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 Post subject: Granjan's Just another winter's tale. KNP, Oct. '12
Unread postPosted: Fri May 10, 2013 10:52 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 12:20 am
Posts: 518
Location: cornwall uk
Every winter, when the clocks go back, when the evenings become dark and cold at 5pm, instead of getting a little depressed and miserable at the thought of a long hard winter, our spirits rise as we plan our escape to South Africa.
This winter though I made my escape early and left for two fantastic solo weeks in Kruger at the end of October. I had a wonderful time though I was a bit too early for the migrannt birds and the impala lambs that I'd hoped to see.
As always, leaving Kruger was a wrench but a family Christmas, when our children and grandchildren come home to Cornwall was the next lovely event on our calendar.
Then came the highlight! Early in January, we left a very cold UK for nearly three wonderful months in South Africa, staying at our little flat in Cape Town, visiting Golden Gate, the WCNP and finishing with a magical 2 weeks in KTP that culminated with the cricket.
So this is the tale of our long"hard" winter.


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 Post subject: Re: Just another winter's tale. [Better late than never.]
Unread postPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 10:51 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 12:20 am
Posts: 518
Location: cornwall uk
@ Rosemary H; I hope your winter is better than the beginning of our summer! Remembering our trip to South Africa is the only warm feeling we've had since we got back! :wink:
@ MM; it was fantastic to meet you, too! That last evening at the cricket was something we'll never forget.
Hopefully we'll meet again somewhere.............
@Trrp Trrrrrrrr and Philip1; that was a great little meet at Kirstenbosch and it was lovely to meet you both. :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up:
Hope you enjoy the ride!
@ MarkusF; Nice to have you along!


I left London on the 23/10/2013 and flew to Jo'berg via Paris. The flight was very good but arrived nearly an hour late and my connection to Phalaborwa was fairly tight so if, by any chance you were one of the seemingly hundreds of people I pushed past in the immigration queue saying "sorry excuse me " then thankyou, because eveyone without exception was good natured and kind and I made the connection with 5 minutes to spare!
What a pleasure to land, nip in to the supermarket and then be right at the gate!

Previously, I've only ever flown into Nelspruit and although that's within an hour or so's drive from now on [if I can afford it], it's Phalaborwa for me!
My first stop was Mopani for two nights and I was in the park by 2pm so had a fairly leisurely drive.
Within 3 miles of the gate, a man flagged me down to tell me he'd just seen a leopard walking along the road . No luck for me, though!
My first nice sighting was this Bataleur but not a very good pic.

Image
009 by jansp, on Flickr

It was a pretty quiet drive but just so lovely to be back in the park.

Not far before the river, this martial eagle was sat preening in a tree

Image
026 by jansp, on Flickr

Image
preening martial eagle by jansp, on Flickr

Crossing the river, I spotted one of my favourite birds and sat watching for quite some time but it was too far away for a decent pic.

Image
029 by jansp, on Flickr

At Tsale waterhole, a baby was being a little bit shy

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039 by jansp, on Flickr
Image
041 by jansp, on Flickr

Not far before Mopani, a fish eagle posed nicely for me

Image
044 by jansp, on Flickr

I LOVE Mopani and headed straight out through the bar to THAT veranda. A g+t and THAT view later,
I made myself a quick sandwich and curled up in bed.
An early start tomorrow!


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 Post subject: Re: Just another winter's tale. [Better late than never.]
Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 21, 2013 1:06 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 12:20 am
Posts: 518
Location: cornwall uk
I started this trip report in May. :redface: :redface: but didn't get very far and I've not been on the forum for a few months.
This summer has been the best for years in the U.K. but for us has been rather difficult.
Still we're both still alive and kicking for which we're very grateful so I decided it was time to finish this trip report though I've probably forgotten some of the details. It will definitely be a bit shorter than originally intended!


My first day, I drove down from Mopani for brekkie at Letaba, onto Masorini and so back to Mopani.
It was pretty quiet but no problem. I was back in the bush and these days quiet is better than a great sighting and twenty+ cars.
After a good breakfast, I took a walk along the riverside walk. There was of course a bushbuck.

Image
004 by jansp, on Flickr
There were a couple of birds that were firsts for me, too.

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015 by jansp, on Flickr

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bush shrike orange breasted by jansp, on Flickr

Poor pics but lovely birds!

The guide at Masorini was great, friendly and knowleagable. Shamefully, I can't remember his name but it's definitely worth a visit.
I didn't take a camera with me but back in the car park was a very sweet smelling bush abuzz with insects and I nipped back to the car and took a couple of pics. Fantastic beetles!

Image
135 by jansp, on Flickr
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138 by jansp, on Flickr

A quick trip to Sable hide didn't produce much but round the back of the dam a pair of yellow billed kites were nesting and obviously had their eye on the blacksmith's plover's chicks.

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035 by jansp, on Flickr
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yellow billed kite by jansp, on Flickr
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025 by jansp, on Flickr

At the low water bridge, this rather amused me.
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073 by jansp, on Flickr
It took a moment to realise the hippo was dead :doh: :doh: but this cleaner was waiting in the wings to tidy up!
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074 by jansp, on Flickr

The best sightings on the way back were this lovely little steenbok
Image
068 by jansp, on Flickr

a family of ground hornbills, whose pics I'll have to upload later 'cos Flickr is being so slow :wall: :wall: and a jacobin cuckoo, another first!


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 Post subject: Re: Just another winter's tale. [Better late than never.]
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 23, 2013 12:06 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 12:20 am
Posts: 518
Location: cornwall uk
Hi, MM. It's nice to be back. It was really great to meet you at the cricket.
We've both had a few problems through the summer and John had major surgery a couple of weeks ago and faces further ops but he's recovered really well :dance: and we're still hoping to come back to Cape Town early next year.

Trrp Trrrrrrr Nice to have you along. Hope you're both well.

Hilda and Barry, Cape of Storms, Pumbaa and Billyf many thanks. :thumbs_up:

Anne- Marie, I've kept dropping in on your KTP report. What great sightings you had and fabulous pics :clap: :clap:



On the way back, I had a really nice sighting of this family of ground hornbills

Image
046 by jansp, on FlickrImage
048 by jansp, on Flickr
Image
052 by jansp, on Flickr

and back in Mopani, I spotted this jakobin cuckoo, another first.
Image
080 by jansp, on Flickr


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 Post subject: Re: Just another winter's tale. [Better late than never.]
Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:16 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 12:20 am
Posts: 518
Location: cornwall uk
MM and Philip1, Lovely flowers, Thankyou! :wink:

Hilda and Barry, nice to have you along. :thumbs_up:

Pumbaa and Ann-Marie, Kaapsedraai, Tobieo, ForestGump, John'n'Poppy, Super Mongoose and Cape of Storms, thankyou all for your kind comments. It's lovely to have such great feedback! :dance:


The next morning I decided to drive via Tihogonyeni and then up the S50 to Shingwedzi.

The day started on a real high with this lone male just south of Tihongonyeni.

Image
010 by jansp, on Flickr Image006 by jansp, on Flickr
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009 by jansp, on Flickr

That was a great sighting! I'd seen roan before in the park at a distance but not since our years in Botswana had seen one so close. I sat watching him for about 15 minutes before he ambled off.

Sightings were few and far between.
I called into Grootvlei. There was a pair of fish eagles nesting in a tree but too far away for pics. The only other sight was this young yellow billed stork.

Image
025 by jansp, on Flickr

who obviously needed a bit more fishing practice! :?

Image
028 by jansp, on Flickr

As I drove further north, the veld became drier and drier. This is how I remembered Kanniedood from previous trips.

Image
knp212 124 by jansp, on Flickr

and this was the reality at the end of last October.

Image
Kanniedood - completely dry by jansp, on Flickr

I remember there was a thread about whether Shingwedzi would close because of the drought.
How ironic that 3 months later it was closed because of the floods!

I've been lucky with Sharpe's grysbok sightings in the past and saw this one just before Shingwedzi.

Image
IMG_0007 by jansp, on Flickr

I stopped at Shingwedzi for a late lunch. No water - hardly any birds and didn't see a single ele !

On the way back this bull was nice to see but otherwise the veld seemed devoid of life.
Image
054 by jansp, on Flickr


The next day I headed south where things were very different!


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