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 Post subject: BluTuna More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:39 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Tomorrow morning we'll be off on our next trip into paradise.

I was hoping to have most of our stuff packed and ready to load into the BluTuna but as usual, everything gets left to the last moment :(

My intention is to post new reports on a daily basis while we are in/around the park but that depends entirely on how good the internet connection is where we are staying.

Our Itinerary :-

28/10/2011-03/11/2011 Day Visitor - Croc Bridge Gate (Ngwenya Lodge - Komatipoort)
04/11/2011 Letaba
05-06/11/2011 Day Visitor - Pafuri Gate (Pafuri River Camp)
07-08/11/2011 Shingwedzi
09-10/11/2011 Satara
11/11/2011 Lower Sabie

For the first week at Ngewnya Lodge we have some extra baggage ;) ; the SO's sister, who hasn't been to KNP for many years, and her daughter who is a KNP rookie (I'm going to be a Rose among the Thorns :whistle: ). A small amount of pressure then, having the responsibility of initiating a rookie teenager into the wonders of The Park.

There is also my son who accompanied us to the KNP at least once a year between 1988 and 2004. He now lives in Japan - and will be with us via this TR and daily emails - internet connection permitting.

I have a keen sense of anticipation about this trip, probably caused by reading all of the wonderful trip reports on this forum - I hope I haven't raised my expectations too high! I can't wait to get back to my favourite place on the planet.


Our wishlist for this trip....

Things we've never seen in the park...

Pangolin, Aardvark, Bush Pig, Striped Polecat, Suni
Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Tambourine Dove, Racket-Tailed Roller, Pennant-Winged Nightjar, Long-Crested Eagle.

Things we've seen once....

Black Rhino, Cape Clawless Otter, Caracal
Pel's Fishing Owl, Narina Trogon, Crowned Eagle.

Things we've seen twice...

Serval, Lichtenstein's Hartebeest.

Other favourites...

Honey Badger, Painted Dogs, Leopard, Cheetah, AWC, Big Tuskers, Roan, Sable, Eland, Porcupine, Genet and any other animals, birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians that cross our path.

All of the above in good light and in camera range - I should be so lucky :P

Before anyone asks, I have a Nikon D5100 and a D5000 with Nikkor 18-55mm & 55-200mm and a Sigma 150-500mm. The SO has a Nikon S640 Point-and-Squirt for the scenery.

_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 8:24 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 0 : October 28.

Saw lots today, Cows, Goats, Horses and a couple of large Bulls plus a Yorkshire Terier at breakfast.

Early start tomorrow to get to Crtoc Bridge gate by 05:30. I Hope I will be reporting lots of sightings of wild animals

Thanks for the good luck wishes gjorgi :thumbs_up:

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:27 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 1 : October 29.

We had a big thunderstorm at about 02:00 this morning and the day was overcast and in rained on and off for most of the morning.

Despite that, we had a very good day and had some excellent sightings. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough light to get more than reference photos.

We took the S28 from Croc Bridge to Lower Sabie and saw all of the usual suspects including Eles, White Rhino and, on the H4-1 just before LS, a couple of Lionesses on the Sabie River bank.

One of the birds we spotted was a Bronzewinged Courser. We also saw a Coucal being mobbed by Magpie Shrikes. It was quite distant but we managed to get a good look at it and noticed that it didn't have any markings at the base of its tail. We are almost certain that this was a Senegal Coucal. Has anyone else seen this bird in the park? The books say it does not occur here.

Returning to Croc, we found this immature Bateleur near the Sabie weir

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then we we took the Gomondwane loop (S130) and once again this road paid off with a herd of 100+ Buffs with lots of calves.

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And a pair of Yellowbilled Hornbills fighting. The referee was making sure it was a good, clean, fight.

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We reached the H4-1 and came upon a small elephant herd which contained a very tiny baby who was getting his breakfast.

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Further along we found a Warthog with four small, hyperactive piglets.

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This afternoon, we only managed a short drive down to the end of the Hippo Pool road and back, there wasn't much to see but the sun did come out for a few minutes just before it set.

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_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:04 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 2 : October 30. Morning Drive.

What an extraordinary day! We had some outstanding sightings and excellent photo-ops
:D

We We drove up the H4-1 to Lower Sabie and sighted a couple of Lions who were crashed out about 50 metres from the road.

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A Lioness appeared.....

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.....and as walked past one of them she gave him a love-tap (i.e. Smacked him hard across the chops). He sat up and watched her walk away with a totally besotted look on his face.

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A bit further on we encountered a couple of Dagga Boys.

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and on the LS Weir Bridge, some Wiretailed Swallows.

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We decided to spend some time at Sunset Dam. There were several Grey Herons who gave us a wonderful air display.

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_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2011 1:26 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 2 : October 30. Afternoon Drive.

This afternoon we only had about 2 hours for a drive. Not far from Croc Bridge, this chap was crossing the road

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and after we had made sure he crossed safely, we moved a few metres and found some Warthog piglets that were even smaller than the ones we saw yesterday.

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I think the Warthog's name is Charlie; and these are Charlie's Angels.

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We had planned to drive the Gormondwane loop again but for some reason, after we'd passed the S28, I decided to turn around and drive up the S28 and turn back when an hour had passed. This turned out to be a stroke of genius on my part.

We saw several magnificent Bull Kudus with some of the biggest horns we've ever seen - too far away and into the sun, so no photos :(

We then saw this Slender Mongoose cross the road and he gave me a rare opportunity to get some pictures. Usually, they disappear into the grass, never to be seen again.

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A bit later, we got a tip-off from a car coming the other way (A BIG THANK YOU, Whoever you are!) which was lucky for us, because we would have turned around and headed back before we got to this.......

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This was a first Cheetah sighting for my Sis-in-Law and her daughter and it ranks as one of our best ever as well.

Finally, while heading (short of time) back to the gate, I couldn't resist stopping to shoot this Ele

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and this beautiful baby Giraffe.

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_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 10:13 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 3 : October 31.

Today was a bit sparse, I suppose it was compensation for the excellent day we had yesterday.

Near the Vurhami bridge we spotted the Hyaena early patrol.

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We took the S28 up to Lower Sabie and then returned to Croc via the S28/S137/S130.

Saw a large herd of Buffs on the S28 in the distance, I guess about 200+ but more kept coming out of the thicker bush.

At Sunset Dam this Monitor was creeping around at the edge of the parking area. The colouring looks a bit unusual to me.

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A Grey Heron was showing off - Hippo-Surfing on one leg!

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And we sheparded this Flap-Necked Chameleon in tiger stripe camoflage across the road.

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We didn't do an afternoon drive as we went on the Sunset Drive out of Croc. It turned out to be a very good drive with sightings of AWC, Large-Spotted Genet, White-Tailed Mongoose, Civet, Lesser Bushbaby and this single Lioness strolling up the H4-1.

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_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:00 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 4 : November 1.

What a horrible day! It's been dim and dreary and raining for most of the day. Most of the animals seem to have gone on holiday and my cameras went almost unused.

We drove along the Croc River road this morning and up to Afsaal and drove back to our base via Malelane.

We really do seem to be having a lot of sightings of young ones. We saw lots of young Giraffes and another tiny Ele today.

I managed to get a pictures of a young White Rhino and a brand new Zebra foal, the first tiny Zeb we've seen this trip.

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Hopefully, the weather tomorrow will be a bit kinder to us. The forecast is partly cloudy.

_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:10 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 5 : November 2.

Up the S28 to Lower Sabie again this morning. A much nicer day today, a bit sparse on sightings but at least it wasn't cold, wet and miserable. We even had some sunshine for a while :)

We found this Bateleur who was evicted from his tree by a mob of Whitebacked Vultures.

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Lots of very young Giraffes again! This one had an itch he couldn't scratch :)

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A Magpie Shrike conference.

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An African Jacana, the local representative from the Ministry of Silly Walks.

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Another baby, this time a Hippo resting on Mom.

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Jousting Impies.

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Back to Croc Bridge Croc for breakfast and the SO spotted a Lunar Moth on the wall of the shop. We'd only ever seen one of these before and it got nailed by a Masked Weaver and only the very tattered wings were left.

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This afternoon we took the H4-2/H5/S108 then up the S25 to Gayisenga waterhole and back to Croc on the S25. We didn't see much even though we had some nice light for a while. On the S26 we ran into these two young bull Eles jousting.

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_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 10:39 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 6 : November 3.

We had a shortened morning drive today as the Sis-in-Law & her daughter wanted a last drive before returning to Joburg.

We drove the Gomondwane loop (s130) then the S137 and S28.

Plenty of Impies and Giraffes. There seem to be baby Giraffe everywhere, I wasn't aware that they had a specific mating time but they seem to have been very busy around June or July last year - Maybe they were celebrating the World Cup coming to SA :)

On the S137 we were stopped by a Jeep Jockey. Instead of asking/giving news he asked if this was the right road for Lower Sabie. It seems he was lost :huh:

Near the S137/S28 junction, we came upon a small traffic jam and had our second Cheetah sighting of the trip.

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On the s28, we saw a immature Bateleur land on the ground so we sneaked up on him (if you can sneak in a 2 ton car) hoping to get some shots of him taking off. To our surprise, these two Tawny Eagles swooped down and landed next to him, then after a squabble between themselves, took off in a huff as the Bateleur had nothing for them to steal.

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Finally, we found this muddy White Rhino.

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and her not so muddy calf.

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You may be happy to know that Charlie and her Angels are all fit and well, We spied them again around the same area. Charlie is recognisable by her lack of an antenna :)

This afternoon, the SO decided she needed to go to Afsaal to get someting she'd seen a few days ago. We entered at Malelane and got to Afsaal about 5 minutes before they closed at 16:00.

On the way we met our first 'Mites, codenamed Hoyle and Knot. We just stopped to say hi and exchange codenames as we were in a hurry.

That didn't leave us much time to get back to Croc and we had to spend a good part of the drive just under the speed limit. We did manage to spy some Dwarf Mongooses, one of our favourites. We always stop and spend some time with these cuties if we can.

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In the golden light just before sunset, I managed to get this Redbilled Hornbill.

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More Hyaenas as we approached the end of the S28 but they decided not to be photogenic.

We have a long drive tomorrow up to Letaba. Hopefully we'll see some nice things on the way.

_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 07, 2011 3:50 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 7 : November 4.

What a glorious day! Sunshine and no clouds.

After a bit of a late start, we made our way up the H4-1 to Lower Sabie and on the way saw yet another tiny Ele.

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A bit later, the SO spied a strange looking bird flying alonside us and we immediately ID'd it as a Trumpeter Hornbill. This is easliy the furthest south we have ever seen them. It settled in a tree and posed nicely for me.

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On the S82 Mativuhlungu Loop a Secretary bird was marching through the bush.

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We spent some time at Sunset Dam before going into LS for breakfast. This dam turned up trumps again and we witnessed the clash of the titans. Sunset Dam ROCKS

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And a couple more gentle subjects

A Ruff

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and an immature Three-Banded Plover.

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Continuing on the H10, in the area of the Mlondozi waterhole (not the dam) we had 3 sightings of Reedbuck!!!!

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After taking a break at Satara where we saw one of the resident Scops Owlets,

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we continued on the H1-3 and saw yet another pair of Reedbucks and a pair of Bush Chickens with a chick.

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We are now at Letaba and decided to forego the afternoon drive in favour of a walk around the camp to find some photographic subjects.

I managed to shoot this Rock Monitor after chasing him around a tree.

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In the river bed was this collared Tusker. I haven't had time to ID this chap, ideas anyone?

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And still on the baby theme, a Vervet Monkey.

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_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:56 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 8 : November 5.

Continuing our journey to Pafuri from Letaba.

There were a couple of things that I was a bit dismayed at. Firstly, the Wooden Banana/Tree restaurants have changed their menus. The price of a "traditional breakfast" is now R34.50 - not so bad you might think, but all you get for that is 2 eggs, 2 rashers of bacon and a slice of toast. If you want extra bacon it's R18.50 for another 2 rashers. Compare that to a Wimpy breakfast for around the same price.

When we arrived at Mopani, hoping to find a table for breakfast on the balcony overlooking Pioneer Dam, we discovered that they don't serve breakfast on the balcony any more. That was the only thing that made up for the shockingly slow service we usually get there, so we will be avoiding that particular restaurant until normal service is resumed.

A new sign has appeared next to the back (east) gate at Shingwedzi (at least I've never noticed it before) stating that this gate will be closed 15 minutes before the main camp gates in the evening. Are they so short of staff that they can't get someone to walk 100 metres and close the gate at the regular time?

Enough of the gripes and on with the trip report.....

First off, on the verandah of our hut, a beautiful moth.

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We took the S50 and didn't see a single animal until just before the S143 (Capricorn Loop) when we saw a huge herd of Buffalo we estimated at at least 600 strong.

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At Tihongonyeni waterhole some Tsessebe came down to drink.

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And when we reached Shingwedzi, this bull with massive tusks was in the river bed.

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On the river loops at Pafuri we spied a young Nyala ram

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And surpisingly, some Wildebeest! We've never seen them north of Letaba before.

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This Nile Monitor was at Crooks Corner.

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_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:31 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 9 : November 6.

As always, Pafuri is the most beautiful part of the KNP, the wonderful riverine forest along the Livuvu River has an extra piece of magic over and above the rest of paradise.

The trees are alive with bird calls but only a couple presented themselves for pictures.

A Giant Kingfisher

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and a White-Fronted Bee-Eater having a sand bath.

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If you want to see nyala, this is the place to go.

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There's plenty of other game, Impies, Warthogs, Buffs and a few Eles.

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And around the next corner, who knows? You might get really lucky and see one of these...

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_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 11, 2011 9:10 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
DAy 10 : November 7.

We decided to have a lie-in today. We were up at about 7:30, had a leisurely breakfast and headed for our next stop at Shingwedzi.

On the river loops in the afternoon, we saw a Grey Heron which had caught a fish and was harassed into dropping it by a Saddlebilled Stork which landed to grab his loot.

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Constable Fish Eagle witnessed the event and swooped in to apprehend the villan

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but the perp was too quick for him and made off with his prize

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leaving a disgruntled looking Fish Eagle behind.

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Also around and about were a good sized Crocodile

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and a Water Thick-Knee.

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At last, a Yellow Ribbon!!! We met with DaveJenny and spent most of the evening chatting.

_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 6:54 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 11 : November 8.

This morning we took the Redrocks road up to Tshange lookout and back. The area was very green and offered up more animals than we usually see on this road. There were some Buffa, an Ele and plenty of Impies.

A tree squirrel posed nicely for me.

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Flying lessons - Ground Hornbill style...

1. Grab chick by the throat

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2. Make sure you have a good hold and

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3. Throw it from the tree, if you can

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4. Get a reproachful look from chick

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Usually, Emerald-Spotted Dove don't like to pose for pictures but this one did nicely.

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At Tshange lookout, there was a Giant Plated Lizard and a Rainbow Skink.

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In the afternoon, we visited the river loops again. and there was another tusker in the river bed near the low-level bridge,

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and Grey Heron in a ballet pose.

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The next sighting came as a total surprise. The last thing I expected to see were these beauties! Once I'd realised what I was seeing, stopped the car and got the camera into action, one of the four had moved into the bush.

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A Natal Spurfowl shouting the odds.

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A Green Pidgeon,

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We discovered that Forumite "Cherries" and her SO were our next door neighbours so we introduced ourselves and chatted for a while before joining DaveJenny for a couple of drinks.

_________________
15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: More Days in Paradise (TR October/November 2011)
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 10:54 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 12 : November 9.

We left Shingwedzi for Satara as the sun came up and found some Baboons just outside the camp. I don't usually stop for these but they were posing so nicely and the light was nice.

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At Molopenyana a small herd of Buffs had come to drink.

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From the N'wamazi Lookout, about 70 Eles were visible in the Olifants river. (someone else was kind enough to have counted them)

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We stopped at Letaba for breakfast and I visited the museum go get a picture my Son asked for the last time we were in the KNP. Mandleve's tusks with SO for scale.

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and at Ngotso North an Ele was getting some relief from the heat.

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Near Ntomeni, three Lions were doing what Lions do best.

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In the afternoon, we drove along the H7 for a while then turned around and came back via Girivana (S12/S40). There was very little to see but this Red-Crested Korhaan gave us the first part of his mating display but he didn't do the "bag of washing thrown in the air" trick.

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Just before sunset I managed to get the Maribou Stork in golden light.

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More YRs!! We found Forumite Chip & SO on the road and said HI!

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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