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 Post subject: Peterpiper's Kruger Impressions : April 2006
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 12:12 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Recently spent 4 nights in Kruger – 3 nights camping at Balule and I night at Satara. Although I don’t usually go to the park during this time of year, I thought there were some definite highlights that are worth sharing if anyone is trying to decide what time of year is best. {All times are excellent!)

After a good rainy season, the animals and landscape are refreshed with nature’s abundance and the flowers and lush grasses shimmer with summer sunlight. A few memorable days with my 3 kids-{ wife was away on business,} - and so the pace was very laid back and easy.
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As an artist, the light is always important to me and I couldn’t help thinking what the French Impressionists, especially Monet, might have done with this wonderful eden.
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I’ll post more pics later.

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Last edited by peterpiper on Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:22 am 
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We drove into the park at Orpen Gate on the 8 April and after unsuccessfully trying to give the cam a gentle kick to get it going again, we headed straight for Satara for our ritualistic toasted egg and bacon., French fries, fruit juice and coffee brunch. :D :D :D Felt amazing to be off the long road and once again in a place with nothing to do and all day to do it in.( Apart from take a few pics)

Headed over the Oliphants River along the tar and saw our first ellies, young ones rolling in the mud, as the entire heard moved lazily along the rivers edge. Here you can get out of your car ,and from the high bridge we watched hippos playing hide and seek and crocs and terrapins doing their best to handle the current. Fish eagles welcomed us with their call – my 11 year old daughter now says that’s her favourite sound.

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After setting up camp, our afternoon drive gave us a rare glimpse at an African Pied Wagtail nest in a huge log that has been brought down the river in the floods. Amazing how every trip is always different. Only been in the park a few hours and already getting different pics to anything I've gotten before.

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Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2006 1:02 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks for the good feed back everyone – if it’s OK I’ll post a few more.

The first 2 mornings at Balule, I was greeted with a flat tyre :( ( yup – 2 in a row) so we never really got out of the camp very quickly but if you have this problem, the guy to see is ‘Isreal’ ,a wonderful, friendly guy at the Oliphants camp garage. He sorted everything out while we sat and ate more bacon and egg toasted sandwiches, this time looking out over a strongly flowing Oliphants river. It saddened me a lot to note the substantial changes to the river edge over the past 15 years. I have painted this view a few times and have good photo reference of it, and sadly many of the very large riverine trees that once lined the waters edge have now died. It’s easy to forget that this past winter the river actually stopped flowing for the first time in living memory and trees like the beautiful Fever Trees succumbed to the drought. Many of them died back in the early nineties during the drought years, but clearly the river is facing increasing pressure from outside the park.
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On a more positive note, with tyre back under the car – we headed out to once again enjoy the green and lush views where sometimes the grass was as tall as the elephants! :lol:

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Watching everything tucking in to this feast was a delight that kept kids amused for hours.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2006 7:30 pm 
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A few thoughts on birds seen as the second week of April is very borderline for migratory birds.

We did see European Rollers, Woodland Kingfishers and 1 or 2 other ‘summer visitors’, but not in big numbers and I suspect many of them had already left. No Wahlbergs Eagles, Yellow Billed Kites, Carmine Bee Eaters or European Bee Eaters as these were already a long way North on their travels.

Heading along the S100 late in the afternoon, we came across a Martial Eagle that was finishing off a White Faced Duck for it’s dinner.

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Later a zebra unexpectedly refused to move off the road and allowed us some very close shots including one of a juvenile Red Billed Oxpecker stealing strands from his tail. It’s more difficult with young kids in the car to do any serious birding (although I couldn’t help pointing out a noisy Rattling Cisticola) but we saw plenty birds to keep everyone happy.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 10:27 am 
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Virtual Ranger
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Thanks once again for checking out my first ever pics from the bush on digital. Still getting used to what it can and can't do.

@Salva- Glad you like the guineafowl - I always seem to focus on the more common species as these are often overlooked and although we did see lions once, it certainly wasn't a great photo opportunity.
@Nico - Got some worthwhile pics I think, but unfortunately nothing much to paint as I don't do animals, prefer to concentrate on the landscape and for that the park is seriously too green. No problem- I'll just have to go back in June :) :) :) Have a few more pics( only 4,- I promise!!!) so will try to post those later.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 7:00 pm 
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This is the last part of my report.

Camping at Balule, certainly has a lot going for it, it is small, probably quiet outside school holidays and of course close to some excellent areas around the Oliphants and Letaba Rivers. Hyenas visited the area every night looking for scraps and the staff are very friendly and well organized. Put it on your list of places to stay. ( Just leave me a spot every now and then!) :lol:

We came across a few good sightings special to this time of year –Impalas rams having a very serious fight for example, but the rivers were the most productive despite the huge amounts of available water everywhere. Visibility elsewhere is often not good.
My eldest son has a major fascination with reptiles and we had a good look at a few of these guys, especially this Water Monitor. Click on the pic to see just how long their tongue is!

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The Hyenas have a den about 1 km south of the gate and we witnessed them playing and interacting including some very rough play at times between a sub adult and a small pup. At times I seriously thought the pup was in danger but none of the others seemed too concerned and it didn’t yelp out loud or call for help. By this time it was too late for any good light ,so excuse the pics.
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Squeezing back into camp just before 6, I grabbed this one of a White Backed Vulture shaking out its down duvet before settling in for the night.

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 Post subject: Re: What camera ??
Unread postPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 8:07 am 
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Johan316 wrote:
Hi Peter,
Please tell us what didital camera and lenses you used


I use a Canon 5D and most of these were taken using a Canon 300mm f2.8 with the canon 1.4 converter. Always on a tripod and usually around F.8. (400 ASA) Most are nearly full frame images, not much cropping.
As I said, this was my first outing to the bush with digital, I still shot a few rolls of film as well.

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