in flight, the large heavy bill is kept drooping somewhat below belly height, giving these birds a very unusual appearance to those who see them for the first time.

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Steenbok

Steenbok are petite antelope, with long legs and an upright stance. The coat is a light golden-brown colour, although there is some variation among individuals with some being quite reddish and others grayer. The undersides are white. Steenbok have few distinctive markings: the large eyes are ringed by a fine circle of white hairs, and there is a slender black triangle which starts at the nose and tapers upwards. The ears are extremely large. The horns, found only in males, are straight, sharp, and very upright. They will grow 7-19 cm long.

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Juvenile Bateleur

It nests in trees, laying a single egg which is incubated by the female for 42 to 43 days, with a further 90 to 125 days until fledging. Bateleur pair for life, and will use the same nest for a number of years. Unpaired birds, presumably from a previous clutch, will sometimes help at the nest. The Bateleur is a colourful species with a very short tail (ecaudatus is Latin for tailless) which makes it unmistakable in flight. The adult male is 60 to 75 cm (24 to 30 in) long with a 175 cm (5.75 ft) wingspan. He has black plumage except for the chestnut mantle and tail, grey shoulders, and red facial skin, bill and legs.

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Warthog

Warthogs are adaptable and are able to go long periods without water, as much as several months in the dry season. When water is available, warthogs will seek it and often submerge to cool down. They will also wallow in mud for the same purpose—and to gain relief from insects. Birds also aid these hogs in their battle with insects; oxpeckers and other species sometimes ride along on their warthog hosts, feeding on the tiny creatures invading their hides. These African hogs often utilize empty dens created by aardvarks. Rather than fight, they often choose flight, and search for such a den to use as a hidey-hole. They typically back in, using their tusks to effectively guard the entrance.

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After unpacking we sat out on the patio with some wine and started to cook dinner. The savoury mince and wild rice was easy and we were all sorted up and ready for bed by 8pm.

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2011 September KTP - 17 days

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 Post subject: Re: Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present?
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2011 8:27 am 
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anne-marie – yes it seems like we did a lot of travelling this year – in thinking about it yes we had a good year.

Grantmissy – thanks for the nice comments

john n poppy – no it did not change my idea that winter is best. I have already started planning winter trip. When and where in august are you going as it would be nice to meet again and this time spend more quality time.

Lowveldboy, Crested Barbet – you are so right yet another TR. Seems that is all i have been doing for the last 6-8 months. Not complaining – hope you enjoy.

Pumbaa – hehe yes there was a few we did not get to but then 2011 provide many opportunities to rectify that. Hope to have all the parks completed by end 2011.

Day 2 – 17th December 2010 – Olifants

We got up nice and early at 3h45 to enable us to have our first morning coffee on the patio at the same time packing the picnic basket for the mornings drive. It was still dark when we drove through the gate at 4.32am. The sun started to appear about 4.50am which meant we used the spot light for only about the first 20 minutes.

We had not stayed at Olifants for a good few years and were both excited to have the opportunity to explore the roads in good early morning viewing conditions.

The morning drive was 160km and 7 hours at an average speed of 22kph arriving back at camp just after 11.30am. We decided to have lunch at Olifants restaurant as the service and food on the last trip were good. We were not disappointed again the service and food were good – we had pizza and milkshakes.

Black Backed Jackal Pups

Jackals live singly or in pairs, but are sometimes found in loose packs of related individuals. They are among the few mammalian species in which the male and female mate for life. Mated pairs are territorial, and both the female and male mark and defend the boundaries of their territory. Sometimes pups will stay with their parents and help raise their younger siblings. Most pup deaths occur during the first 14 weeks of life, so the presence of helpers increases the survival rate. Family or pack members communicate with each other by a screaming yell and yapping, or a siren-like howl when a kill is located.

Litters number up to six but usually average two to four. It takes about 10 days for the infants' eyes to open, and for the first few weeks of life, they remain in the thickets or holes where they were born. At about 3 weeks, they begin to spend time outside playing with their litter-mates. At first the games are clumsy attempts at wrestling, pawing and biting. As they become more coordinated, they ambush and pounce, play tug of war and chase each other. The mother changes den sites about every two weeks, so the young are less likely to be found by predators.
The pups are suckled and fed regurgitated food until they are about 2 months. By 3 months, they no longer use the den but start to follow their parents, slowly learning the territory and observing hunting behaviour. By 6 months, they are hunting on their own. Their parents, however, continue to feed, groom and play with them.

Sometimes pups stay with their parents and help raise their younger brothers and sisters. At times they bring back food to their younger siblings or babysit them while the parents hunt for food. Most pup deaths occur during the first 14 weeks of life, so the presence of helpers increases the survival rate.

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 Post subject: Re: Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present?
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:01 am 
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Oddesy – thank you for the nice comments

anne-marie – they are so cute and we got to spend a long time with them

Sylvia.C – the mother did hide them well. There were 3 pups but these 2 were just to curious which was good news for us.

Kamadejo - yes another TR - I promise this one will not be a long one

Pumbaa - We got very lucky and saw 2 sets of BBJ pups during the trip.

Petraj - only a pleasure to share

Elsa - Yes KNP gave us fantastic Xmas presents


Day 2 – 17th December 2010 – Olifants (Continued)

Wattled Starling

The Wattled Starling is 21 cm long, with a short tail and pointed wings. It has mainly grey plumage except for a white rump, and black flight feathers and tail. The breeding male has a white shoulder patch and a distinctive head pattern, with unfeathered yellow skin, and black forehead and throat wattles. The extent to which these seasonal features develop increases with the age of the bird, and some old females may show a weaker version of this plumage. The non-breeding male has a feathered head except for a small yellow patch behind the eye. There are no wattles, but there is a black moustachial stripe. The white shoulder patch is much reduced. The female and juvenile plumages are similar to the non-breeding male, but the flight feathers and tail are brown. The black flight and tail feathers and white rump make this species unmistakable in flight. It always nests in trees or bushes, including acacias and eucalyptus at between 1 and 10 m above the ground. The globular nest is made from twigs and lined with grass or feathers. The two to five, usually three or four, eggs are pale blue, immaculate or with some brown spots, and are laid before the dome of the nest is completed. Both sexes build the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the young. The eggs hatch after 11 days, and the chicks leave the nest in another 13–16 days. They cannot fly, and suffer heavy predation from large birds of prey. Breeding is linked to an abundant insect supply, and colonies will be abandoned, even with chicks in the nest, if, for example, locust swarms are destroyed by control measures.

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Swainsons francolin

It is not found in dense woodland or forested areas. It is usually seen singly or small parties. This francolin runs quickly when disturbed, and flies on whirring wings when flushed. It eats seeds, berries, shoots, bulbs, insects and molluscs. The call is a very loud and harsh and consists of 7 or 8 crowing sounds, dropping in pitch and volume towards the end: krrwoaa, krraa, kraaa, krraa.... This species breeds in the summer months. The nest is a hollow in the ground, which is lined with dry grass. It is hidden in the grass or a thicket.

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Snail

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Red Backed Shrike

The Red backed shrike is spread almost al around Europe except for the Scandinavia, Great Britain and southern parts of Spain. Its habitat is an open country. These insectivorous birds migrate each autumn down to southern parts of Africa, where they find enough of food. Lanius collurio is 18cm in size (7 inches). Its crown is light grey. There is a black stripe going from the bill through the eyes. The throat is whitish, under-parts are pinkish. The back and the wings are light brown. The hens have a brownish area at the front of the crown and grey area behind. Their wings are dark brown.

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Wildebeest

Wildebeest need to drink water at least every two days, so they must live near a reliable freshwater source. When they migrate to open woodlands to feed in May, upwards of more than a million wildebeest are joined by other animals such as zebras. Eighty percent of calves (up to half a million) are born within a two to three week period at the start of the rainy season, which improves their chances of surviving against predators. Newborn calves can stand and walk in less than seven minutes after being born, and they can keep up with their mothers within two days. The head of the wildebeest is large and box-like. Both males and females have curving horns, which are close together at the base, but curve outward, inward and slightly backward. The body looks disproportionate, as the front end is heavily built, the hindquarters slender and the legs spindly. The wildebeest is gray with darker vertical stripes that look almost black from a distance. This species has a dark name and a long tail. Newborns are a yellowish-brown, but change to adult colour at about 2 months.

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Dung Beetle

Length: 3 to 50 millimetres long. Life Span: Up to 3 years. Babies: Eggs are deposited in balls of dung. Some species of dung beetles watch over the ball of dung while waiting for the young beetles to emerge. The dung beetle larvae live and feed off the dung ball. Food: Dung, mushrooms, decaying matter such as leaves and fruit. Dung beetles do not "eat" the dung, but use their mouths to suck the juice from the undigested plant material in the manure.

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 Post subject: Re: Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present?
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 6:08 pm 
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Day 2 – 17th December 2010 – Olifants (Continued)

Water Buck

Although males do compete for and hold territories, the waterbuck is generally a quiet, sedentary animal. Like some other antelopes, the male does not mark his territory with dung or urine, as his presence and smell are apparently sufficient. He tries to retain females that wander into his area, but is seldom successful for long, since the females have large home ranges and, in herds of five to 25, are constantly crossing in and out of male’s territories. Waterbucks do not migrate or move great distances, so territories are usually held year round.

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Wild Dog

A nuclear pack of about six dogs usually consists of one dominant breeding pair and several non breeding adult male helpers. Occasionally another female in the pack forms a subordinate breeding pair with one of the other males. A breeding female gives birth about once a year, with litters averaging about 10 pups, thought as many as 19 have been recorded. They pups are born in a shelter of thick bush or grass, or in a hole. Usually twice as many males are born. Unlike many other species, the female offspring leave the natal group when they reach maturity, not the males. The hunting members of the pack return to the den where they regurgitate meat for the nursing female and pups. Although litters are very large, very few pups survive. Sometimes the dens are flooded, or the pups die from exposure or disease. When pack numbers are reduced, hunting is not as efficient and adults may not bring back sufficient food for the pups. The entire pack is involved in the welfare of the pups; both males and females babysit the young and provide food for them.

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Chacma Baboon

Are omnivores, they eat mainly fruit, but also eat flowers, leaves, roots, tubers, mushrooms, grasses, shoots, seeds, buds, small vertebrates and invertebrates. Females reach adulthood at five years old, and males a year or two later. Gestation period is six months. Generally a female will reproduce once every 2 years. Grow up to 120 centimetres tall and up to 40 kilograms. Live for up to 30 years.

Chacmas usually live in social groups composed of multiple adult males, adult females, and their offspring. Occasionally, however, very small groups form that include only a single adult male and several adult females. Chacma troops are characterized by a dominance hierarchy. Female ranking within the troop is inherited through the mother and remains quite fixed, while male ranking is often in flux, especially when the dominant male is replaced. Chacmas are unusual among baboons in that neither males nor females form strong relationships with members of the same sex. Instead, the strongest social bonds are often between unrelated adult males and females. Infanticide is also common compared to other baboon’s species, as newly dominant males will often attempt to kill young baboons sired by the previously dominant male. Baboon troops possess complex group behaviour and communicate by means of body attitudes, facial expressions, vocalisations and touch.

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Flower (id help please)

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 Post subject: Re: Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present?
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:31 pm 
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:hmz: flowers... Lys family (Lilium) ... very nice :clap:
Speaking Waterbuck, Wild Dog and teeth.... Baboon's teeth :shock: :clap: :clap:

a lot of problems to post.... I don't know how many time I could stay here :twisted:

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 Post subject: Re: Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present?
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:36 am 
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Day 2 – 17th December 2010 – Olifants (Continued)

We rested till 3pm and sorted out a few things and departed for our afternoon drive at 4pm. We arrived back in camp at 6h20pm after a 45km drive at an average speed of 20kph.

We decided to braai tonight with steak, baked potato, onion and butternut on the menu. After dinner we both had nice showers and were fast asleep by 9.30pm.

Leopard Tortoise

The African leopard tortoise can grow to about 24 inches, though the average size is between 16 and 18 inches. They have a high, rounded shell that makes up the bulk of their body. It is covered in Squamish scales that are dark brown on the outer edges, light brown or yellow on the inner area, with a darker spot in the centre. These resemble leopard spots, which is how the tortoise got its name. African leopard tortoises have a small tail, four short legs and a rounded head. On each of the tortoise's feet is a set of tiny claws. These are used for digging and to help the tortoise move. African leopard tortoises have a hard "beak" instead of teeth. This slightly curved feature helps the tortoise tear food.


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Fork Tailed Dronga

These are aggressive and fearless birds, given their small size, and will attack much larger species, including birds of prey. Birds of prey are birds that hunt for food primarily on the wing, using their keen senses, especially vision. They are defined as any bird that hunts other animals. Their talons and beaks tend to be relatively large, powerful and adapted for tearing and/or piercing flesh. In most cases the females if their nest or young are threatened. The male is mainly glossy black, although the wings are duller. It is large-headed and has the forked tail which gives the species its name. The female is similar but less glossy. The bill is black and heavy, and the eye is red. The Fork-tailed Drongo is 25 cm long. It has short legs and sits very upright whilst perched prominently. The family is composed of thirty one species in three genera. The family name, and that of the largest genus, Lanius, is derived from the Latin word for "butcher", and some shrikes were also known as "butcher birds" because of their feeding. It flycatches or take prey from the ground and is attracted to bush fires. The call is a metallic strink-strink.

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Double Banded Sandgrouse

The Double-banded Sandgrouse is a bird about the same size as a starling. The height of the Double-banded Sandgrouse is about 25 cm and its weight is about 230 gm. You will find that the male Double-banded Sandgrouse plumage and colours are different to that of the female Double-banded Sandgrouse. The Double-banded Sandgrouse is monogamous unless its mate dies. In the event of a partner dying it will seek out a new mate. The nesting habit of Double-banded Sandgrouse is to create the nest on the ground. The bird lays eggs which are pink in colour and number between 2 to 3. The preferred habitats for Double-banded Sandgrouse are: woodlands. The Double-banded Sandgrouse is also at home in wetland and Bushveld areas. You will normally see the Double-banded Sandgrouse in flocks.

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Fungus (id help please)

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Plant (id help please)

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Scrub Hare

The Scrub Hare feeds mainly on short, green gasses, but during times of hardship scrub hares will also take leaves, stems and rhizomes of dried grass. Births peak from September to February, but they may give birth throughout the year to between one and three leverets per litter. Triplets are more likely during good rainy seasons. They will breed during most adverse drought conditions. They are solitary. Females may be accompanied by a few males during oestrus. Preferred habitat is scrub, tall grasslands and savanna.


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Giraffe

A new born giraffe measures about 6 feet. A giraffe is one of the animals who is born with a horn. The scientific name of the giraffe is "Camelopardalis." Each giraffe has a unique coat pattern. The tongue of an adult giraffe measures 27". Giraffes are vegetarians and live on the leaves of the baobab tree. Every step a giraffe takes is 15 feet in length. The giraffe is able to grasp objects such as leaves with the help of its tongue. Giraffes sleep for no more than 5 to 30 minutes in 24 hours. Luckily, giraffes have elastic blood vessels in their necks; this makes it possible for them to drink water from a stream, without fainting. A group of giraffes constitute a herd. Neck wrestling matches are often held to show authority in their herds. A giraffe is the one of the largest, strongest and peaceful animals on Earth. An adult male giraffe is called a bull; a female is called a cow and a young giraffe a calf. The average life span of a giraffe is 20 to 25 years. A large male giraffe can eat up to 100 pounds of food in a single day. A giraffes age can be calculated from its spots, as the darker the spots, the older the giraffe. Lions and large packs of hyenas are the giraffe's enemies. A lion can die if kicked by a giraffe. A giraffe's heart is 24 pounds in weight and 2 feet in length. Giraffes are social animals that live in open herds. A giraffe seldom lies down; it can sleep as well as give birth standing up! Giraffes are silent animals, but, they are certainly not mute. Sounds like the bleating of calves, and the bellowing of cows, have been heard. Giraffes can survive for long periods without consuming water. Giraffes are blessed with excellent eyesight. This helps them keep an eye on each other from a distance.

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 Post subject: Re: Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present?
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:44 pm 
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your "fungus" is maybe a frogs nest... is it near water ?
beautiful pictures :clap:
:hmz: how you do to post pictures today ???? the forum is ok for you ?????

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 Post subject: Re: Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present?
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2011 9:54 am 
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Kamadejo – thanks for the nice comments and the dung beetles were great to watch. The one just hung on for the ride and did not work. As you know we had a good year with the dogs – hope you get to see then. Waterbuck stood there and i do not know who was more curious us or him. It was nice to see the hare unfortunately we say a few that were road kill – could only have been from someone driving WAY to fast - sad.

Pumbaa – thanks for the nice comments. Photo of the waterbuck a little different – i must say it also appealed to me when i went through the photos. Thanks for information on nest it is always good to learn.

Mposthumus - thanks for the nice comments.

anne-marie – thank you very much for the flower ID and fungus – yes it was near water.

Foxy – yes i am at it again – guess i should not travel as much.


Day 2 – 17th December 2010 – Olifants (Continued)

Klipspringer

The male Klipspringer will only court the female while she is in oestrus. He will follow the female closely, lifting the forelegs and making dominant postures towards her. Often they will participate in mutual grooming. Females are mounted intermittently during a unusually extended, week-long oestrus. Their seven month gestation is also unusually long for such a small antelope. Ewes calve in the solitude of a rocky crevice or deep brush, leaving their offspring in hiding and returning to nurse only about four times per day. The kids remain in hiding for two to three months, after which they accompany their parents in all activities. Klipspringers are rarely solitary, preferring male-female, monogamous pairings- although it is also common to see two ewes accompanying a single ram. Often the second ewe is the yearling offspring of the bonded pair, as females tend to remain with their parents throughout their first year. Young rams usually leave their parents to form their own territory, although no aggression from either parent has been observed. If food becomes scarce during dry seasons, they may venture away from their home territories to more advantageous feeding areas, forming small temporary herds of up to ten animals

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Natal Francolin

It feeds on seeds, insects, fruit, molluscs and bulbs. When startled the Natal Francolin makes a strident long call of chattering notes. The Natal Francolin nests mainly in mid-summer. The nest is a scrape in the ground, which is lined with roots, grass and stalks - it is well hidden under thorny tangles or shrubs. The nest is a hollow scrape lined with grass. 4-8 creamy yellow eggs are laid, hatching in about 3 weeks.

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Crocodile

Lifespan: 80 - 100 years, seldom more. Length and weight: Mature Nile crocodiles average 4 to 5 meters in length with exceptionally large specimens reaching 6 meters. Large adults can weigh over 1000 kg. Habitat: Crocodiles are found in most game reserves throughout Africa, taking preference to rivers, lakes and wetlands. Diet and Feeding: Their diet varies quite considerably depending on its age or size. Hatchlings prey mainly on insects, frogs, small fish and crabs. As they grow larger they then start preying off larger fish like catfish as well as birds. Adults over 3 meters in length prey on birds, fish, various antelope species, monitor lizards, snakes, other predators including lions, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs as well as other crocodiles. Crocodiles are opportunistic predators and help clean water sources by feeding off any carrion they may find. Animals caught by crocodiles are normally dragged under water, causing suffocation. Larger prey species, too large to be dragged under water often die from a loss of blood and shock as a result of a number of different crocodiles gripping and tearing off flesh at the same time. When feeding off large prey, the crocodile, using its powerful jaws and gripping teeth, thrashes the prey around until small enough pieces to swallow are torn off. Crocodiles feeding on the same animal under water grab hold of the prey with a tight grip and then spin their bodies in order to break pieces of flesh off.

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Day 3 – 18th December 2010 – Olifants – Shingwedzi

Today was a moving day so we got up at 3.30am to pack the van, picnic and have our usual morning coffee before departing at 4.35am.

The morning drive was 198km at an average speed of 22kph arriving at camp just after 1.30pm. It had been a long drive so we decided to grab a light lunch at the restaurant before checking in.
Before explaining this we must comment on the speed and total disregard for the park rules of the traffic utilising the Mozambican border post.

The first thing we noticed a Shingwedzi (one of our favourite camps) was that they were doing construction in the area around reception. We found it very strange to be doing this when reception said they were full and quiet at the beginning of January. The construction would not have been such an issue if they had not blocked the majority of the pathways with building materials.

I proceeded to the bathroom and it was disgusting with no water – i understand this happens with the rains but why was there not any information or sign provided so you can imagine for yourselves what it looked like.

We then proceeded to the restaurant for our light snack. The first shock was that they had installed a TV which was blaring – not our idea of what KNP should be about. It was not busy so waited for one of the waiters to arrive. After about 10 minutes someone arrived to take our order and when we stated we did not have any menus yet the look we got was of so what. Eventually we got the menus and decided on toasted cheese and ham, pie and gravy and ice tea.

After about 20 minutes the food arrived. SO was about to put the gravy on her pie when she noticed it was cold (not Luke warm we mean stone cold). She took it back to the restaurant and they took it away to heat it up without even an apology. When she got back i decided not to wait and have my sandwich as i did not want to wait for it to get cold – i need not have bothered as it was already stone cold inside. After waiting quite a while i told SO to start eating her pie as it would get cold – just as well she did as the gravy took ages to return by which time SO had finished her pie. Up to this point we had not received our drinks and when they eventually arrived they were wrong. SO went back to change them and while there asked for the manager. When she explained the issues she received the most plaza apology.

We eventually checked in and got to the chalet in not the best frame of mind. After unpacked we sat down and realised why we enjoyed Shingwedzi as the character of the place is special. We both still cannot get over what is the point in KNP upgrading facilities and accommodation if the service level is so pathetic.

Over our 3 night stay at Shingwedzi other visitors we meet had similar issues with one lady saying she thought all the staff had tsetse fly disease as they were half asleep. Maybe another example of this is that the black rubbish bags are moving to under the trees for collection we guess. Well they had still not been collected after 2 days and i do not understand the point of having open bins after informing us of the primate problem. Overall the service level was totally unacceptable.

Zebra

Family groups are stable members maintaining strong bonds over many years. Mutual grooming where zebras stand together and nibble the hair on each other's neck and back, helps develop and preserve these bonds. Family members look out for one another if one becomes separated from the rest, the others search for it. The group adjusts its travelling pace to accommodate the old and the weak. The females within a family observe a strict hierarchical system. A dominant mare always leads the group, while others follow her in single file, each with their foals directly behind them. The lowest- ranking mare is the last in line. Although the stallion is the dominant member of the family, he operates outside the system and has no special place in the line. When a foal is born the mother keeps all other zebras (even the members of her family) away from it for 2 or 3 days, until it learns to recognize her by sight, voice and smell. While all foals have a close association with their mothers, the male foals are also close to their fathers. They leave their group on their own accord between the ages of 1 and 4 years to join an all-male bachelor group until they are strong enough to head a family.

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Vervet Monkey

Complex but stable social groups (also called troops) of 10 to 50 individuals mainly consist of adult females and their immature offspring. Males move freely in and out of these groups. Within the troop, each adult female is the centre of a small family network. Females who have reached puberty generally stay in the troop.

Grooming is important in a monkey's life. Vervets (as well as most other primates) spend several hours a day removing parasites, dirt or other material from one another's fur. In the primates' hierarchy, dominant individuals get the most grooming. The hierarchical system also controls feeding, mating, fighting, friendships and even survival. Infant vervet monkeys are suckled for about 4 months. When they become adept at feeding themselves solid food, the weaning process begins, although it may not be completed until the vervet is 1 year old. Close social bonds with female relatives begin to develop in infancy, relationships thought to endure throughout life.

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Impala

The female leaves the herd and seeks a secluded spot to bear her fawn. After giving birth she cleans the fawn and eats the afterbirth. If the fawn is born at a time when there are few other young around, the mother will stay with it in seclusion spot for a few days or even leave it lying out for a week or more before returning to the herd. If there are many other fawns, she may take hers back to the herd in a day or two, where a nursery group may form. Because predators have more difficulty selecting an individual from a nursery group, the fawns are safer there. The young are suckled for 4 to 6 months and grow rapidly, reaching maturity at a little over a year. The young males, however, are evicted from their mothers' groups when they are 6 months old, staying around the edges of the herd until they join a bachelor group. During this transition period they are most vulnerable to predators. Males will not be mature enough to hold a territory until they are 5 or 6 years old.

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Flap-neck chameleon

Flap-necked chameleons are mainly insectivorous, feeding on small insects such as flies, grasshoppers and beetles. During prey capture both eyes are directed forwards, creating binocular like vision. The long tongue which is sticky is used to catch prey. Tongue length equals body length when fully extended. When threatened its body language is characterised by a gaping mouth which displays an orange colour lining. Simultaneously it raises the occipital flaps, inflates its body and rocks from side to side. It is reported to bite readily, though the bite carries no poison or venom. Hissing also occurs. It is predated on by large birds, monkeys and snakes.

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Tawny Eagle (is this ID correct)

The Tawny Eagle's diet is largely fresh carrion of all kinds, but it will kill small mammals up to the size of a rabbit, reptiles and birds up to the size of guinea fowl. It will also steal food from other raptors. The call of the Tawny Eagle is a crow-like barking, but it is rather a silent bird except in display. It is a resident breeder which lays 1–3 eggs in a stick nest in a tree, crag or on the ground. This is a large eagle -- about 62—72 cm in length and a wingspan of 165-185 cm. It weighs 1.6–-2.4 kg. It has tawny upperparts and blackish flight feathers and tail. The lower back is very pale.

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 Post subject: Re: Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present?
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2011 12:16 pm 
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crinum - vleilelie...I hope... :o


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 Post subject: Re: Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present?
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:17 am 
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Eagle Owl – thanks for the flower ID and nice comments.

Pumbaa – thanks for the nice comments

As i stated in my previous post the service level at Shingwedzi cannot be described as poor – than would be a misrepresentation of the current situation. Why are we taking the time to write further on this? We are so passionate about KNP that service like that detracts from the overall experience when in the park.

Firstly i am no expert in the hospitality industry but travel extensively. We stand to be corrected on the next statement but Shingwedzi must have a lower occupancy rate than the camps further south therefore you would think they would like to create a different feel to encourage visitors to make the extra effort to travel up north.

I know it is unfair to compare but Mokala would be a good example of the type of place Shingwedzi could become without a great deal of effort. You cannot change the location but you can drastically change the service. The camp even after the changes still for us has that old KNP character which needs to capitalized on.

We go to KNP for the overall experience therefore i think having a TV blaring in the restaurant area is inappropriate. The other service related issues i mentioned in the previous post have nothing to do with training but more about commitment. Sanparks adjusted the check in times to be in line with the hospitality industry therefore we would expect service levels that would be regarded as standard in the majority of the hospitality industry – are we being unrealistic in expecting this? :hmz:

Reading through many posts complaining about various things within the park saddens us just like writing this – we would rather be writing compliments.

:redface: :redface:

Day 3 – 18th December 2010 – Olifants – Shingwedzi – (Continued)

Elephant

An elephant's day is spent eating (about 16 hours), drinking, and bathing, dusting, wallowing, playing and resting (about three to five hours). As an elephant only digests some 40 percent of what it eats, it needs tremendous amounts of vegetation (approximately 5 percent of its body weight per day) and about 30 to 50 gallons of water. A young elephant must learn how to draw water up into its trunk and then pour it into its mouth. Elephants eat an extremely varied vegetarian diet, including grass, leaves, twigs, and bark, fruit and seed pods. The fibrous content of their food and the great quantities consumed makes for large volumes of dung. Caring for the Young
usually only one calf is born to a pregnant female. An orphaned calf will usually be adopted by one of the family's lactating females or suckled by various females. Elephants are very attentive mothers, and because most elephant behaviour has to be learned, they keep their offspring with them for many years. Tusks erupt at 16 months but do not show externally until 30 months. The calf suckles with its mouth (the trunk is held over its head); when its tusks are 5 or 6 inches long, they begin to disturb the mother and she weans it. Once weaned usually at age 4 or 5, the calf still remains in the maternal group.

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We rested and departed at 4.30pm for our afternoon drive of 45km at an average speed of 23kph arriving back in camp at 6.25pm. The causeway road was closed due to the high water level over the low level bridge.

Amur Falcon (help needed to confirmed id)

I think the one on the right is a juvenile, extreme left female and the middle 2 males.

The Amur Falcon Falco amurensis, formerly Eastern Red-footed Falcon, is a small raptor of the falcon family. It breeds in south-eastern Siberia and Northern China, wintering in Southern Africa. Its diet consists mainly of insects, such as termites. Males are characteristically dark sooty brown, and may offer confusion with melanistic Gabar Goshawk, but the chestnut on the vent should prevent confusion here. Also there may be some superficial resemblance to Sooty Falcon and Grey Kestrel, but those two species both have yellow feet and cere. Separating male Amur and Red-footed Falcons is best done by the white underwing coverts on Amur Falcon, whereas the underwing of male Red-footed Falcons is uniformly grey. Females may offer a bit more confusion with a wider range of falcons as they have a typical falcon head pattern. The grey on the top of the head should quickly rule out confusion with Red-footed Falcons. The female has barring on the lower belly. Red cere and feet rule out all other falcons. For juveniles, red feet should restrict ID to the Amur and Red-footed group, and the darker crown and lack of buff all the way up the belly rules out Western Red-footed Falcon. Females and juveniles lack the buff underwing coverts of Red-footed Falcon.

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River

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We departed on the afternoon drive at 4h15pm and arrived back at camp 6h20pm. The drive was 45km at an average speed of 20kph. The small bridge as you exit the back of the camp was still closed due to the high level of the water.

We had a very relaxing evening around the braai with steak etc and chatting to our very nice neighbours. After a fair amount of wine we eventually got into bed at 10.30pm.

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 Post subject: Re: Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present?
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:25 pm 
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Day 4 – 19th December 2010 – Shingwedzi

We got up early as per normal at 3h45am and sort out things for the drive while having coffee on the patio as the bush starting to awaken. We departed from the camp at 4.30pm. The morning drive was 215km up to crooks corner arriving back in camp at 1pm at an average speed of 25km per hour.

We saw a large number of vehicles speeding today with the majority being what appeared to be workers.

Crooks corner was nice but i was a little disappointed with the number of insects, webs etc as i was looking forward to utilising the macro lens.

Woodlands Kingfisher

The Woodland Kingfisher is a species of tree kingfisher that can be found in tropical Africa south of the Sahara. It is an aggressively territorial bird, attacking intruders including humans that dare to enter its territory. It can often be seen perching on a dead branch looking for food, which includes insects, snakes, fish and frogs. The nest is a tree hole excavated by a woodpecker or barbet. A single clutch of three round white eggs is typical.

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Yellow Billed Kite

These birds are breeding migrants, coming down from equatorial regions of Africa, from around July through to March. They can be found in a wide range of habitats and often around human settlement. They are great opportunists.

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Bird (too far to get confirmed ID)

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Mopane Worm

Like most caterpillars, the Mopane worm's life cycle starts when it hatches in the summer, after which it proceeds to eat the foliage in its immediate vicinity. As the larva grows, it moults 4 times in its 5 larval stages, after which the Mopane worm is considered most desirable for harvesting. Provided that the larva has not been harvested after its fourth moult, it burrows underground to pupate, the stage at which it undergoes complete transformation to become the adult moth. This stage happens over winter, for duration of 6 to 7 months, where after it emerges at the beginning of summer (November or December). The adult moths live only for three to four days, during which time they seek to mate and lay their eggs.

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Water Leguaan

The tail is also its chief defensive weapon, thrashed viciously from side to side. When molested, this outsized lizard also arches its neck and emits loud, deep hisses, creating an awesome and somewhat prehistoric spectacle. At a last resort it will feign death, sometimes for hours on end. However, these Leguaan do prefer to avoid confrontation, and will run away from danger if possible. Water Leguaan spend a large part of the day basking in the sun at the water's edge. Their diet consists of fish, frogs and other small creatures, crabs and mussels (which their large, rounded, peg like teeth can easily crack). Crocodile eggs and the young, which hatch from them, is also a delicacy. The female water Leguaan lays her eggs deep within a hole she excavates in a termite mound, a location that ensures a constant temperature and humidity for the year long incubation period. Anxious to repair the damage, the termites set to work, enclosing the eggs safely from the sight of predators. Ungratefully, the hatchlings make a meal of their host termites and other insects, before heading instinctively for the nearest water.

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Tree (id help please)

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Insect

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Fruit (id help please)

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 Post subject: Re: Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present?
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 6:14 am 
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Day 4 – 19th December 2010 – Shingwedzi – (Continued)

Flower (id help please)

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Carmine Bee Eater

Its usual habitat included low-altitude river valleys and floodplains, preferring vertical banks suitable for tunnelling when breeding, but readily digging vertical burrows in the level surface of small salt islands. This is a highly sociable species, gathering in large flocks, in or out of breeding season. They roost communally in trees or reed beds, and disperse widely during the day. Nesting is at the end of a 1-2m long burrow in an earthen bank, where the lay from 2-5 eggs. This is migratory species, spending the breeding season, between August and November, in Zimbabwe, before moving south to South Africa for the summer months, and the migrating to equatorial Africa from March to August. Their diet is made up primarily of bees and other flying insects, and their major hunting strategy involves hawking flying insects from perch. Perches may include branches of vegetation or even the backs of large animals, such as the Kori Bustard. They are attracted to wildfires because of the flushed insects, and are often seen circling high in the air. It also eats rodents and lizards.

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European and Carmine Bee Eaters

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 Post subject: Re: Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present?
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 5:35 am 
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Day 4 – 19th December 2010 – Shingwedzi – (Continued)

Butterflies (can someone help this ID)

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Tree Squirrel

Like other rodents, squirrels have four front teeth that never stop growing so they don't wear down from the constant gnawing. Tree squirrels are the types most commonly recognized, often seen gracefully scampering and leaping from branch to branch. Other species are ground squirrels that live in burrow or tunnel systems, where some hibernate during the winter season. Though they are terrific climbers, these squirrels do come to the ground in search of fare such as nuts, acorns, berries, and flowers. They also eat bark, eggs, or baby birds. Tree sap is a delicacy to some species. Whether they dwell high in a tree or in an underground burrow, female squirrels typically give birth to two to eight offspring. Babies are blind and totally dependent on their mothers for two or three months. Mothers may have several litters in a year, so most squirrel populations are robust.

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Bateleur Eagle

The female is similar to the male except that she has grey rather than black secondary flight feathers. Immature birds are brown with white dappling and have greenish facial skin. It takes them seven or eight years to reach full maturity. The eagle hunts over a territory of 650 km2 a day. The prey of this raptor is mostly birds, including pigeons and Sandgrouse, and also small mammals; it also takes carrion. The Bateleur is generally silent, but on occasions it produces a variety of barks and screams.

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 Post subject: Re: Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present?
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 9:12 am 
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the Butterfly... could it be "Melanargia galathea" ? (in French Demi-deuil)
begin to be rare because of the intensification of agriculture
thanks for beautiful photos :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Did KNP deliver our early Xmas present?
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Day 4 – 19th December 2010 – Shingwedzi – (Continued)

We departed for the afternoon drive of 75km at 3.30pm and arrived back in camp at 6h20pm with average speed of 25kph.

Today diner was chicken basil with wild rice. As SO was doing diner i downloaded from the SD cards onto the hard drive.

Grey Heron

Ardea cinerea is 100 cm in size (39 inches). Its body is very slim and therefore rather agile. It has got an orange bill that is very strong. The small oval head is grey with long black plumes. Long neck is whitish with ventral black stripes going down to the chest. Wings are grey and shoulders are black. Its legs are yellow. The males and the females look similar. Their flying seems rather slow and the wing beats are quite noisy.

Herons belong to opportunistic hunters. They feed on fish and other aquatic animals. When hunting they use their long neck, powerful bill and last but not least their patience. They are able to stay motionless in water for long hours just to wait for their prey. During winter when water is frozen they move to river estuaries to find food. They generally nest in colonies and one nest can be used for several generations. The hens have approximately 4 eggs, which are blue.

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Red Backed Shrike

As already mentioned shrikes are omnivorous, so their diet consists mainly from insects. They also eat small invertebrates. Their nest is cup shaped, located in the fork of a tree or a bush. The hens have from five to nine eggs. These eggs may have different coloration. Sometimes their nest may be parasitized by the common cuckoo. Cuckoos lay their eggs alongside the shrikes’ eggs. However shrikes learn to recognize cuckoo eggs and discard them from their nest.

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