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 Post subject: o-dog I thought I should share...KNP Summer '10 highlights..
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 3:43 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:29 pm
Posts: 544
Location: Okavango
Hi...from Nov 27- 5 Dec 2010 we spent about a week in the KNP for my Aunts 70th. Also it was the first time my folks, brother and myself would be sharing a car in 10 years as we are older now...it was great to have our spotting team at full strength again though!

Normally we like to cover the whole park but this time we decided to take it easy and so spent 4 nights in Lower Sabi followed by 4 nights in Skukuza.

Early summer is always great in the KNP as everything is active...and every time one or two species really show themselves while others seem to be more scarce. This trip had good variety but I will always remember it for the leopards and lions swapping roles...

:P


So I drove up from Cape Town and after having a bit of luck spotting the new lions in the Karoo National Park at the beginning of the Potlekkertjie loop during my 1-night stay there, I picked up the rest of my close family from Joburg airport.

We went straight from there through Malelane gate to Lower Sabi along the Crocodile River road.

The highlight was without a doubt a hippo calf taking its first few steps. Only have this on video though but the word 'cute' was redefined for me!!

Saw plenty of the usual impis and cuckoo and frogs and insects were everywhere as you'd expect for sumer!!

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Ground Hornbills are a great favourite and this one had a frog...I tried some sort of artistic shot for this one...and made it b & w as this often can make an average picture look better.

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With temperature around 35 - 40 for most of the trip we knew we would have to be at the gate at 430 eveyrday to maximise viewing..

This we did the next morning and made our way out towards Mlondozi Dam side. At about 445 my bro shouted LEOPARD! and our first leopard was making his way into some bushes along the H10. Not good enough for photos but he had started with a good spot so I felt I needed to find something. (slight competition makes us get our spotting A-game on so he had set the standard with a nice spot!!) We were also happy to spot leopard early on because once you have seen your first early on, they usually keep coming, but if you haven't then it can be tough!

We saw some great elephant activity in this herd...


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Martjie was around and showed us some lions near Muntshe...she had made such a great spot to find them although they were far off! Viewing was good around Muntshe and we found a herd of cloe on 1000 buffs in the distance (again on video) but they were far off. Lots of warthogs made us happy because 10 years ago their numbers were not great!

We then headed back to camp to enjoy the plethora of birds to be found n camp...you cant get bored of the birds here especially if you have a fruiting fig tree close by.
Apart from the usuals we had some good plum-coloured starling viewing from our hut...

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..and this Black Collared Barbet...

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It was really hot now and we left at about 330om for a drive up the Sabi. Close to the S29 I thought i was dreaming because it was 44 on our car thermometer when i thought I saw a cat...STOP...sure enough a young leopard milling about on the side of the road.

She wanted to cross and so was milling about for 10minutes or so...I caught her before she used some hole under the road to get to the other side...

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Remarkably with another set of lions (about 9 in thick bush) close to Sunset Dam we had seen the Big 5 twice in a day counting the next Big 5 from when the first one was completed! I know its not all about the big 5 but it was still crazy...

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Mana Pools: 11th - 20th Oct
KNP: 27th Nov - 5 Dec


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 Post subject: Re: I thought I should share...KNP Summer '10 highlights..
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:09 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:29 pm
Posts: 544
Location: Okavango
The next 2 days saw us working around the S28 and S21 as well as spending a whole late morning and afternoon in Komatipoort.

As it was my aunts 70th we went to this resaurant called Tambarina...

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...now I am not a fan of leaving the park but we had to make an exception...the food was an eating sensation with prawns and chicken going around...it was full value for having left the Park...sadly though we got back to late to make the night drive with Martjie and as luck would have it...she saw what?? Yes a pangolin!!!! I would like to think had we been there we things would have changed and we would have all missed it :mrgreen:

Anyway the viewing was good but predator sightings were just a bit distant or to many near misses!! There was a lovely male leopard around the S128 and we saw our only cheetahs of the trip on the S28 although they were far off they eventually did walk.
Also saw distant male lions around Duke and a sick (old) lioness close to Mpemane.


Some of the better pics were mostly along the S28...

European swallow...

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Pearl Spotted Owl

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Red Crested Korhaan...did you know they make about 100 clicks on average before the whistle part of their call begins...they are prolific in summer..anyway try count next time...

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Also had these guys blocking us one evening on our way back...

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The highlight was the huge numbers of rhino and we counted well over 25 on one drive!!

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Mana Pools: 11th - 20th Oct
KNP: 27th Nov - 5 Dec


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 Post subject: Re: I thought I should share...KNP Summer '10 highlights..
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:50 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:29 pm
Posts: 544
Location: Okavango
Anyway Lower Sabi met our expectations which are high for that area. The one thing that helped us throughout our stay was the fact that the open areas were all burnt ...in fact 70% of the roads we drove were burnt and had nice new green grass making spotting an absolute pleasure!!! It was like looking for animals on a rugby field!

Over to Skukuza we went for the second half of our trip...we stayed there in the nice houses on the rhs of the camp overlooking the river...nice after my last trips in KNP were mostly camping..

As far as viewing went from camp, it was great for birds and insects etc and night time revealed many a thicktailed bushbaby harvesting insects on the thatch near the shop. A first for me in KNP.
It was also great to see a broadbilled roller so far south as we normall see them from Shingwedzi northwards. It was close to the bridge.

I have to say if you give SKukuza a chance and choose the right area, it is very possible to escape the big crowds although anyway its never a big problem outside school holiday time...


BUT...for once it was nice to work the skukuza area properly especially at the prime times...

Wild Dogs were also being seen all over close to camp so we were really on the lookout and were expectant as one should never be i the bush :wink: :lol:

Anyway we worked the area and spent good time around Lake Panic.

We also spent time around the S4 and S65 hoping to find the dogs especially around the tar road areas...

The Hyena Den close to camp was very active and provided stable sightings throughout our stay...

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Also these Klipspringer were a nice treat...

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As well as this Kudu Bull!!!

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We saw the odd lion or two as well as a pride on the Southern side of the S65 but the view was bad and with a handful of cars it was more frustrating than anything else trying to get a view of them feeding. We were also tired and with other members of our family sending a message on the second morning that they had found the dogs close to camp (we were near Pretoriuskop) we were actually in a foul mood :wall: :lol: ....it doesnt help sending texts as to where animals are because its becomes frustrating or does it?

We didnt realize but this was the calm before the storm...

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Mana Pools: 11th - 20th Oct
KNP: 27th Nov - 5 Dec


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 Post subject: Re: I thought I should share...KNP Summer '10 highlights..
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2011 11:04 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:29 pm
Posts: 544
Location: Okavango
Morning :thumbs_up:

So anyway we were up bright and early and making our way west towards the S4 for 2 reasons.
1) To find Dogs
2) to follow up on reports of mating leopards on that road from the night before.

We drove past the first hyena den then came across 2 more sets of hyenas. Within 20 minutes we had seen probably 20 hyenas. One wonders how there are any prey species left around SKukuza!!

The reason for the last big group of hyenas was this...

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This giraffe had apparently been killed by some lions a week before. And now the scavengers were having a field day as the lions had left the area. It was great seeing all the activity and especially fun watching the hyenas chasing the vultures away.


Anyway we carried on and headed up the S4...


There was a car stopped on the road ahead of us...


This was great news...


Because we knew that they had probably found what we had been looking for!!!


And sure enough :D


The pair was on the Eastern side of the road and in thick bush. After sometime they decided to cross over... :cam:

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We were very happy!! 15 minutes later and having been joined by the rest of the family in another car for a quick visual, the sighting ended with the leopards moving off into some thick bush.

Not even 6am and we had had a great morning so we decided to make the trip down to Afsaal for a nice breakfast and meet up with a friend who was staying at Biyamiti.


It was getting hot so we started heading back...we decided to take the biyamiti weir route back from Afsaal and then head straight to Skukuza from there via the Biyamiti loop.

We were admiring some waders and Dikkops on the lower side of the weir when I looked back up above the weir and saw this...


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Yes can you believe it!! Another leopard!!! :D :dance:


And this young male was really putting on a show. After 15 minutes of showing off by climbing onto crevices and onto rocks he went and spooked a rhino (which thought it was a leopard) which was oddly perched almost directly on top the prominent koppie at the weir, we then left the sighting.


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Anyway we headed back via the Biyamiti loop and enjoyed some general game and the huge numbers of monotonous larks calling...

It was really hot again and after a nice swim had a great relax!!!

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Mana Pools: 11th - 20th Oct
KNP: 27th Nov - 5 Dec


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 Post subject: Re: I thought I should share...KNP Summer '10 highlights..
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:05 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:29 pm
Posts: 544
Location: Okavango
Hey Morning...hope everyone had a great Easter....another long weekend awaits us :)

Anyway so the next day we decided to go North towards Satara as this trip was only at Lower Sabi and Skukuza and so we wanted to head up to see another part of the park for this trip.

We made our way along the H1-2 taking in the various game species and appreciating the huge open areas that had just grassed over after the controlled burn.

After about 45 minutes or so an sms came through to say the rest of our family were watching wild dogs AGAIN! ... :mrgreen: ...we were soo bleak we had chosen to go north as it seemed every time we moved away from Skukuza someone would find wild dogs right nearby!!

We decided that we had to make the best of things anyway and before long were watching this lovely herd of Waterbuck that were close to the road near Tshokwane.

Image


After noticing some hyenas running behind the Waterbuck in the the distance we continued on. There was very good buffalo and wildebeest activity but when all you wanted to see was Wild Dogs, one looses focus a bit and doesnt appreciate things the way one should. Guess its just a case of being greedy when in the park :lol:
Nevertheless the viewing was hotting up and as we turned onto the S126 a friendly German guy told us that there were some lions up ahead.
We were glad as this road was our plan before we had even started the trip and it was about to pay off!!


The lions were a pride of 10 and were milling about next to the road, about 50m away but in good view. It was nice to see some active lions and these were big healthy ones. About 5 males and 5 females of which 2 of the males were big big guys!!


We were happy with these lions and as we approached Muzandzeni (about 5km away) there was the shout of LEOPARD!!!!

YES another leopard!!



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Unbelievable and this female looked to be a very dominant individual slowly making her way along the bushline marking her territory and giving us nice visuals. We were joined by some other very excited tourists and it was nice to be able to show people these beautiful creatures and see their hapiness!

We eventually left this leopard after a good 15 minutes of viewing and had a brief stop at the picnic site.


We then continued South along the S36 and although it was hot, the odd elephant and buffalo was showing itself. We then enjoyed a view of an Ostrich or two at Nhlanguleni. This was the first time I recall visiting this picnic spot and will definitely be back!

Anyway we were on the lookout for Sable but no such luck .... with the Sables that is....



...because with temperatures approaching mid-30's an eyelids feeling very heavy there was another SHOUT from someone in the vehicle!!

We were right at Lugmag Dam and on the LHS of the road was ANOTHER leopard!
THis young male was stalking some impala and we had inadvertently destroyed the hunt. Anyway he looked young and was probably honing his skills as the heat was building up.

Anyway he provided us with some of the best shots we have ever had of a leopard (even though Ive worked in the Sabi Sands). This just goes to show that KNP is the best for viewing over the long term!!

So anyway this is him and my Dad and Brother have exactly the same shot also in focus...we couldnt go wrong as he was about 5m from us holding the pose for a few minutes before he decided the lenses protruding towards him were from some 3-eyed monster.

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Anyway we were on a high heading back towards Skukuza and spent the rest of the day making use of the facilities and also had a nice dinner at the Selati Restaurant. I am a big fan of South African history (and particularly anything KNP related) and was very impressed at how the Selati restaurant was setup making one get a real feel of how things must have been.

We went sleep knowing we had one last chance to find those dogs :whistle:

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Mana Pools: 11th - 20th Oct
KNP: 27th Nov - 5 Dec


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 Post subject: Re: I thought I should share...KNP Summer '10 highlights..
Unread postPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 12:15 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:29 pm
Posts: 544
Location: Okavango
Thanx to those who have read so far..anyway so back to the last little installment :wink:

So it was up bright and early again...I had to drive to Joburg and drop off the family before I was to continue onto Cape Town. We only had to be out of the park by about Midday so we decided that for once we would really work the roads close to Skukuza.
So we went South while some members went up in the direction of Tshokwane to follow up on where we had seen a poor visual of a leopard with a large Male Impala carcass next to the road.

We made our way towards the junction of the H3 & H1-1...then South towards Malelane...it wasnt long until an sms came through. Other members of the family were also headed to Transport Dam area.
They had just found dogs and we were close :D ...funnily enough they never really had cellular reception on their network but this one time they did...wow!!

Its hard to keep to the speed limit in this instance...but we did and made our way straight there!

At last...what we had been waiting for!!

There were at least 5 dogs and they had just caught a young Impala and were eating it next to the road.


The sighting didn't last long and we didn't get any pics that we were proud of but wow it was great to eventually see them!

We then made our way slowly back to Skukuza for a relaxed breakfast...

About 1km South of the junction with the S114 we saw a lot of vehicles around. One id**t was looking at us rather smugly because he was pleased we had just missed the sighting. Can you believe some people? Anyway we asked some people in another car what was seen and apparently 8 wild dogs had just run off to the east of the road. Damn but oh well we were happy with our sighting!

But we were not going to give up and having worked in the Sabi Sands the experience had taught me that dogs can always come straight back to the area where they had just been seen especially if they are hunting as often individuals get temporarily lost and occasionally go back to the starting point. We also were thinking that if they were going in the SE direction that this would mean they would pop out about 2-3km down the S114...


We headed South down this road...

And every corner we passed made us loose more hope and half of us were starting to say 'leave it' we going back to camp...then, OK

'Please just check around the next corner..they can easily travel this far in no time'....

And then 'hey whats that in the road?'

We had found them :thumbs_up: :D


And whats more, we caught them just as they were killing some baby impalas. Shame poor things...it looked like it was a bad morning for these 2-3 little guys and the Impala population of Skukuza!

So I think the pics tell the story a bit...

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So they finished the impala and even another dog came running back with yet another baby impala in its jaws. Poor things but we were on a high having seen nature at some of its rawest best.

We made our way back to camp and had an exciting drive out..funnily enough we just needed to see rhino on the way out to complete seeing the big 5 for the 8th time in a row in 7 days. Well we didn't see any and although its not about the big 5 as so many say, the point is that arguably November/December is one of the best times to find the big stuff because although hot its still very open! Whats more is most of the Avian migrants are around and the termites are out leading to some awesome but tricky to photograph animal behaviour! Also so many baby antelope etc around is also great!

So this is my little attempt to sell KNP to people in early summer...we always only went in winter over school holidays but now that Im out of school since a decade or so :wink: we love KNP in summer!!

Anyway thanx for reading...til next time :thumbs_up:

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KNP: 27th Nov - 5 Dec


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