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 Post subject: Bush Baptist's Leopards please.....KTP March 2013
Unread postPosted: Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:56 pm 
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It is almost time.

I have started to assemble the sightings booklet.
The menu will be planned tonight.
The yellow and red ribbons will be taken out.
The fire engine has been serviced.
The camera batteries are being charged.
The tablet has been bought and the Sasol bird package downloaded.
I have played with it and know how to phish! :dance:
Gadgets and clothes are being packed.
Water bottles are being filled.
KG has been alerted.

All we need now is for my son and his wife to arrive from UK on Sunday.
Buy the food.
Pack the car.

Hey leopards, BB is coming!

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 Post subject: Re: Leopards please.....
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2013 1:31 pm 
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Thanks all y'all!

Last weeknd I was preoccupied with the Argus tour - my wife completed no 23 - and on Monday our thoughts turned to this trip.

I was a bit concerned that I was not excited yet. Also having been to the parks many times before, I know you cannot dictate on sightings. The parks are like tempestuous women. They reveal to you what they wish. But having prepared the booklet and received the leopard hotspot report from Wanderw, my wife's cousin, the excitement has arrived in full power.

Show us your finest KTP!

Hurry up Rick & Wendy, get on that plane!

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 Post subject: Re: Leopards please.....
Unread postPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:20 pm 
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Thank you one and all for your good wishes.

The family has arrived.

The braai has been braaied.

We are off to bed to get an hour or 2 sleep then we go!

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 Post subject: Re: Leopards please.....
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 28, 2013 2:50 pm 
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Thank you for all your good travelling wishes.

They were granted. The fire engine is back home, washed and ready again.

Tomorrow my son and DIL return from the in laws until the end of their stay here on Thursday, so we will sort out some pics. I have started the text, so sometime during the weekend we will be ready to roll.

Don't wander off too far....... :whistle:

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 Post subject: Re: Leopards please.....
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 29, 2013 11:35 am 
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Your patience won't be tried LQ.

Here we go Hilda, hang on.

Monday

My daughter in law asked if they could ‘lie in’ until 4am. Because she and my son had spent 23 hours in transit ending 6 hours before bedtime and would sit in the car for a 1050 km journey, I graciously acceded to her wish.

After a 4h45 start, the pilgrimage north from the Cape had gone well, in fact too well, as we encountered the first of about 20 stop/go road works irritations on the N7 just outside Vanrhynsdorp. :wall: The N7 in the Olifants River valley is being radically upgraded, but we didn’t have to stop there. Right up the R27 to the outskirts of Upington it was stop/go, but fortunately more go than stop. At one stop before it got too hot, I was able to ID a pair of Karoo scrub robins.

We lunched in the parking area of a popular forumite stopover in Keimoes , which has springbok and what looked like an enormous bush pig in its grounds and I saw a pair of white faced ducks, hoopoe, red-eyed bulbul and Karoo thrush among other birds while we were there.

Having filled the fire engine and replenished the drinks in Upington, we ate up the R360 and arrived at Twee Rivieren at 17h15 and were through reception in time for a little drive. :dance:

A few of the usual springbok, gnu, mongoose, ground squirrels, steenbok and oryx were there to greet us and not far after the confluence, we saw a traffic jam – about 5 cars. As closed in, we caught a glimpse of something move into the bush and over the dune. “What are you looking at?” “Rooikat” (Caracal). It never reappeared. :doh: Oh well, as you all know, timing is everything.

Image

Image

Image

While the women prepared a quick supper before a welcome bed, I found KG’s house and knocked on the door. The whole family opened the door and the initial reaction was as if I was something that had crawled out of green cheese, :shock: before the usual hearty greetings. It is always great to renew our friendship.

After supper, I got out the new gadget my wife had persuaded me to buy the week before. I found the pearl spotted owl page and pressed the button of the call. I didn’t realise it would be so loud! People 3 chalets away ran into their chalet and fetched torches and started looking in the trees in the area…… :whistle:

Other birds seen inside and outside the park were; ostrich, black shouldered kite, martial eagle, jackal buzzard, pale chanting goshawk, lanner falcon, rock & greater kestrel, white rumped swift, lilac breasted roller, yellowbilled hornbill, pied & Cape crow, Kalahari scrub-robin, fiscal shrike, glossy starling, white browed sparrow weaver, sociable weaver, house & Cape sparrow.

Image

Pictures by courtesy of my wife.

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 Post subject: Re: Leopards please.....
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 2:10 pm 
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@Trrp-trrrrrrr. It is part of the big picture, but not a pretty sight.....
@vinkie. THere are lots of them there.
@hilda. When we go there, I want to get there asap. THe birdies are always around. Yes, I walked over to the braai and played it again.
@barryels. Thenks for the compliment. I just write it as I feel (and can remember).
@Lionspoon. Yes it was a pity we didn't connect again. I had to acceed to my DIL's wishes or we would have set off earlier. BSK - not a common bird in KTP, but we have seen a few. what caracal. :twisted: :wall:
@t-bal. the only thing I can say to you is "Get there" you won't be sorry. Hilda & barryels were first timers last month. Ask them if it was worth going.
@CoS. Any time there is magic. Some more than others.
@MM. You looked rather dapper behind the stumps. :thumbs_up:
@Phil!. Thanks - you will see in due course.
@RichJ. It is not difficult to see. Sorry we missed you as well.
@GavinW & Billyf. Welcome, when I wanted to post this it said you beat me to it.

Tuesday
The door between the bedrooms in the chalet was missing, and although my wife said that my attempts at snoring were quite feeble, they seemed to be enough to disturb my son and DIL. :?

Still, we were up at 6 and out and about just after the gates opened. A petty point. The chap who hands out the permits at the exit gate, was 5 to 8 minutes late regularly, probably because he opens the ‘game area’ gate too.

Before we got to the confluence, we saw that the riverbed area was strewn with carcases of varying stages of decay. The cause of the most recent one was a pride of 7 of which we came across 3 lionesses in the distance. Did we drive past them last night? :shock:

We headed off towards Mata Mata, as there were reports of the area ‘cooking’. We regularly spotted the usual game, including a herd of springbok about 500 strong, but no predators except this fellow who woke up and disappeared under a far tree shortly after out arrival at 14th. Dunno what we did to offend him.


Image


This lot watched him go as well.

Image


En route, I had scored a few brownie points as I spotted my wife’s favourite raptor, the pygmy falcon.

Image


This was a particularly good road for yellow ribbons, the first of which belonged to MGoddard, whom I met and enjoyed a great braai with on her (most of a) year in Kruger at Croc Bridge. Then it was the turn of Click-Click and Anne-Marie, with both of whom I shared a walk in the wild 2 years ago under the watchful eye of KG, followed by a night ride. We arrived at MM and while the others popped into the shop, in my usual shy and retiring manner, I joined 2 guys who were looking at a pic on one’s camera to give my opinion. The other turned out to be Friedrich von Horsten. At first he didn’t believe I was me, probably expecting an ugly guy, but then he enveloped me in a huge hug. Just as well my wife was still in the shop……

It was rather hot at MM so we started the braai and cooled off in the pool. Back at the braai, various inhabitants came to join us and begged in vain to share our food, and a yellow mongoose got shooed out of the tent of some campers who were also enjoying their lunch.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Leopards please.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 2:30 pm 
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In the meantime I'll lend you one of my leopards. :twisted:

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Leopards please.....
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:18 pm 
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Thank you all for your comments and patience, except Lionspoon - thanks for nothing. :tongue:

Tuesday continued

On the return journey, the lion was not visible, but 14th had a raptor party. Firstly a Verreaux’s eagle owl

Image

was being viewed by a bus of birders. As we were talking to the occupants, I met one of the ladies who had been with me on the November birding trip – her first time to Kgalagadi. In the next tree was this magnificent martial.

Image

A bit further, this rock kestrel was enjoying a late lunch.

Image

We also saw 16 giraffe, including this one that found the heat a bit much. Kgalagadi heat can beat anyone, I have often seen it too hot for eagles to fly.

Image

At Auchterlonie ( I thought it sounded German, but it is of Scottish origin), we stopped to use the facilities, and I saw this chap, a capped wheatear,

Image

and a Cape crow that sounded like he had had an argument with my mother in law. Boy could he go on muttering………

Image

When we returned, we found that the door I had requested to be fitted during the day had not materialised, so after a finger supper, the duty manager moved the old people to a different chalet for the night.

This time I wasted no time in pishing the pearlie, but the other guests must have twigged by now. No response. But the Verreaux’s eagle owl was sitting on the roof.

Unmentioned birds seen; Ostrich, black headed heron, secretary bird, white backed vulture, tawny eagle, PCG, lanner falcon, kori bustard, Northern black korhaan, spotted thick-knee, namaqua sandgrouse, swallowtailed bee-eater, lilac breasted roller, common scimitarbill, yellowbilled hornbill, redeyed bulbul, familiar & ant eating chats, Kalahari scrub-robin, marico flycatcher, crimsonbreasted shrike, glossy starling, white browed sparrow weaver, house, Cape & grey headed sparrow.

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Last edited by Bush Baptist on Sun Apr 07, 2013 3:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Leopards please.....
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 3:55 pm 
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@RichardJ - KTP always delivers great raptor sightings - as you know I'm sure.
@Lionspoom - don't worry, you will always be my friend. :thumbs_up:
@arks - thanks for the correction :redface: mind thinking one thing and fingers typing another.
@S-L - he needs it for winter.
@anne-marie - I think you are the only forumite - oh yes and Mgoddard - I have met in 2 parks.
@wanderw - she was my favourite MIL also.......
@vinkie - glad you like them
@Mgoddard - KTP is a great place to have ANY birthday Nice to see you again.
@barryels - the birdies seem to like to be photographed
@hilda - strangely no I did not. The duty manager was apologetic and put us in a 2 bed chalet. It was nice.
@Heksie - you have been fishing in the wrong pond, No, I have to work. No, I want to see other things as well. Always nice to see 'mites old ones and new. Ja/nee, you will have to wait.


Wednesday morning walk

The two pinpoints of red glow as we walked to the old reception building in the gloom told us that KG and Richard were already waiting to take us on our early morning walk. I introduced my son and DIL to them and KG gave my wife the mandatory hug.

The ride to Samevloeiing was quiet, and the lions had moved on. Richard handled the no entry barrier, and we parked about a hundred metres beyond it. It was getting quite light as KG did the usual briefing. Single file, close together and sign language talking.

Image

I was the only one of the four of us, all experienced game parkers, who had been on a walk before. I had done two in Kruger and the very same one two years ago. On that occasion, lions walked on our tracks a day after we had made them. I hoped that today our timing would be a little better.

We stopped for various explanations of trees, bushes, birds, small creatures and spoor (tracks).

Image

It looked like footmarks of who’s who in Kgalagadi. One particular set got the guides excited. A single lion, and the tracks were ‘sharp’, the breeze had not yet blown away the ‘edge’. The pulse started to race. We hadn’t gone much further when Richard spotted her 120 metres ahead. She was strolling up the riverbed looking for the rest of the pride. She stopped, lay down and hid behind some grass and turned to look us in the eye.

Image

We continued walking close together, keeping an eye on her. Up she got and continued and disappeared into the ‘blue bush’. We climbed the canyon wall a bit to get another sighting of her as she plodded up the riverbed and then we descended again following her. We were about 80 metres from her when we lost sight of her again. We slowly continued without seeing her again, until we got to the spot where the walk usually heads up the opposite ridge, and we did so, all the while looking for Mrs lion. Gone. Nothing.

We walked back to the calcrete ridge that has ‘seats’ where KG usually takes a break for refreshments, and while we sat, the lioness emerged from the bush, about 30 metres from where we had gone up the ridge. She walked up the opposite canyon wall and disappeared finally from sight. She had been wary of us and hid. Lion behaviour is interesting. Normally they are not aggressive to humans, and try to avoid confrontation.

On the ridge we flushed a Cape fox that dashed off, and encountered some territorial male springbok, and as the walk drew to a close, we saw a herd of gnu and an oryx, and this.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Leopards please.....
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:21 am 
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Thanks to all of you for your kind comments. :clap:

If I was to be stuck in very dangerous bush with one person, I would choose KG. He has done it all. It was a wonderful experience knowing the lioness was not agitated and wanted to get away from us, and she saw us as the predator.

My son and his wife had been on the go since late Saturday afternoon, so we decided on some down time.

The repeat swims were refreshing, and I got better acquainted with our new toy, the aforementioned ‘tablet’. I managed to become quite adept as a cyber air traffic controller, although in real life you cannot restart with a mess of planes on the runway, but I wasn’t so successful with fruit ninja.

We started the fire, and KG & family arrived for the braai. It is always a pleasure to share a meal together, to share stories and remember previous times together, and then to get first hand information. Most of it related to the recently competed cricket weekend, which must have been wonderful to attend. The effort and sacrifices of many, not least our lunch guests, will have a far reaching effect. All too soon, the boerie, chicken, salads etc were consumed, while the ‘door hanging’ crew stepped between us to deaden my nocturnal noises, we parted company. There was still an hour before gate closing…..

Birds seen; Ostrich, black headed heron, secretary bird, martial eagle – a pair on a nest, PCG, kori bustard, Northern black korhaan, Verreaux’s eagle owl – again on the roof, swallowtailed bee-eater, Cape crow, red-eyed bulbul, (VERY) familiar chat,

Image

ant eating chats, marico flycatcher,

Image

crimsonbreasted shrike,

Image

glossy starling, white browed sparrow weaver, Cape & grey headed sparrow, scaly-feathered finch, masked weaver.

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Last edited by Bush Baptist on Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Leopards please.....
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 11:18 pm 
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Thursday

Same procedure as Tuesday. Up and out of the gates a few minutes late thanks to the gate opener’s procedure. We had decided to do a clockwise loop (Samevloeiiing – Auchterlonie – KijKij – Samevloeiiing), unless everyone else went up the dune road towards MM, but they didn’t, so we did. At the 2R waterhole was this brown hyena, something that those who only go to Kruger are yet to see.

Image

After that, it was a quiet morning, with not much other that the usual gnu, oryx and springbok dotted around. It was so quiet that we decided it was too early for the Auchterlonie (it STILL sounds German!) breakfast stop, so we decided to go on for 2 waterholes to Batulama, where we turned after a largely fruitless search and went for breakfast. My son, who is 1.9 metres (6 ft 4) and 95 kilos of muscle, is scared of nothing….except lizards and was terrified as he played hide and seek with a ground agama in the loo.
On the dune road the biggest excitement was when we flushed a kori bustard and it took off and flew 75 metres. Koris are the heaviest flying birds in the world and are reluctant flyers, so it is not common to see them airborne. On the descent to KijKij we saw a few cars and the ‘hot spot’ delivered for us again. Mr lion was lion under a tree with some oryx checking him out cautiously.

Image

But I drove past a YR – white GP car – and waved furiously, only to get a muted wave in reply. I thought everyone knew the fire engine! Maybe the comatose lion 40 metres away had him spellbound. Anyway, after a few minutes we took off for Melkvlei for a pit stop. My wife had wanted to stay a bit longer, but I finally persuaded her what she has known for years, that the lion would be there all day. As we were about to leave Melkvlei, other cars arrived and my wife told me in a rather irritating manner that the lion had gone. When we got back to KijKij the lion was indeed gone and the alpha male oryx was drinking from the waterhole. Just what I needed. Mrs Right right again. The wimpish king of the jungle had been shooed off by his prey. What is the jungle coming to. We had almost got to Rooiputs when I started listening again, and my wife took this pic of the lodge from the road for those who are interested.

Image

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Last edited by Bush Baptist on Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:16 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Leopards please.....
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:08 am 
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Thanks to all of you for your kind (and otherwise) comments. :wink:

LS, along with Marie se Draai and the area just outside 2R, we have found KijKij area to be the most productive over the years.

To continue......

Back at 2R the family went for a swim and I went to buy some liquid refreshment. I chatted to a woman with the wildest hair (Rod Stewart eat your heart out), who told me of lion & cheetah sightings in the Aub river side. Over the lunch braai we decided to go and have a look, since the morning drive had been a little disappointing.

At the 2R waterhole, we saw that size DOES matter in the animal kingdom, a red hartie fancied the shade that a territorial male springbok occupied, so he took it.

Image

Then near Houmoed, these 3 appeared and they weren’t there when we had passed by earlier.

Image

One lady got up and walked across the road in front of the bakkie and lay down out of sight under a large bush.

Image

The others plonked down again after turning around. Great, 1 down 1 to go. As luck would have it, if we had just gone on 2 km past Batulama this morning……..

At Munro an interesting scenario played out. Secretary birds were enjoying the waterhole when these 2 bad boys flew in and chased them off.

Image

During their drink, they were in turn chased off the water by an ostrich. Size again.

Image

Not impressed!

Image

There was quite a lot more game in the riverbed in the heat of the day than earlier, which surprised me, but I suppose they were getting thirsty. When we got past Batulama, the car in front of us was going slowly, and when I saw the YR I remembered it was ClickClick. She had the cheetah on GPS co-ordinates and stopped right at the spot. Just as well, because it was quite far and very difficult to spot with the naked eye when it lay still.

Image

2 out of 2. Now the day had improved a whole lot. We also got some great birds sightings on the way back

Image

Image

and the lions had moved closer

Image


and we made it in time for the sunset drive.

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 Post subject: Re: Leopards please.....
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2013 8:29 am 
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Thanks for sharing everybody.


We are getting to the end soon....

After passing the sunset drive vehicle on the other nights and seeing 2 or 4 people on it, it was a bit disappointing to see it was almost full, and with young children. I took the seat in the cab next to the guide. I have nothing against children – I have 3 of my own – but modern parents are not permitted to discipline them properly, and I thought there could be issues. There were not. One US child of about 8 asked questions and gave anecdotes until her father suggested she let the guide guide, which she promptly did.

Although the guide knew about the Houmoed lions, he chose to take the Nossob road. We had been told how oryx keep cool, why gnu are not suited to the desert and why springbok often stand alone when we saw the first of two ‘oh dear’ sightings.

A car with a GP registration scurrying to do the approximately 8 km to camp at 5 to 7. I was impressed with the calm but firm manner that the guide handled it and needed no help from me. :roll: The driver lost any dignity when he lied about not knowing the gate closing time and opened himself to ridicule by asking what the sunset drive was doing out late as well. Registration noted for fining, we proceeded.

Soon afterwards, number two. 2 bakkies with trailers overtook us and the guide flagged them down. They had permission (so they said) to drive in the gathering gloom to Rooiputs camping area. They promptly disappeared down a no entry road into Botswana. We followed them since the guide was going that way anyway, and then they took a right that led them in a wide arc back to 2 Rivers, ignoring our flashing headlights. We carried on the ride, now seeing some spring hares and the 2 (mis)adventurers lights appeared behind us. When they caught up, the firm but polite guide admonished them and told them the correct way to Rooiputs. They took off into the night, never to be seen again.

After the turn, things started to look up. We saw Cape fox, small spotted genet, a distant African wild cat, some black backed jackal, and at Samevloeiing, a lingering sighting of a brown hyena on a slow scavenger hunt. Not the greatest of night rides, but not the worst either. Here's blurred proof'

Image


Birds for the day; Ostrich, black headed heron, blackshouldered kite, tawny & martial eagle,

Image

pygmy falcon, Northern black korhaan, Namaqua sandgrouse, barn owl, Verreaux’s eagle owl, swallowtailed bee-eater,

Image

grey hornbill, black crow, familiar chat, fawn coloured lark, blackchested prinia, marico flycatcher, crimsonbreasted shrike, glossy starling, whitebrowed sparrow weaver, sociable weaver, grey headed and Cape sparrow, and yellow canary.

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 Post subject: Re: Leopards please.....
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2013 9:33 pm 
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Thanks Sparrow, barryels, hilda, vinkie, and everyone else who has joined either silently or with comments.

I trust you ejoyed being 'with' us on the trip.

This will be the last bt of text, but I will put up more pics soon.

Friday

My son and DIL had a dinner date in Franchhoek so we had to leave the park at gate opening time, so there was no opportunity for a short ride to Samevloeiing, nor time to say farewell to KG & family, but the Verreaux’s eagle owl came to the tree in front of our chalet to say goodbye.

After picking up info in Upington, we decided to brave the road works of the Calvinia route rather than the extra 100 km via Springbok. There were some that way also we were told.

Just after Calvinia we had a lovely sighting of a Verreaux’s (black) eagle in flight, and we arrived at the friends’ house before 20h00 and home by 21h00, after negotiating the road works.

Alas we will have to return again for leopards. :wall: A tough job, but somebody has to do it. :roll:

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