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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 2:24 pm 
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Location: The planning is on again.....
and we even were lucky that day as finally got a close up shot of the goliath heron

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and both of them brought another feathered friend with them as today also a black stork was trying to catch something fishy for late lunch.

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As this was the first black stork we saw this year it was obvious that we tried to capture same from all possible angles.....

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Love the way how the feathers do shimmer in the midday heat.

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The two herons and the black stork started again to block the causeway after we drove over same and turned our car around and switched the motor off to enjoy the scenery.

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Gladly at that time of the day we had the causeway once again to ourselves and after a most stunning stay we had to wave a final good-bye to one of the hidden gems in Kruger as there is always something feathered to be seen there.

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After that whole day in the car we drooled over some motion and so we walked a bit through camp. On the way to the look out over Pioneer dam close to the restaurant we spotted this little chap which was very well camouflaged in the shade.

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We enjoyed the view over the dam with a cool ice cream and finally investigated the shop which was very well stocked with meat and fresh vegetables which was not in every camp the fact.

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The rest of our afternoon we enjoyed on our verandah with reading until it was time for our dinner in the restaurant. With only a couple of tables occupied the restaurant was nearly empty which was in fact a pity as the food was more than delicious, rich and very lovely presented. One of the best restaurants if not the best in Kruger at that stage. Hopefully it remained offering food in such a high quality way.

With full stomach we walked back to our bungalow and nearly fell into bed knowing that we still have a couple of hours the next day until we had to leave this Paradise.

Sunday, 24. February, 2013 - Mopani - Punda Maria Gate

We awoke with the knowledge that these are now finally the last couple of hours in the park which is definitely not the best feeling. Anyway we could not change the situation and unfortunately all good things finally will come to an end. In the past years our last hours in the park were extreme quiet but this time we have been proved the contrary......

In order not to lose that much time we decided to skip a short morning visit at Tihongonyeni and drove straight on the tar road to Shingwedzi and decided later to maybe try a gravel road in case they were meanwhile open again after the flood.

First sighting was as yesterday our gorgeous hyena clan

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and it was once again a worth stop between all the cuties.

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All the pups paid a curious visit close to our car and it was once again time for some close ups

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although today not that much pups as yesterday were visible.

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We nearly had to force ourselves to leave them as there was still a long way to go to Punda Maria gate.

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Only later when we made a stop on the Shingwedzi high water bridge we noticed that part of the radiator grille from our car was missing so either we lost same during our stay in the park or the hyenas managed to obtain a new toy.

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Anyway next time when the cute pies are about to steel our hearts we simply had to keep also an eye onto the elderly pups or even adults.

Next sightings was another Wahlberg eagle although I would say it was the same we saw already yesterday morning but on another branch but nearly at the same spot.

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After another extensive photo shooting we simply had to say good bye and carried on, however,

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for a long long time we definitely did not see anything and got ahead quite quickly. The closer we came on the tar road the Shingwedzi river with the smaller loops the better the sightings got. We definitely had to stop for a noisy grey toko

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and a lovely pair of bateleurs on top of a treetop

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and within an acceptable distance our first elephant bull of the day.

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to be continued.....


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:21 pm 
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Further down we noticed already from far a parked car and in the distance something large on the street – two giraffe bulls in a fight – Needless to say that we also stopped and watched the spectacle

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a pity was the cloudy and overcast morning although temperaturewise extreme bearable but photographicwise it could have been far better.

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A couple of clicks and half an hour later they finally crossed fighting the street and same continued still on the other side of the road where a group of around eight giraffes were already waiting for them and I was extreme happy to finally get such a giraffe fix during our last hours.

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Then we had the luck in coming across another hyena – in this case it was a very alert adult, alert but definitely not that shy

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and in a fantastic shape.

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She disappeared close to the road side behind thick shrubbery and then we also could discover a head of a little pup not that small any longer as the ones earlier that morning but still small enough

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to cuddle with mom and after an extensive greeting the smaller one started to suckle and we were so happy to be part of such a tender moment between baby and mom although the view through the thick bushes was indeed more than limited.

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Meanwhile we could from time to time have a look into the Shingwedzi riverbed which was still having a lot of water in it and this year I simply had to stop and take a picture of the famous lala palms close to the camp itself.

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Strange was that all the smaller loops were in extreme good drivable and even the S101, although only a small loop, was open and so we took same and were soon rewarded with a colourful sighting of a lovely posing woodland kingfisher.

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All around this loop we came across large piles of debris on the road side so the water must have overflew this loop completely – What a scary feeling!

Nevertheless now besides the remaining debris nothing reminded any longer of the power of the water and also our woodie friend was in good mood and soon caught a large golden orb spider

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which gave him a little struggle

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in swallowing same.

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Finally the eight-legged creeper could no longer to be seen but funny was that around the bill of the woodland part of the spider web was still photogenic draped.

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Same sat so still that Timon could not stop pressing the button and I had again trouble in choosing my favourite pictures of this sighting.....

Shortly before we reached the Shingwedzi high water bridge a large herd of impalas together with some sporadic zebras could be seen as well.

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On the high water bridge itself we for sure left the car in order to stretch our legs a bit and to regret devotionally all the devastation in the riverbed itself with all the missing trees and remaining debris which could be seen

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into all directions and with still a lot of water left in the riverbed

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and even the tar road itself suffered under the water masses as the surface had already been put aside.

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Needless to say that we were extreme shocked to see the view from the bridge so airy with all the missing trees and bushes although we were already curious to know how the view will be in exactly one year, well now in only a couple of weeks

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Besides the shocking view there was indeed a bit animal activity to be seen first we spotted a very well camouflaged Wahlberg eagle sitting right in the riverbed

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to be continued with an animal we never saw before in Kruger......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 2:43 pm 
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Location: The planning is on again.....
and then we were horrified by some rustling bushes extreme close by and somehow extreme easygoing a buffalo popped out of the thick bushes (there were indeed some left!) and made his way from the road level

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into the riverbed. He stopped from time to time in order to taste some juicy leaves and finally chose a remaining puddle and settled for the rest of the day.

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We allowed us an half an hour stay on the bridge and then carried on and as we were still on schedule we decided to try as well the S55 as this was also one of the few gravel roads which were open. Gladly the huge grumpy elephant bulls stayed away today but we got to see a group of four teenie ostriches right in front of our car and same positioned themselves that they were able to watch into all directions – the looked indeed like a bouquet of flowers!

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Then we must have chased them up as they started to run in front of our car one after the other excitedly – Simply follow the leader!

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Finally the leader decided to leave the road in order to breathe a bit and to recover from the running excursion – at least we could once again admire them.

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Our beloved Mphongololo loop was unfortunately still closed and with a weeping eye we had to carry on onto the tar road. This gravel road is normally a must drive for us on our way out of the park but things definitely could not be changed but I will call it once again destiny or you can call it as well compensation or simply pure luck as we came across a sighting of animals which we never saw ever before in Kruger.....but later more.

First the tar still led along the Mphongololo riverbed and same looked nearly the same as the Shingwedzi riverbed. Lots of missing trees and debris high up to the roadside.

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Also here on the tar road itself lots of potholes and partly the road surface also was missing completely but there was indeed roadwork executed on a Sunday as roadmen were busy in asphalting the road and even a kudu on the other side of the riverbed did not get disturbed by them.

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Also a group of ground hornbills in a large tree which gladly survived the flood could be seen but unfortunately too far away for some close ups but there were still many more birds to be admired for example this cute European swallow.

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Shortly before a bridge was crossing a smaller stream we could once again observe the behaviour of a side-winged widowbird when a female flew by

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and there on a grassy area many of them could be seen as black dots glued onto blades of grass nearly as the red ones. Needless to say that it was once again difficult to drag Timon away from this sighting as there was still a long way lying ahead of us

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but not only the concern in reaching our accommodation for that night not that late but also due to the fact that only a couple of meters ahead large groups of zebras, wildebeests and impalas where crossing the street and they already had left their marks in form of a path out of mud right on the road but that in fact did not made me nervous but the fact that for such usual suspects a lot of cars stopped and the passengers seemed to appear quite surprised and from where we stood photographing the wide-winged widowbirds I could realize between the thick bushes that the impalas that far North do indeed have a different coloured fur a bit lighter and a bit like the colour of a lion so I urged Timon to take a quick look and if there is nothing else to be seen we first can return to his birds and admire a bit later the zebras. Now you can imagine our faces when we drove over the bridge and looked behind the thick bushes into the curious looking faces of our very first Kruger elands!

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and even not only one but an extreme large herd - WoW - What a farewell gift that was

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and for sure our ever best eland sighting we had so far!

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That for sure was definitely not that difficult to decide as we so far only spotted twice elands - On our first trip to South Africa we spotted them in Addo - Totally three together and really far too far away

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and then we had a couple of sporadic sightings in Augrabies but none so far in Kruger and now we were facing a whole herd of around 30 animals - What a highlight!

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Same was located close to Nkulumbeni South and although we normally drove a detour when riding on the Mphongololo loop to Boyela to finally be lucky in finding some roan we now found elands so finally all our efforts paid somehow off.

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to be continued.with a couple of more eland impressions......


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:55 pm 
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The only disadvantage was - as if this sighting is not yet enough I know - that we had only blocked visibility onto these beautiful animals as we had first to find a gap between the thick bushes but I guess we hit the jackpot.

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The zebras, wildebeests and impalas which also were plentiful around the elands were a bit disappointed that we only had eyes for the elands but I guess they forgave us as we normally always do stop for them although we saw already hundreds of them during the day.

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Finally we found a suitable place between the bushes and now we had only to wait for the elands to walk from left to right or right to left.

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They really came by and were extreme curious and we were simply far too happy that we finally messed up with the idea of an early afternoon at our accommodation outside the park

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it was the now and here which counted in these minutes and so we decided to stay as long as possible with them as nobody knows when you might see them again.

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A funny incident happened when an impala decided to do some urgent things right in front of the elands -

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Can you see how some of the elands wrinkled their noses in the background - Needless to say that they were obviously not amused about such a rude behaviour!

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It was simply an awesome sighting and can you imagine how we wished that we might stay in Shingwedzi that night so that we might could return back to them a bit later that day.

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We also tried a bit further North to get a better view onto them but as so many roads that far North the S53 was closed as well as we could imagine that from that short loop we would have had the best view onto them.

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Gladly now some smaller calves showed up as well so we got to see them all, impressive males, beautiful females and cute calves and between them all a large number of yellow billed oxpeckers flew around playing changing eland.

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We already stayed with them for around one hour and with only a couple of very few other cars stopping for a short time we nearly had the elands all to ourselves. Their migration in that area come to a standstill and more and more elands made themselves comfortable and lay down on the ground under or even in bushes

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and made a little nap.

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Therefore the zebras got more and more active and one of them was running around all the animals like made and raised a lot of dust.

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Carmine bee eaters were also all around and we once again had a great time in simply watch and let the animals come by themselves.

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Meanwhile all elands settled for the day and with more than heavy hearts we left them but you can be rest assured shortly when staying in Shingwezi will be once again on the look out for them.

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Finally we continued our way on the tar road knowing that the Punda Maria Gate is coming inevitable closer but for sure we allowed us some quick stops for our feathered friends, a lovely posing laughing dove

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and for this wattled starling

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to be continued.with the final Episode - Finally.... :whistle:


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 Post subject: Re: Joyride with the Bateleurs
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 10:13 pm 
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Location: The planning is on again.....
At Boyela we found a couple of vultures sitting on the ground and more ground hornbills in a tree - This was a large family with a couple of youngsters between them.

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Then it was time for s short break at Babalala - I simply love that large tree with all the noisy birdies in it and it got harder and harder to say good bye the closer we got to the exit. Back on the tar road we finally spotted something chunky running or better to say rolling over the street and it looked really like a wombat when we reached the position where we thought the wombat disappeared Timon stopped and after a couple of minutes in struggling to really spot something Timon said look at the Sharpe's grybok - so our wombat finally turned into a Sharpe's - a bit disappointed I was because same was so very well hidden and camouflaged that it was needless to take any picture at least we got to see one. We took the S58 and stopped for another giraffe

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and for this elephant as when the exit is coming closer you simply had to stop for everything.

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Finally we nearly reached Punda Maria but we definitely could not leave the park without driving the Mahonie loop so another 26 kilometers last respite could not be refused.

We normally drive same always clockwise to finally allow a last ice cream at Punda Maria and so we did today. Right in the beginning we spotted another black stork resting in a tree on only one leg

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and another calling woodie made us sigh again but around the next corner still hidden by the high grass another Sharpe's grybok appeared this time is was a shy female

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and so Timon immediately switched the engine off and we stay as quiet as possible

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but she was really not sure if she could dare to cross the street or not - Gladly she finally decided she could dare and walk extreme slowly to the other side of the road.

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Timon was busy in pressing the button and I prayed that no other car might show up at least as long as she is visible

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but we had luck we had her all to ourselves and nobody chased her away she simply disappeared behind the carpet of high green grass the way she appeared.

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Kudus are antelopes which do occur quite often on that road - pity was that we just missed this group.

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A funny sighting was this young impala ram on a sandy hill on the look out

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Then Timon said normally the nyalas must appear also soon and he could not end the sentence as a small group already awaited us around the next corner.

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I told him to do this sort of magic during the next trip also with a leopard and a serval - We will see!

Although he was still not yet completely fully grown we could not turn our eyes off him as nyala males are really one of the most beautiful animals on earth - Great that we finally found him and even so close

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pity was that his ladies stayed a bit too far away hidden behind bushes.

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What a great ride it was once again on one of our favourite roads and gladly same had only be re-opened shortly after the floods but the workers / graders did indeed a great job. Finally we spotted another group of kudus and compared to other part of the parks on this road they are always so relaxed.

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This family had a very curiously watching us youngster between them - It looks the ears were already fully grown but no yet the rest

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and besides Mr. kudu and the smaller one lots of females could be seen as well.

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Yummy!

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As so often the last animal we saw on that road and during our stay in 2013 were kudus.

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and when there are no more animals to be captured we had to stop for some plants and bushes

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which are so plentiful on this awesome loop.

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We ended our stay with a final ice cream at Punda Maria and were still very quiet when we existed but we already were looking forward to our next year's stay which is now only a couple of hours away.

Finally the end.....


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