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 Post subject: Re: Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:10 pm 
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We proceeded to Bobbejaanskraans lookout where we met our first and only mite for the trip :dance: :dance: :dance: . Even though he wasn't flying a YR :naughty: :rtm: he recognised ours and we chatted a bit while he ate his cereal. I was so excited about meeting another mite, I forgot to ask him his name :redface: :redface: both real and forum :redface: :wall: . To the cereal eating mite on his last morning drive, it was nice to meet you :mrgreen: :mrgreen: I hope you made it home safely :pray: . The only other sign of life was this fearless hornbill

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who gave me a coy look before flying away 8) . Continuing to Orpen, we saw this regal brown fish eagle

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balancing atop a tree and our first ground hornbill

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well camouflaged in the bush. This wartie

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entertained us for a while with it's eating antics. He made me wonder whether I'd ever achieve such a superb downward facing dog (yoga pose in case you're wondering :whistle: :whistle: ) And just before Orpen, these two distant black backed jackals

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one chilling in the shade, the other atempting to diasappear behind a log Image . Happy with our sightings thus far, we drove into Orpen for something to drink and to freshen up before heading back to Satara for lunch :mrgreen: .

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 Post subject: Re: Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:15 pm 
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We entered Orpen to freshen up and have some of their lekker coffee and slushies :mrgreen: :mrgreen: and to see if anything was moving at the watering hole. The thing about restcamps is that if you spend a little while there and keep your eyes open :big_eyes: there's always something interesting to see. Like this rufous lark

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who gave me a solid shouting for almost walking into him :rtm: :naughty: :doh: , and this skull

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with I can't remember what :hmz: growing out of it

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forming part of our African heritage :mrgreen:

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At the watering hole, one of the resident geese completely ignored us

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while my first scimitarbilled woodhoopoe

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chilled in a tree above us. Finishing off our drinks, we were ready to set off and I took my turn in the driver's seat Image. The drive back was relatively quiet as the heat made everyone a little drowsy Image, so it was with great excitement :dance: :dance: that I stopped for this forktailed drongo

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who obliged me, by doing a side wing stretch (new yoga move for those interested in this form of PESETA :lol: :lol: )

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before flying off. Next up, a loving steenbokkie couple Image

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taking shelter from the increasing heat, followed by some impressive kudu-horns

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for the no kudu-horners :wink: :wink: and a seemingly melancholy zebbster, whose mood required no colour,

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contemplating a road-crossing. We were about to turn onto the H1-3 back to Satara, when a car flagged us down and told us about a herd of about 60 bathing ellies :dance: :dance: so we turned in the opposite direction to enjoy some 8) water sports before heading back. There was quite a roadblock at the sighting so I waited my turn before finding a decent spot, but the close proximity of the other cars made me nervous Image and since I am not the best of drivers :redface: I relinquished the driver's seat to my mum :whistle: and sat back to enjoy some ellie fun :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

These guys were already in the water

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with one rascal attempting to dunk the others Image

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and Image

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Image. The other ellies saw how much of fun these guys were having, and ran to join them

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having a bit of a drink

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before swarming en-massse into the cooling water

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where this little one

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could hadly stand :big_eyes: . By now we were wishing we could jump off the bridge and join them and someone (I won't name names :rtm: :naughty: ) had forgotten to use the Orpen restroom before leaving, so we turned around and headed back to camp to cool off and fill our tummies before heading out for afternoon drive on one of our favourite roads in the park, th S100 :dance: :dance: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 21, 2012 7:01 pm 
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We had quick lunch and chilled for a bit before buying some ice cream Image and heading to the S100 for an afternoon drive :dance:

Now for some this road is as dry as the desert sands Image for others it's a headache of constant trafffic jams Image For us it's always lion lucky Image So without further ado 8) , the handsome sleepyheads we shared with only one other car for at least half an hour

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There were 5 lazy males not far from the road :mrgreen: but passed out in the shade :roll: and we sat there for a long time just taking in their occasional movements till this gorgeous feller

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lifted his head to look at the rapt audience :big_eyes: before tossing it

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to convey his extreme disinterest :| and possible boredom :roll: He then leisurely lay his head back down

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for an extended snooze :sleep: . We were over the moon :dance: and thoroughly satisfied with both the road and our afternoons sighting. With contentment in our hearts we continued on to Gudzani dam where only this morning some extremely fortunate people had witnessed the mega pride take down a waterbuck :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes: On the way there we saw this strapping saddle billed stork

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with mischievous eyes Image. When we got to the dam we searched high and low Image :big_eyes: for lions, a kill, vultures, scavengers or any sign of a kill. I even stuck my nose a little way out the window to try and get a whiff, but in the couple of hours between the morning's excitement and our arrival, all signs of the action, which had supposedly taken place in full view of all the cars, had disappeared :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes: It made us wonder if maybe someone had stretched the truth :hmz:

Since there was still time, we decided to head for the Sweni bird hide. We saw this sadlle billed stork staring intently at the water

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waiting for a snack to have with afternoon tea and these three compadres

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chilling on a rock Image. :hmz: I've never stopped to consider whether or not tortoises can swim :big_eyes: This guy

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lay this question to rest :shock: as the only access to that rock was through the water :hmz: You learn the most amazing things when you least expect it :big_eyes: :mrgreen:

We left our reptilian friends to their sunning and continued along our way :whistle: merrily at our good fortune when lady luck sprinkled us once more :mrgreen: .............

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 Post subject: Re: Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2012 3:52 pm 
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We were heading for the Sweni bird hide when we saw a car parked in the distance, and this time it was not at all difficult to locate what they were looking at, for lying right next to the road were these two gorgeous love birds

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They were a little sleepy and appeared quite worn out from recent....ahem.....activities :redface: but we found a good spot and switched off, hoping they'd consider giving us a bit of a show :redface: This studly male started off wit a huge yawn

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followed by a snarl

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and a licking of lips

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His paramour then rolled over


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sat up and gave an even bigger yawn

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and attempted to imitate his attractive lip lick

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Image . They then gave us a "well you asked for it" look


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before the manly man got up and gave her a sniff

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recieving a nuzzle for his efforts

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followed by a snap at his chops

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making him reconsider his proposition, and turn away :big_eyes: :big_eyes: . The female, seemingly unimpressed with his approach, got up

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to move away from him, but he gave us a sly grin

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as if to say "gotcha, thought you were gonna get lucky didya" :lol: :lol: and she decided to stick around, laying down beside him

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as only two lions in love can Image. By now it was getting late, and we had to get a move on to make it back to camp on time. So we bid these lovers farewell Image wishing them many cubs in the near future, and headed off to the bird hide, ecstatic with our afternoons sightings :dance: :dance: :dance: .

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 Post subject: Re: Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 7:42 pm 
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We reluctantly left the honeymoon couple, ecstatic over the sighting, but wishing we had more time to spare. A couple of meters down the road we found bits of this

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strewn across the road. Seems the honeymoon couple had feasted well before their wedding night 8) 8) . A quick stop at Nwanetsi picnic spot yielded us some well hidden bats

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and then it was off to Sweni hide to view some birdies in the late afternoon light :dance: . It seems this is the bachelors hangout as most of the birdies were single. First up, a yellow billed stork

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all by himself, a lonesome hippster

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an African jacana

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walking on water :big_eyes: a brownhooded kingfisher

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just chilling next to the hide, a grey heron

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just taking in the sights, a threebanded sandplover :dance: :dance:

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partaking of the liquid refreshment :wink: an egyptian goose

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helping himself to the food provided and an african spoonbill

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in possession of an impressive backscratcher. With these sightings planted firmly in our minds, it was time to leave the hide and hasten back to camp. We held on to our caps as my brother in law put the pedal to the metal and reached a hair mussing 40 km/h Image in order to get us back in time. Along the way we had a race with this guy

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(our first and only leopard torti of the trip :big_eyes: ) it was a close call Image but due to the absence of some of his racing stripes (or rather spots :hmz: or rosettas) we managed to outspeed him in our haste to not be fined. We off course had to stop for a pic of the gorgeous sunset

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with indescribable colours

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even if it cost us :redface: :redface: and just as we reached the gate with minutes to spare (two minutes to be precise) this guy ran across the road and into the bush

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An awesome end to an amazing, fineless, afternoon drive, but not our last sighting by far for the day :dance: :dance: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:36 pm 
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My younger brother has a fascination with predators, both big and small and this includes the nocturnal ones. Top of his wishlist were cats like genets, civets, servals and caracals and so with this in ind we'd booked a night drive for that night :pray: that he'd see at least one of these. We had a quick supper then set off for the meeting area dealing quickly with the paperwork then leaving camp in the open bakkies to see what we could see. Being a charmer, my younger brother managed to wrangle the passengers seat next to the driver for himself :roll: :roll: :roll: It was a mixed and very excited group that set of that night, making new friends and chatting quietly among ourselves as the spot lights were swept up and down the bush looking for the glint of predatory eyes in the darkness. We've been on many night drives, but one never tires of being in the midst of the night noises, feeling the breeze and smelling the unique scent of the bush it brings with it. At night the bush is like another world, the silence broken by the ocassionl grunt, buzz, squeak or roar. On this night wed were lucky as our first sighting was among th feline my brother wished to see, an african civet

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we spent quite a while with this amazing creature, and while it wasn't close enough for clear :cam: it was close enough to see clearly and we watched it snuffle around before heading off into the bush. Our next sighting was a common one around satara, a hynie

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loping along the road. The guide was very informative and told us that its small size indicated that it was in fact male :big_eyes: :big_eyes: Which made me realise that I had subscribed to the stereotype that the male of a species was always larger :doh: :slap: :wall: . We headed down the s100 :tongue: and the 5 males we'd seen earlier had deigned to move :roll: and now lay right next to the road :dance: :big_eyes: Sleepy

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Grumpy

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Bashful and playful

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and Handsome Image

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After spending some time at this amazing sighting we headed off once more. The moon shone gorgeously on us

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and I knew the night had more in store for us. It was almost time to head back to camp when once more we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with felines, only this time they were of the feminine and juvenile variety :dance: This lil lady lapped delicately at the water

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while these three mischief makers

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chilled nearby, probably skinnering about these two

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who had formed there own little club :naughty: . This feirce lady

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was munching on some leftovers (the crunch crunch of the bones in the quiet night was eerie :shock:) while the last of the visible females calmly cleaned herself

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in 8) way. Totally content with the nights sightings, and too excited to be sleepy, we headed back to camp where this guy

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bid us farewell Image before we all head off to our respective beds eagerly awaiting the new day :mrgreen: .

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 Post subject: Re: Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2013 6:24 pm 
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Without further delay let us continue with our journey Image

To recap, we had just returned from a superbious, lion filled night and were on our way to :sleep: , but by the time we actually got to bed, it was after midnight and so it was decided that the next morning we would sleep in. I, however, had other plans 8) 8) . As kids we had spent hours exploring every inch of the camps and thus far I'd had little chance to just wander around and take in the camp atmosphere, especially in the morning when the camp is just coming to life Image . So by 5:30 am I was up with the birds and ready to take everything in. My younger brother wasn't far behind me and together we set off to find some birds and beasties. Top of our list this morning was...... Sweety, the elusive honey badger Image . We had barely taken two steps when a new birdsong filled the air Image distracting us from our task and sending us on a new mission Image. For the next half an hour we doggedly followed the sound, searching high and low, catching the occasional glimpse of yellow and orange. We were like sailors being lured by a sirens call, until finally this siren took pity on us and paused for a few heartbeats, just long enough for

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Image :dance: :dance: A grey headed bush shrike, another first and well worth a half an hour of sneaking around and crouching behind bushes. We were just congratulating ourselves on our perseverence, when I saw movement from the corner of my eye and I heard my brother utter two words that were music to my ears Image If we thought the bush shrike was fast we had another thing coming. This guy was motoring, and he didn't stop for a second!!! I managed to get three :cam: while following him at a safe distance while he made a beeline straight out the fence, although we lost him for the few minutes between when he was in the camp and when he was outside the fence and so his exit route remained a mystery Image. Presenting Sweety the fleetest badger on foot

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After these two exciting sightings we were content with our mornings walk and I decided to take a :cam: or two of the more regular visitors

a Grey Loerie

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a Red Billed Hornbill

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a Swift

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and the Greyheaded Bush shrike

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singing happily in the early morning sun. I'd just crouched under a tree to take this :cam: of this (Agama?)

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when I heard my brother whisper shout " watch o......" before he could finish I felt something drop onto my head :big_eyes: :big_eyes: Instead of reaching up to feel what it was I looked up into the tree with a sinking feeling, hoping I'd guessed incorrectly about the nature of the UFO that had landed on my head, but alas there above me, shrieking with laughter before flying away, was the starling who'd dropped a bomb on my head Image After contemplating the situation for a minute, I decided to take the "heaven sent blessing approach" i.e anything that comes from above is sent from heaven and therefore a blessing :tongue: and I was waiting to see if this blessing would bring more birdy luck during the day. I calmly took one more :cam:

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before heading in to have an extremely thorough shower :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:27 pm 
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Thanks Kallis.

And onwards we go :mrgreen: After a blessed morning 8) we packed up and headed North to Letaba. Our first bit of birdy luck came in the form of this speedy little (black bellied?) korhaan

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who kept zipping behind bushes :wall: barely giving me a chance to get a :cam:. Now we had planned our route carefully the night before to avoid the bridge which was still under construction, but as we (codeword for I :redface: ) drove along we completely forgot about the construction and took the wrong route :slap: Off course I loftily told everyone that I'd done it on purpose so I could get a look at the progress and took a :cam: to prove my point

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After spending a while discussing the construction, we turned around and headed back to go the long way around.We hadn't gone far when we were once again blessed with some birdy luck, this time in the form of a pair of (tawny?) eagles feeding off a hidden carcass. We parked off a while to enjoy the interaction.

The majestic male

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the gorgeous female with a crop that looked like it was about to explode :big_eyes:

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the awwwwwww moment where the guy rips out a chunk of flesh

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and feeds it to his SO Image

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We couldn't catch a glimpse of the chicks we were sure were in the nest, but we sat for a long time and marvelled at the beauty of the moment and it reminded us that even a creature as fierce and powerful as an eagle, has a softer, more caring side :D at least that's what I'd like to believe :tongue: :tongue:

A quick stop on the (correct :roll: ) bridge yielded a breathtaking view

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and some cute hippsters

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It was then on to Olifants for a quick stop and some much needed shade and ice cream as the heat was blistering Image.

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 Post subject: Re: Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Unread postPosted: Sun May 05, 2013 8:04 pm 
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Hi mites. Before my tr's cleaned up and locked I just want to extend a heartfelt thanks to all of you for reading my tr and for all the compliments and encouragement :mrgreen: :gflower: :gflower: :gflower: . I'd also like to post a couple of pics from the last 2 days in the park. So after a lengthy delay :redface: :redface: a short and sweet end with the highlights from the end of the trip.

A quick stop at Letaba to escape the heat yielded some pesky red-winged starlings

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and another first for me, a scarlet chested sunbird

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Then it was off North once more. The further North we got the drier and hotter it seemed to get, and aside from a birdy or two we saw nothing more before we reached Letaba. Now if you've stayed at Letaba, you know that the campsite is teeming with wildlife, from scrub hares

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to monitor lizards

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to adorable monkeys

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who were shocked to see a crazy person outside in the blazing heat :roll: and off course the famous bushbuck

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There's also a variety of birds and we added a Natal Robin

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and woody woodpecker

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who played the role of our morning wake up call, to our list. We were booked to spend two nights at Letaba before heading back to Satara but the heat drove us to change our plans and so after a quick stop at the elephant museum

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we headed back to Satara a day early.

Hopefully the remaining two episodes will be posted as soon as I get some free time :pray: :pray:

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 Post subject: Re: Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Unread postPosted: Mon May 06, 2013 10:07 pm 
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Thanks Trrp and Hilda :gflower:

The drive back to Satara proved more fruitful than the drive down starting with a "you just missed sighting" well known to most Kruger goers. We'd just passed the Olifants turn off when we saw a congregation of cars that usually signals a predator sighting. We followed protocol scanning the area people were looking at when our eyes fell on this fella sharing some love with his lunch

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We were of course then informed that we'd just missed a fight between this guy and his spotted nemesis (leopard), which this jaw-locking hynie won, taking all the credit for the leppies hard work :rtm: . We stuck around for a while hoping for the leopard to return and reclaim his lost meal, but it was midday and we were cooking in the heat, so we headed back to Olifants for refreshments before doing one more search for the leopard on our way to Satara. At Olifants this bushbaby

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gazed sleepily at us while we slurped ice cold fast melting ice creams :mrgreen: . Refreshed we returned to the car to search anew, not expecting much, but hoping against all odds to catch a glimpse of the hungry leopard. We were cruising along when lo and behold :sup:

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We were ecstatic :dance: :dance: , and though we couldn't spend much time here as we still had a ways to go, we enjoyed every minute of our time with this beauty. A quick stop on the bridge yielded a gorgeous pied kingie

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followed by a majestic bateleur

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partaking of a tepid refreshment :tongue: . While a nearby vulture enjoyed the blistering sun

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Further along the N1 some buddies enjoyed the roadside mud

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and a distant secretary bird

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searched for some slithering supper 8) . Reaching our destination didn't put an end to the sightings and this birdy enjoying the afternoon sun, just begged to be shared

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as did this thirsty scamp

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Even though it was quite late, we managed to secure an excellent campsite right next to the fence

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from where we enjoyed the night sights and sounds, including a hungry hynie and glowing cat's eyes, not realising that the next day would bring only a few, but amazing sightings including the highlight of my trip :sleep: .

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 Post subject: Re: Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Unread postPosted: Tue May 07, 2013 10:02 pm 
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Friday was our last full day in the park and the morning dawned bright and lovely. We decided to take a leisurely morning drive before returning to camp to spend some quality family time together. The morning started off relatively quiet with some general game sightings, then proceeded to rapidly heat up when my sister saw a stalking lioness deep in the bushes. Since the lioness was heading in the opposite direction to us, reverse was engaged and off we went. Unfortunately my sister was the only one to actually see the lioness, however her presence was punctuated by a stampeding herd of kudu crossing right behind the car. Brakes were applied and as we waited for the dust to settle we were bestowed with an amazing sighting, a family of antelope we hadn't seen for a long time :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

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SABLE :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: They crossed the road and headed into the bushes on the opposite side of the road in under 3 minutes, but those 3 minutes were well worth the hot drive. The sable were quickly followed by a handsome jackal

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who disappeared just as quickly as he'd appeared. Now for most Kruger goers, the highlight of their trip somehow involves a predator, either a cat or a doggie. For me, the highlight of my trip involved this gorgeous birdy

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Now ground hornbills are aptly named. I've never seen a ground hornbill in a tree or anywhere above ground, for that matter. So when we stopped to watch a group of these birdies forage, I didn't expect anything extraordinary...............until they launched themselves into the air :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes: . The sight stunned me and left me breathless, I'm surprised I even managed to get a couple of :cam: before they disappeared. I know some may think it's weird that I consider this to be the highlight of my trip when we'd seen some gorgeous kitties, but the excitement of seeing some new and totally unexpected sight is inexplicable :big_eyes: :big_eyes: And drumroll ....... Image

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Image

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I didn't even know they had white feathers!!! :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes: This sighting took my trip from fantabulous to super-duper-amazingly-fantabulous and to end a superbious morning, a sleepy spotty

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and rhonnie

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followed by a chilled family afternoon 8) and another amazing African sunset

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Last episode of our drive out of the park will hopefully :pray: be uploaded tomorrow. :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Sleepyowl: Absence makes the heart grow fonder: KNP Oct '12
Unread postPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 10:20 pm 
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barryels wrote:
Great to be able to close the day's sightings with leppie and rhino and a beautiful sunset


If only everyday could end like that 8) 8)

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 Post subject: Re: Absence makes the heart grow fonder
Unread postPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 10:42 pm 
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The day you leave the park, you feel like you're about to lose a vital organ or a limb :cry: :cry: :cry: , but knowing that anything is possible puts a temporary smile on your face :) , as does the enjoyment of your last African sunrise (and my favourite :cam: from the trip)

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We had a long trip ahead of us so we set out early, making the most of our last moments in the park and indulging all our senses in the atmosphere unique to Kruger. The first of our last sightings was heart warming, and we took the time to enjoy a mommy hyaena feeding her adorable cubs, next to the road, in the early morning light

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Next up, was a fine specimen of a birdy we saw more time than expected, a burchell's coucal

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sunning himself on a bare tree. Taking the baobab detour

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in the hopes of seeing the resident leppie, provided us with evidence of his last week's feast, but not the feaster himself

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Next up was a family of banded mongoose going about their daily business and making it extremely difficult to get a semi-decent :cam: of them :roll:

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Is there any bird more regal than an eagle? This Wahlbergs eagle seemed to be saying "bow before me you puny humans" or at least in my head he did :redface: :redface:

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Watching this mom dive bomb her teenager was spectacular and reminded me that we're not the only one's around with complicated family relations :roll: :whistle:

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And as we neared the crocodile bridge gate, this lbr looked at us quizzically as if to say "Only an idiot leaves this paradise, turn around while you still can"

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A reliable zebbie came to bid us farewell,

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and we paused to prolong our time in the home of our hearts, but the end was in sight

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and with misty eyes and choked up throats we left the park, gazing back longingly, hopeful that we'd be back and knowing that our Absence would only make our hearts grow fonder.

_________________
Absence sharpens love; presence strengthens it.

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