Finally for our second day in KTP. We had to go from Kielikrankie to Kahalari Tented Camp where we would sleep for two days. The itinerary was the obvious one, down the Lower Dune Road and up the Aoub River Road, exploring all the viewpoints and loops. We were lazy in the morning and wanted to enjoy Kielie a little more, so it was 8:10 when we took the road.
Besides the usual sightings, Springboks, BBJs, Gemsboks, Wildebeests, Pale Chanting Goshawks, Fork-tailed Drongos, Ostriches,White-Browed Sparrow Weavers, Sociable Weavers, Cape Turtle-Doves, Cape Black Crows, Crowned Plovers, Kori Bustards, we saw:
A male Steenbok at the Lower Dune Road.
Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbills.
In one of the viewpoints, it was great to see two BBJs with a carcass and digging the ground for food. I will add pictures of them soon.
From Gemsbokplein to Batulama, we saw a large Meerkat colony with the accompanying Ground Squirrels, and our only Leopard Tortoise in all the trip (but just a dead skeleton!), besides the several signs in the roads asking us to take care with them crossing. In the same stretch, African Grey and Southern Yellow-Billed Hornbills.
In Batulama, we found Namaqua Sandgrouses in the grass with Springboks.
More Ground Squirrels and a Crimson-Breasted Shrike (which would become a relatively common sighting) from Batulama to Montrose, Namaqua Sandgrouses in Montrose, and then between Montrose and Rooibrak, the first really fantastic sighting of the day: A cheetah that had just caught a Springbok! We didn't see the real action, but it was a very recent catch and with a tragic history of its own, as I will soon tell you. Above the Cheetah, we had the surplus of two Tawny Eagles at the same spot. After the cheetah, we found our first Giraffes, a group containing six of them. In the same stretch, another Crimson-Breasted Shrike, a Slender Mongoose, a Brubru, more Ground Squirrels,
In the Kamqua picnic site, we saw some Red-Headed Finches. From Kamqua to Urikaruus, we saw more 4 Giraffes. Another great sighting was a couple of Kudus between Urikaruus and Dertiende Boorgat, Green-Winged Pytilias in Dertiende Boorgat. Our first Lilac-Breasted Rollers appeared between Dertiende and Veertiende Boorgat. And then two more Kudus (a couple) between these two waterholes. Between Veertiende Boorgat and Dalkeith, we saw a Steppe Buzzard and 3 White-Backed Vultures (4 more of them between Dalkeith and Craig Lockhart).
Other birds to registers: Scaly-Feathered Finches and Sabota Larks.
We were progressing slowly, taking time to watch the animals' behavior, and thus we only reached Sitzas by the end of the day. This was good! We were in the exact right time....
... to see 4 Cheetahs coming back from a hunting day.. followed by 2 BBJs. Ooops, but the guides say BBJs don't take chances with Cheetahs! These guys hadn't read the guides and were obviously following the Cheetahs. No doubt was left in our minds that this is what they were doing when we left KTC the next day.... and found again the same four Cheetahs with the BBJs following them... We couldn't but think that BBJs are ectoparasites, just like remoras... Indeed, we found them parasitizing everybody in the field, from Cheetahs to Lions, from Hyenas to humans.... Very opportunistic animals and that's why they are so successful, even though even a Springbok can haunt them, as we saw sometimes....
In KTC, we were received by the guard, Edward, who showed us our very confortable and enjoyable tent. Really beautiful view of the Aoub River, with Springboks scattered there, and the occasional BBJs rounding the tent. The kitchen is separated from the bedroom, and that day we had dinner with many Hyenas calling nearby. It was great,exhilarating... After dinner, we just checked with our spotlights and ran to the bedroom. Besides Hyenas' calls, BBJs' calls accompanied us through the night. It was freezing, but our sleeping bags were so good that we had to sleep on shorts and shirts inside them. The only bad thing is to go out of their warmth in the morning.
Let me begin with some nice landscape pictures. First, the Aoub River from a viewpoint, then, the beginning of the Upper Dune Road with a beautiful sky, and a nice panoramic view of the Aoub River with a waterhole and Wildebeests. To finish, Ostriches at the top of the dunes.
To finish this posting, some BBJs pics, to be continued.
This is one of the BBJs we saw in the viewpoint eating carcass and ground animals.
To begin a series of eating carcasses pics, three nice ones.