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 Post subject: adw Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats Jan 2012
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:46 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
My trip started on Saturday 14/1/2012. Little did I realize this was going to be my most dramatic trip to Kruger ever. I arrived at Malelane gate at 06h00 and it was raining hard. I got soaked running the 20 odd metres to reception. As I drove up the H3 the intensity of the rain decreased and by the time I got to Afsaal the rain had stopped.
At Mathekenyane I decided to drive to the top as I have never done this before. A lovely view but I still prefer Nkumbe's view.
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No major sightings were encountered until I got to Kumana dam when I saw a traffic jam by the large Natal Mahogany just north of the dam. There they were, a pride of lions, consisting of males, females and cubs. I could not stay long enough to get a good photographic spot and as I wanted to set up camp, I took a couple of photos and left.
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I set up camp with the help of Samuel who could see I was struggling with my new caravan. Somebody once asked me to submit a photo of my camping setup. Well here it is. A lot smaller than my previous caravan but this one is much more versatile.
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After setting up camp and despite being very tired I made my traditional first day visit to the Bangu waterhole. North of Kumana dam was much drier than the south and Bangu was very dry. I was pleased to see one of the Bangu bulls arrive for a drink at the waterhole.
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On my way back on the S90 I came across this large herd of buffalo that had just crossed the road.
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The end of my first day and I slept like a log.

More to follow

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 Post subject: Re: Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats.
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2012 3:36 pm 
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Thanks LindaS for your kind comments. I agree Bangu can be quiet but I always enjoy my drive there. There is something about the road there and waterhole. I always make it my first afternoon drive.

Sunday 15/01/2012. Up early and at the gate just before opening. I decided I would travel south to the S125 and then onto the S36. I was privilidged to come across this special sighting. Ma Cheetah and her four sub-adult cubs. For her to get four cubs to this size is amazing. On top of that she has had to overcome a serious injury to her right rear leg.
Her she is with her four offspring
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In this photo two sub adults are playing.
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Here a sub adult takes a rest after some playing time.
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Ma Cheetah with her healthy side to me.
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Here Ma Cheetah presents her injured side to my camera. It was apparent that the injury was healing and she was able to walk without any hindrance. She also has a growth on her front right leg together with a small injury.
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Eventually she led her offspring into the thick bush. The surrounding area was definitely not ideal cheetah territory. But she was managing fine despite her injuries.

More to follow.

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 Post subject: Re: Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats.
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 8:45 am 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Wow. Great to have so many forumites on board. Thank you for all your kind comments, Salva, Sharifa, Bornfree, Shi, Pumbaa, LindaS, Heather100, Foxy, Flying Cheetah, Crested Barbet, Normana53, Daffy, and Duke Ellieton.

The wind was now beginning to pick up and I knew heavy rain would soon be on its way. After the Cheetah sighting I was on a high. I drove on to Vutomi Dam. It was almost 100% full. However apart from a few Hippos enjoying the vast expanse of water there was little activity.
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I drove on the S33 and decided to continue on the Trichardt road (S37). After travelling a couple of kms on the S37 I saw this young male lion step out of the long grass onto the road. The rest of the pride of 7 lions were lying in the long grass. The grass was so long you could hardly see them despite being right next to the road. A couple more cars arrived and on the narrow road it soon got crowded and the lions simply melted into the undergrowth not to be seen again. If this youngster had not stepped into the road I would have missed them.
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The S37 is a hit and miss road. This time it was producing hits and several jackals were sighted. Here is a youngster who was in a patch of short grass and relatively easy to photograph.
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Here a group of Wildebeest were enjoying the grasses alongside the Trichardt road.
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Further along the S37 I came across this male lion which was very far in. I have cropped this photo substantially and it was beginning to drizzle so not a good photograph.
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More to follow.

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 Post subject: Re: Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats.
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:26 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you Meandering Mouse, Bornfree, Flying Cheetah and LindaS for your kind comments.
The S37 I find is only worthwhile doing in the wet summer months when the grazers and bird flocks enjoy the good grazing and grass seeds respectively. This of course attracts the predators and raptors. During the dry winter months it is very desolate and I find myself only doing this route once!
MM I use a Nikon D700 body and 3 lenses namely 70-200mm F2.8 which is my favourite lens. Extremely versatile and focuses fast. For bird and long distance shots I use a 200-400mm F4 lens. The clarity on this lens is superb and also focuses fast but it is heavy and fairly unwieldy. Then for landscape shots and close-ups of Giraffes and Elephant I use my recent purchase a 24-85mm lens F2.8 This lens can also be used for macro shots. All lenses are Nikon lenses. I use 2 programmes for editing namely Photoshop and Micorosoft Digital Imaging. The former for more complicated editing and the latter for quick and minor editing.

On the afternoon of the 15/1/2012 I decided to travel up the H1-4. Just before the Nyamarhi waterhole the car behind me flashed his lights and indicated I should reverse back to him. He said there was a lion in the distant bush. Sure enough after scanning the bush with my binoculars there she was lying down. How he spotted her I do not know. Too far for a photo.
Just past the waterhole I came across this placid bull elephant grazing on the lush grasses or was he browsing on a small bush! You can see from the photo the wind was blowing strongly. So much so that is why I decided to drive on the tar road. The dust was filtering into my car on the dirt roads even with the windows closed.
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At the next intersection I turned onto the Timbavati road for a slow drive back to camp. At the Goedgegun waterhole there was a lot of general game around including Zebra, Wildebeest and Giraffe.
Here are some of the Zebra enjoying the ideal grazing condtions.
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The rest of the drive back was relatively quiet.

Monday 16/1/2012. The early morning drive to Vutomi was also quiet and no predators were sighted. Driving along the S33 I came across this pest of a plant. A prickly pear. I reported to the rangers who advised they do not cut them down as that simply encourages growth. They are trying to control the spread by means of imported beetles which feed on this plant.
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On my way back to camp I stopped at the Shimangwaneni dam and watched a group of 4 elephant bulls interacting in the water. Here are two of them enjoying in a bit of play-fighting. It was at this moment it started to rain heavily.
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On the Sweni road I witnessed an elephant bull charging a tourist jeep which roared off. As I stopped, the elephant turned its attention to my vehicle. A quick photo and I had to roar off as well. I don't know why but the elephants in the rain during this trip all appeared more aggressive.

More to follow.
Image

On the Sweni

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Rhino Poaching - Highlight's man's stupidity and greediness.


Last edited by adw on Wed Feb 08, 2012 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats.
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:47 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you Chip, LindaS, and Pumbaa for your kind comments.
Linda, when I arrived at Ngotso before the rains fell, the dam was bone dry. I have a photo of Ngotso after the rains which I will share with you later.

On the afternoon of the 16th I drove down the H1-3. It was raining steadily. Just past the Sweni river, the Sweni Pride were fairly far in and lying down in the wet grass. I estimated there were about 10 of them.
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Just a couple of hundred metres down the road these Zebras and Wildebeest were resting in the rain.
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This Vervet Monkey was photographed near Kumana dam. Totally drenched in the pouring rain.
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On my way back the Sweni pride where were I left them but due to closing time I could not stay long.

Tuesday 17th. It rained throughout the night. I decided to try the S125 to see if I could find a Leopard. No such luck. I did come across a small elephant herd and kept my distance. This cow made sure her herd crossed the road safely.
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Onto the S36 and no Cheetahs this time. I did photograph this chameleon as he gingerly crossed the road.
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Onto the S33 where I came across four young elephant bulls testing their strength against each other. As they were fairly far in I switched off my car and due to the rain only had my window open. Listening to the clash of tusks and the occasional trumpet was very entertaining. I took some photos but due to the thick bush not very good.
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I then decided to move on and as turned around to put my camera on the passenger seat my heart skipped a beat. This fifth bull had charged my car and stopped a couple of metres from my car. The engine was switched off so I thouht what the hell, take his photo. He then moved back as if to start another charge. I took my oppurtunity to start my car and get some distance between us. Here he is, taken through my closed passenger window.
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More to follow....

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 Post subject: Re: Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats.
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:23 am 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you for your kind comments, P@m, Avon Vosloo, Sharifa, Div, Shi, Rookie2009, Daffy, Zeelie, Lindas, Bornfree, and Crested Val. I appreciate having you all on board. :)

Tuesday 17/01. The rain continued to fall and although the animals were still around it was getting difficult to photograph them without getting your camera wet. This juvenile Bateleur was in the process of catching flying ants and was so pre-occupied I was able to get close enough for a photo. He was soaked.
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From this photo of a Saddle Bill you can see the rain was pouring down. The rain was creating ideal hunting grounds for the storks.
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On the afternoon of the 17th I decided to travel to the Bangu waterhole. This photo taken on the S90 shows a heavy rain cloud on the horizon which I estimated to be somewhere over the Timbavati river.
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This lone Wildebeest bull seemed to be enjoying the muddy conditions.
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The S90 can be on the quiet side but the grassland birds are prolfic. Here a Black Bellied Bustard struts his stuff.
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 Post subject: Re: Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats.
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:48 am 
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The causeway at the Bangu waterhole was starting to swell up. A sign of things to come.
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The Zebra were not enjoying the muddy conditions at all and wanted to stay on the firmer road surface. To get past them proved difficult as they kept running in front of my car. This photo was taken through my windscreen whilst travelling about 20 km/h. Eventually they moved off into the muddy field.
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Near the Mavumbye stream this large herd of buffalo also lined the road. It took me several minutes to drive through this herd stopping now and again to photograph some of them. By this time it was late in the evening and with the heavy overcast conditions the light was extremely poor.
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This young bull had an impressive set of horns.
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During the night it rained and rained and rained. My new caravan was being tested to the fullest and only in a few corners did some of the rain seep through. Fortunately the leaks did not get any worse and I was able to wipe the water away.

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 Post subject: Re: Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats.
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:05 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you for your kind comments, LindaS, Scipio, WendyA, Radman, Bush Babtist, Daffy,Sharifa and Vlakvarkvrou.
Wednesday 18/1/2012. A day I will never forget. I overslept and was awoken by the sound of helicopters taking off. They must have been very close. I realised For helicopters to take off in this weather something serious was happening.
As I left camp I saw the S100 had been closed. I drove down the H1-3 and at the Sweni river I noticed it was flowing very strongly but the S126 was also closed. As I drove on I came across a few new dams that had formed overnight. The S125 was also closed. Then I saw Kumana dam. The severity of the rain was then clearly apparent. Most of us know Kumana as, at best, a small dam, but normally a large mud pool.
The dam now stretched from the bend in the road for about a kilometre. I am not exaggerating.
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and onto the normal heart of the dam.
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Just past Kumana dam the Nwaswisontso river had burst it's banks.
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Although not officially closed the S86 was effectively closed.
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More of the river bursting its banks.
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Mazithi dam was also full.
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and just before Tshokwane the H1-3 came to a sudden end.
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Nothing else I could do but a U-turn.
On my way back I photographed the Sweni river in the better light.
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And the Nwanedzi river was also flowing strongly.
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Maybe all these flood photos have been seen before so I hope you find them interesting. All I can say is the power of water is frightening. The scenes were awesome but scary. I actually did not want to hang around the raging torrents as you just don't know if another wall of water was on its way. I returned to camp and informed reception the H1-3 was flooded.

More to follow....

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 Post subject: Re: Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats.
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:18 pm 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thank you for your kind comments, PetraJ Shi, Heather100, Daffy, Flying Cheetah, RuthP, P@m, LindaS and Meandering Mouse.

The afternoon of 18th I drove up the H1-4. This bull Elepant was photographed on the way. From his determined stride I quickly moved out of his way.
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LindaS you were asking about Ngotso dam. It was 100% full so much so the turning circle at the dam was partly under water as well.
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The Olifants river was also in full flow and was only now that it was reaching its peak. Some people wanted to cross the bridge but sanity prevailed and they turned around. These photos were taken through my windscreen because of the heavy rain.
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Image

I really thought the bridge was going to be washed away but it held firm.

More to follow....

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 Post subject: Re: Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats.
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:39 pm 
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Thursday 19th. The day after the storm. All the dirt roads remained closed and I decided to travel on the H1-3 and then on to the H10.
The Nwaswisontso level had dropped slightly but in certain areas the banks still overflowed.
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With all the devastation around this was the only case where I saw an animal suffer. This young calf had been separated from its mother. He latched on to this massive bull and was trying to feed from him. He seemed confused and kept pushing the youngster away. The squeals emanating from the youngster was very sad to hear. I never saw either elephant again and only hope he somehow joined up with his herd again but it was unlike.
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And off they trundled.
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This Secretary bird was soaked as he wandered through the wet grass.
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More evidence of the river beginning to subside. You can see where the floodmark reached.
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The road to Tshokwane was now open.
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More to follow.

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 Post subject: Re: Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats.
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 9:29 am 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
A big thank you to all of you for kind comments, LindaS, Flying Cheetah, Patries, Daffy, Chirinda, WendyA, Foxy,P@m, Elsa, Puppy, and Hilda.
In reply to some comments. P@m I am not sure if the elephant bull is a known tusker. I will check it out with Aat.
Patries, I felt sorry for anyone caught in the floods. I met a couple who had to spend one night in their car on the H1-2. Also I believe the helicopters had to rescue people from Roodewal camp. You were certainly in the thick of it.
Like all of you I also hoped the elephant calf would re-unite with his mother. Maybe some other female elephant would adopt him? We will never know.
Chirinda, I will post some of my flood photos on the flood thread.

I have a few more flood photos to share and then we can get onto the animal sightings which I must admit were scarce right after the floods.

The S34 was closed. The Rangers house is in the background. The riverbed is narrow here and of course Tshokwane was flooded.
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This photo was taken in the Tshokwane yard.
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And a few pics of Tshokwane after the flood.
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Most of the tables and chairs had been washed away.
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And the onto the bridge that crosses the Nwaswisontso river. Remember this photo was taken after the river had started to subside. When I took this photo I switched off my car. The bridge was trembling and the noise of the river hung in the air.
Image

More to follow....

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 Post subject: Re: Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats.
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2012 10:56 am 
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I turned onto the H10. I knew the low level bridge at Lower Sabie was closed so I was in for a quiet drive.
Of all the tar roads I travelled on after the floods this was the only patch damaged by the floods. This was on the H10 near the S32 turnoff where a small stream cross the road. One must give credit to the road makers and bridge builders of Kruger for being able to withstand flood waters of this magnitude. :clap: :clap: :clap:
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It was eerie travelling on the H10 being the only vehicle on the road. Here I came across an elephant bull feeding on a sickle bush. An unusual shot he looks like he has just sucked a lemon!
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Just before the S128 turnoff I came across a double sighting. Four Lion cubs on the right and two Elephant bulls on the left.
These four cubs were waiting patiently right next to the road waiting for their mother to return from a hunt. All in all I waited about 30 minutes for the adults to return but they did not turn up.
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These two bulls were play fighting but it was an uneven contest. You can guess who my money was on!
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We all love to apply human traits on animals. Here the larger bull decides he will fight fair and drops to his knees!
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I drove the entire length of the H10 but at the final intersection the road was closed so I was unable to photograph the Sabie river. On my way back the lion cubs were still there but no adults.

I stopped off at Nkumbe which seemed so peaceful.
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The most prolific animal on the H10 was the elephant. Here a small herd is enjoying the lush vegetation.
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Finally some Giraffe were seen on the H10 near the S32 turnoff. This was the quietest drive I have ever experienced the H10.
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More to follow.....

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 Post subject: Re: Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats.
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:25 am 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Thankyou for your kind comments, Chip, Hilda, WendyA, Flying Cheetah,Meandering Mouse, Foxy and Daffy.

Thursday 19/1 continued. Due to the wet conditions there was an abundance of insects particularly flying ants.
The raptors were having a field day. Here a Bateleur is crushing a termite in her beak. Those dots on her neck are workers from the nest trying to defend their nest.
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In the afternoon I drove to the Olifants bridge and this is what the bridge looked like after the flood.
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In this photo you can see the damage to the railings and armco barrier.
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The Timbavati road was open so I took the long way back to camp. The river was flowing strongly.
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The Ratelpan bird hide was also flooded at one stage.
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At the Ratelpan waterhole a Zebra carcass was being dismembered by dozens of Vultures.
This one is gliding in for the 'kill'.
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and the landing
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The Lappet-Faced Vulture was showing his dominance towards the other Vultures.
Image

More to follow....

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 Post subject: Re: Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats.
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:30 am 
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Award: Sighting of the Year - Non Predator Award: Travel Tale of the Year for KNP (2012)
Near Nsemani dam these two male Waterbuck were squaring up to each other, but apart from staring and snorting at each other, no clash of horns took place.
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Friday 20th. I drove on the S90 and came across two male lions fairly far in at a Wildebeest kill. This one was the most visible.
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The rest of the day proved relatively quiet. The animals appeared to be hiding from me. The level of the Nwaswisontso river had now dropped dramatically and was little more than a gentle flow.
Image

More to follow.....

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 Post subject: Re: Dust, wind, rain, floods, mud and cats.
Unread postPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 9:51 am 
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Thank you HarryS for your kind comments. Yes, it was an awesome spectacle and I although I experienced excitement I was also humbled at the raw power of nature.

Saturday 21st. Although the morning drive was relatively quiet as I drove on the S100 and then up the S41 onto the S90 and the Olifants low-level bridge I was able to get some worthwhile photos. These were my sightings.

I was watching a small group of Zebra when one suddenly decided it would be nice to get some mud on her back.
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This Bateleur was catching flying ants and I was able to get within two metres of her. She was very obliging and allowed me to take several photos of her. No doubt about it, my favourite bird.
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Towards the end of the S100 I came across a dead Elephant with dozens of Vultures in attendance. Sad to see the end of a giant, but that is the way of life.
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On the S90 I was driving fairly slowly when a raptor flew into a sickle bush right next to the road. By the time I stopped and reversed I thought the raptor would have flown off. To my surprise there were two raptors in the bush. I was able to take a reasonable photo and I have tentatively identified them as juvenile Gabar Goshawks. If I am wrong please let me know. Here is one of them.
Image

The Balule bridge was still completely under water. Also there was a massive sandbank covering the road.
Image

More to follow......

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