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 Post subject: Timbits' Rare Antelope, Red Dust .... Arid Parks, Sept. '13
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 10:16 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
It’s hard to believe that we arrived back home more than a month ago. It seems like ages ago.

After travelling some 13,000+ km, and 27 hours, we still were not at our final destination. Even though the spirit was willing, the body needed a good night’s sleep in a bed, a shower and some real food. After doing some grocery shopping, we were ready for the short drive to Mokala where we were meeting friends. None of us had been to this park before.

August 30 – September 01, 2013

Around mid-afternoon, we entered the park through the Lilydale gate. When we checked in, reception informed us that our friends hadn’t checked in yet.

We arranged to get our accommodation changed so that we were next to each other.
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We unpacked and went for a quick game drive. The first animal we saw was a roan followed by black wildebeest.
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We had seen roan once before, many years ago in Botswana. By the time we left, I think we had seen every single roan in the park, and I have photographic evidence of that. The black wildebeest was a first for us. We saw a lot more roan on that drive, as well as a small herd of blesbok and a porcupine shuffling through the tall grass.

We got back to the hut and our friends had a large fire going which was nice because it was rather cool. We chatted until about 10 pm before calling it a night.


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 Post subject: Re: Rare Antelope, Red Dust, Flowers and Friends
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 27, 2013 2:11 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
It was still August and the gate only opened at 7 am but we didn’t make it out until about 8:30. We saw more roan and then came across a herd of about 20 sable.

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Most of them were lying in the tall grass so it was hard to get a good shot. We stayed with them for about half an hour but they didn’t get up. They were probably too cold.
We continued on and came across 3 very white zebra.

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We made our way to the bird hide and just as we were getting out of the vehicle, our friends pulled up. We didn’t stay very long, it was too cold. But we did see vervets, nyala and kudu. It was getting close to lunch time, so we decided that we would meet up at the restaurant at Mosu. When we arrived, we asked for a table and they asked us if we had a reservation. We responded ‘No, is there no space?’ while looking over a totally empty dining room. We had a delicious lunch and by the time we left the dining room was still less than a quarter full.

We saw a lot of young animals, as well as some with strange horns. I’m guessing that this guy is probably one of the most photographed animals in the park.

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This is probably because there are no predators in the park. It is used primarily as a breeding area for endangered antelope.

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We did notice that almost every single termite mound had been broken open. No idea why.
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The next day, someone stopped and told us they had seen a white rhino and calf. We didn’t see them, but we did see some old middens. All in all, we saw: black wildebeest, warthog, grey duiker, kudu, gemsbok, Burchell’s zebra, red hartebeest, springbok, steenbok, chacma baboon, porcupine, vervet, black-backed jackal, cape grey mongoose, buffalo, blesbok, blue wildebeest, eland, giraffe, impala, mountain reedbuck, roan, sable, tsessebe and vervet.

Others have described the park as a little gem, and it really is. We spent 3 nights / 2 full days and I think that is the right amount of time. We did notice that the animals were very skittish / shy. There are a number of possible reasons for that:
• There was a game capture in July where 228 animals were captured and sold. This brought in over R3,000,000. One male buffalo brought in just over R1,000,000. This is according to SANParks Times, September 2013 edition.
• There are no predators in the park, but the park animals supply the restaurant.
• There were very few people when we were there. Maybe the animals just aren’t used to vehicles. Most animals would run away from the road when they heard a vehicle approach. That makes it tough to get a good photo. Binoculars are a necessity in this park.

These are just my observations. Maybe there are other reasons.


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 Post subject: Re: Rare Antelope, Red Dust, Flowers and Friends
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 28, 2013 12:32 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
A few more photos.......

This guy posed so nicely for us.

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The view from our hut.

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A true gem of a park.


Last edited by Timbits on Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Rare Antelope, Red Dust, Flowers and Friends
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 8:41 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
A few more photos from Mokala:

eland
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another roan
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lady nyala
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Lilydale's bar/restaurant
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Last edited by Timbits on Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Rare Antelope, Red Dust, Flowers and Friends
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:58 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
September 02, 2013
Everyone was packed and ready to leave at 6:30 AM. It was going to be long day of driving - our friends were off to Windhoek and we were heading for Kgalagadi. We had a most enjoyable time with them and said our goodbyes in Upington.

The coolers were full

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as was the vehicle. The last few purchases were by my feet. If we had stayed any longer, we would have had to rent a larger vehicle. :shock:

We arrived around 4:30 pm, quickly unpacked and went for a short game drive. We didn't see much but it felt so good to be back in the park again. :clap: :clap: :clap: It had been a long day so we made it an early night.


Last edited by Timbits on Sun Nov 03, 2013 1:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Rare Antelope, Red Dust, Flowers and Friends
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 03, 2013 2:02 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
September 03 – 05, 2013
Kgalagadi Guru dropped by with my leopard. See here for the story: http://www.sanparks.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=70&t=69148&p=1992088#p1992088

Here are some of the animals that we saw in the Twee Rivieren area.

Spotted hyena
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Meerkats

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Gemsbok
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tbc


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 Post subject: Re: Rare Antelope, Red Dust, Flowers and Friends
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:39 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
A few more sightings from the Twee Rivieren area.

Squirrel
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I love the view from Auchterlonie
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After reading about it on the forums, I knew I had to try a vetkoek for lunch. As everyone has said, they are huge. Easily enough for 2 people. They are similar to what we know as Sloppy Joe’s. The “bun” is deep fried, and the filling is mince curry. As you can see, they are the size of a plate. Delish!!!

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The weather warmed up a bit and and our second afternoon was definitely more productive. We saw red hartebeest, Kori Bustard, 3 bat eared foxes ,Jackal, giant eagle owl and chick about 1.5 km from Twee Rivieren, plus the usual ostrich, wildebeest, springbok and gemsbok.

Kori Bustard
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Jackal
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Martial Eagle
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tbc


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 Post subject: Re: Rare Antelope, Red Dust, Flowers and Friends
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2013 1:57 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
Sept 06 , 2013.

We headed up to Urikaruus for a 1 night stay. That camp is just far too popular. It is almost impossible to get space there. :(

Halfway between Twee Rivieren and Kamqua, we spotted a pair of lions. They were at least 100 metres off the road so we didn’t stay very long. We came across 4 hyena sleeping about 10 metres off the road, approx 2.5 km south of Kamqua. They have a den in the area. It's probably the clan that used to have a den about 5 km north of Urikaruus. We passed by it on our way to 13th borehole, but it had obviously been abandoned. The waterhole was quiet so we returned to Urikaruus and checked in. Around 5:30 pm, 6 giraffe came to the water hole, followed by 2 jackals a bit later.

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Early in the evening I could hear some noise in the kitchen and went to investigate. The mice were still frequent visitors. We couldn’t afford to lose our food to them this early in the trip, so all the dry goods were put in the vehicle for safekeeping overnight.

The temperature dipped to 1C overnight. 1 blanket was sufficient to keep toasty warm. I remember last year when I think it got down to about -8C or so. Now that was cold!!! I was prepared for those temps again this time so was pleasantly surprised.

tbc


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 Post subject: Re: Rare Antelope, Red Dust, Flowers and Friends
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:41 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
I've been a bit busy lately but that's no excuse. I must get this going again. :wall:

First of all, a very warm welcome to Pumbaa, gatita and Philip1. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting - Hilda, Trrp-trrrrrrrr, Meandering Mouse, umtali1, Cape of Storms, Pumbaa, Barryels, gatita and Philip1 :gflower: :gflower: :gflower: Comments are always appreciated.

To anyone who visits KTP, do check out the take-away at Twee Rivieren. The Vetkoek is well worth it. :clap: :clap: :clap:

As umtali1 commented, it is about being at the right place at the right time. This time around, we found that we were often at the right place but at the wrong time. That is what makes you appreciate what you do see.

There are threads on this forum where people discuss songs and music that put them in the mood or remind them of visits to the park. Every time we get out at Auchterlonie, I first look for lions in the loo and then stand on the ridge overlooking the valley and just take in the view. The song that comes to mind is: I Can See for Miles by The Who. :D It is a view to die for.

On our first visit a few years ago, I took the same photo, and there was a gemsbok in it which I used it as my screen-saver at work. Just my little mini stress-reliever :whistle:


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 Post subject: Re: Rare Antelope, Red Dust, Flowers and Friends
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 3:10 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
Sept 07 – 10, 2013

The next morning we drove up to 13th borehole and there was a brown hyena having a drink. It looked like it may have been in a fight because it had fresh wounds on either side of its neck. It was a great sighting that we shared with 1 other vehicle. A few minutes later, another vehicle came from the north, watched a few minutes and then sped off. It scared the hyena away but it came right back.

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All our other sightings of brownies have been quite far away, so we were thrilled with this one.

We were told that there were 4 hyena on a kill about 2 – 3 km north. We found them, but they were quite far off the road, sleeping. Several jackals were hanging around, waiting for scraps.

We continued on to Nossob where we ran into Marius. We had bumped into him last year, again at Nossob. According to Jacques (the attendant at Uri this time around) Marius is the one who named the resident Cape Fox. Somewhere along the line, there was a typo and Charlie Fox became Charlie Fax.

tbc


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 Post subject: Re: Rare Antelope, Red Dust, Flowers and Friends
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 3:43 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
The sightings board showed little activity. We drove up to Kwang and someone said they had seen a lioness there earlier in the day and were going to wait around for a bit to see if on the off-chance, she showed up again. It was getting late in the afternoon so we started heading back and stopped at Cubitje Quap. It was quite warm with not a cloud in the sky and there was a Honey Badger using the little bit of shade provided by the rocks. The Pale Chanting Goshawk was ignoring it completely.

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Back at camp, getting the braii ready, we were commenting how people didn’t seem quite so friendly this time around when the woman who told us about seeing the lioness earlier came by. She told us that shortly after we had left, the lions came back. There were 2 males, 4 females and 3 cubs. Our next door neighbour heard this and came around asking for details. It appears that the bush telegraph is still in fine form! :thumbs_up:

Sunday was a very quiet day. It was quite windy and dusty. We went north, stopping at Cubitje Quap, Kwang and Bedinct. All were quiet. We did see 3 female kudu crossing the road and then quickly disappearing. The honey badger was back at Kwang again this afternoon.

On Monday morning we decided to go south . Marie se Gat was quiet so we continued on to Kaspersdraii. A photographer informed us that we had just missed mating lions by about 10 minutes. Thank you for that bit of information.

We headed back to camp for a quick pit-stop and then headed north again. It was about 9:30 am, and about 1.5 km from camp, 3 cheetah crossed the road about 15 metres in front of us. By the time we stopped, they were about 10 metres away.

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We were the only vehicle there for about 5 minutes. We turned around so that we were heading towards camp again. One car came roaring up behind us and stopped about 75 metres ahead of us. A few other cars showed up and we played leap-frog for a bit.

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The cheetah continued to walk further away from the road. We thought they might be heading for the waterhole at camp, so we went to the hide, as did another couple. The cats had something else in mind and didn’t bother showing up for a drink.

tbc


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 Post subject: Re: Rare Antelope, Red Dust, Flowers and Friends
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 10:10 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
Goronta - welcome aboard. Lots of seats still left. I hope you enjoy the ride.

Thanks to hilda, barryels, Meandering Mouse, umtali1, Trrp-trrrrrrrr, wanderw and gatita for sticking around. I am really enjoying your company. :clap: :clap: :clap:

We were told there was a single male lion on a carcass, about 15 km north of camp. We found him – sleeping- but he was easily 100 metres off the road. There were a lot of jackals around but they were sleeping too. We continued on to Kwang and all was quiet there. We returned to the lion but he was still sleeping. :whistle:

We thought it a bit odd that there was only 1 male lion on a wildebeest kill. I wouldn’t think that a single lion could bring down a wildebeest. :hmz: Later in the afternoon, we returned to the lion. This time, there was a second male lion, sleeping under a different tree and even further away. You could just barely make them out using binoculars. One of them eventually got up.

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The story we heard was there was a pride of 9 lions in total, the others were all hiding. It sounds like it may have been the pride that we missed at Kwang 2 nights ago and they’ve moved south. The lions were obviously not moving now, so we did.

We headed back to Cubitje Quap and the honey badger was there again. It seems to be a regular visitor arriving sometime around 3:30 and leaving about 2 hours later. It was again plastered to the rocks, but got up and had a bit of a drink. It reminded me of one of my cats, dipping a paw into the water and then licking the paw clean. That seems to be a rather inefficient way of drinking, but then again, it did not appear to be in a rush to go anywhere.

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The next morning the 2 male lions were gone, as was the carcass. About 1.5 km north of Kwang, we came across 2 cars watching / following a brown hyena on its way to the waterhole. It was about 30 – 50 metres away, walking parallel to the road and kept playing peek-a-boo behind the bushes. We decided to go back to the waterhole and wait......and wait, and wait. We kept scanning the area and finally saw it about 150 metres past the waterhole!

We headed north again and saw a lot of lion tracks about 6 km from Bedinct. There were 6 or 7 lions about 150 metres away sitting on top of the ridge looking out over the dunes. We continued on and at Bedinct, there were 2 male lions sleeping out in the open. One got up to get a drink and posed very nicely for us. He reminded me of Alex the lion in the movie "Madagascar". The fact that this lion was relatively close and actually up and about made it our best lion sighting of the entire trip.

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One thing that we did notice was that most of our lion sightings were of male lions. There is an interesting article in the Sept 2013 edition of SANParks Times that refers to this. (That paper is full of great information :clap: ) Currently, there are 2 theories: one is that it is due to increased human-wildlife conflict that leads to lions being displaced or killed. Killing male lions may lead to coalition disruptions which may lead to more male takeovers and inducing male-biased litters. The second theory is related to prey availability. The installation of fixed water sources has made some prey species resident. Abundant prey may lead to a better diet for the lions thus improving their condition. Good condition may influence the sex of the cubs. Further research was deemed necessary and the result was the launching of the Kgalagadi Lion Project. More info is available on their website at http://www.kalaharilions.co.za/.

tbc


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 Post subject: Re: Rare Antelope, Red Dust, Flowers and Friends
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 10, 2013 4:22 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
Sept 11, 20131

We only had 1 leopard sighting and it was at Kaaspersdraii. To be honest, it can't really be considered a "sighting". Many trip reports are filled with really fabulous photos. This shows that great shots are not easy to come by.

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He had a jackal kill in a nearby tree. AstroMatt identified him as Motsumi. He is a new leopard, and had been hanging around the waterhole for a few days. Someone got great photos of him the day before and they are in the latest version of the Leopard Guide. If the current version had been available, I would have easily identified him :whistle: :whistle: :whistle: Only in my dreams!!! Thanks to AstroMatt for all his dedication to keeping the Leopard Guide up-to-date. :clap: :clap: :clap:

We took the upper dune road across to the Aoub side and it was rather quiet, except for this korhaan

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We also found a few gemsbok and ostrich, usually at the top of the dunes.

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Some springbok at the top of the dune

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About 12 km south of Mata Mata, I spotted a cheetah sitting on the dune. When we stopped, we noticed that it was actually 2, one was sitting, the other was lying down. They both headed down the dune, crossed the road in front of us and then continued across the river bed and up to the top of the dune on the far side.

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We had them all to ourselves for about 5 minutes. By the time other cars arrived, they were perched at the top of the dune about 300 metres away. Even through the binoculars, they were mere specks. :shock:

Later in the afternoon, we tried to find them again, but they had disappeared.

tbc


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 Post subject: Re: Rare Antelope, Red Dust, Flowers and Friends
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 9:07 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
September 12, 2013

We saw 2 giraffes necking
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We also found a Cape Fox sleeping out in the open. The den was approximately 2 km north of the top end of the loop at 13th borehole and about 10 metres from the road.

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Just south of the bottom of the 14th borehole loop was a pair of Spotted Eagle Owls in a tree. We were stopped and trying to get a good look at them when another vehicle drove up and we pointed it out to them. Then another vehicle. At one point, I think there were 5 vehicles all looking at the pair. A Kalahari traffic jam. :whistle:

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A couple of the birds that we saw

Lilac Breasted roller
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Swallow tailed bee-eater

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Later in the afternoon, just south of Mata Mata, we came across a rather strange sight. Off in the distance was something that stood about 1.5 metres tall. Looking through the binoculars, the bottom half looked like a jackal with a huge bird sitting on top of it. It turned out to be a kori bustard doing a mating display. What a sight! :big_eyes: Unfortunately, too far away for any photos.

tbc


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 Post subject: Re: Rare Antelope, Red Dust, Flowers and Friends
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:59 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
Junior Virtual Ranger

Joined: Sun May 13, 2012 8:30 pm
Posts: 291
Location: Toronto, Canada
Award: Sighting of the Year - Predator (2012)
September 13, 2013

Around 8:00 am, we were approaching the Cape Fox den and saw that there was a bit of a traffic jam. Ah, the fox must be out. We approached one vehicle and they told us there were 4. Oh, 4 pups, we thought. We looked over, and sure enough, there they were, 4 of them. Not Cape Foxes, but cheetah! :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes:

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Uh oh, where is the Cape Fox then? It turned out that the cheetah were actually about 100 metres north of the den and there was the fox, sitting out in the open. Phew!!!!

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On our way to Kamqua, we saw 13 giraffe and 3 male kudu. About 1.5 km south of Kamqua, were 6 or 7 hyena lazing around.

At 13th borehole, we found one lonely male lion lying in the shade, across from the waterhole. There were wildebeest and ostrich and jackals in the riverbed, and they would wander over to the waterhole for a drink. The lion would raise his head every 5 minutes or so to take a quick look around.

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Nothing was coming close to him, so he’d just put his head back down and close his eyes. We sat and watched for about half an hour. Then he rolled over and had his back to us. Watching lions sleep isn’t the most exciting way to pass the time, but when you’re looking at the back of a sleeping lion, well that’s when even a die-hard cat lover decides she’s had enough.

We found a Crimson Breasted Shrike in a tree. They are so difficult to photograph. When they are on the ground, they bounce around like a ping pong ball. When they’re in a tree, there are usually so many branches in the way that it’s impossible to get a decent shot. Even though its been heavily cropped, I was thrilled to get this one.

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Late in the afternoon, about 1km north of Craig Lockhart we came across another traffic jam. We looked around and tried to see what the reason was. Finally we spotted it, there was a cheetah way off in the distance. She had her eyes locked on a springbok that was probably 300 metres away. She appeared to be in “hunting mode” for a while, but realized that the springbok was too far away. 2 cubs were hiding behind a fallen tree, letting Mom do her thing.

The next day when we went back, we didn’t see the cheetah, but there was a single springbok in the same general area.

tbc


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