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 Post subject: Arks' KNP Trip Report: May 2006: Skukuza
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 9:58 pm 
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Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)
Part One

Skukuza restcamp
I arrived at Skukuza to discover that I'd been allocated what might well be the worst possible BD2 location — with the road to the Selati restaurant at its back, the main road through the whole section to the right and a communal kitchen in front (even tho this category of rondavel includes cooking facilities). Granted, I had not put in a request for a specific unit because I had no way of knowing which units were BD2 (central reservations can't/won't supply this information and there is no indication on the camp map), but given that I had made my reservation the full 11 months in advance, I'd expected something better than this. However, there was a large group attending a golfing event and apparently they had been given all the better units and the rest of us had to make do with the dregs.

I would have upgraded to a riverview bungalow on the spot, but the camp was also fully booked, and I was at first told that absolutely nothing else was available. After considerable negotiation, I was given a marginally better location, still facing the main road through the accommodation area, but without the communal kitchen and T-junction traffic. Unfortunately, I was not warned about the vervets, so returned from my visit to the internet cafe to find my stoep awash with juice — not so bad as my neighbors, who had broken eggs all over theirs. There were no warning notices about the vervets (as there are about vervets or/and baboons at other camps), plus the recently acquired new fridge was too large to fit into the existing enclosure, so stood in front of it, leaving almost no space on the stoep. :roll: :twisted:

I had not booked a riverside bungalow from the outset because they are substantially more expensive, at R920, than the BD2 at R515 — far more of a price difference between the standard and a more "luxury" choice(s) than at other camps. Overall, I find KNP prices extremely reasonable, especially as they are generally for 2-4 people. However, since I am traveling alone, R920 becomes a bit too expensive an option for me. Probably in future I will simply find an alternative to Skukuza, although in the past I've always had a quiet and comfortable location, and I do find the camp well-situated for a wide variety of rewarding drives.

While I've never spent a lot of time in camps — indeed, in future I need to plan to spend a bit more time in order to do some in-camp exploring — I do look forward to relaxing on my stoep when I return after a long day's drive. Wherever I am, when I returned to camp I'm always quite tired and look forward to putting my feet up, having a relaxing glass of wine, and enjoying the view when there is one or at least the surrounding birdlife and the sounds of the bush. Here at Skukuza, my view was of the passing cars and there was traffic until quite late in the evening, likely people driving to and returning from the restaurant. It was the most unpleasant two evenings I have ever spent in KNP and has really put me off Skukuza — although I suppose it would be just fine for anyone who only uses their rondavel to sleep.

3 May - Tamboti - Skukuza
Today dawned bright and sunny, although still quite chilly, and I lingered over my toast (this tent had a toaster!!) and coffee, enjoying my view over the riverbed. There were lots of footprints and deep indentations in the sand where that hyena had been lying right below my deck the previous evening. I could hear plenty of birds in the surrounding trees — I love how the trees seem to enfold the tent — and was visited by a very entertaining pair of redbilled woodhoopoes. I lingered as long as possible and only left camp shortly before 0900. It was nice to know that I would be returning for another night on the 16th!

After reading so many positive forum reports about the S36, I planned today to travel its length. Unfortunately, I found the road to be in very poor repair, without doubt the very worst road I drove during this trip — and over the course of a month, I drove nearly every road in the park. In addition to being extremely corrugated, it also proved to be one of the least rewarding roads of my entire trip. Sightings were few and, apart from the first of the very few ostriches I saw in the park, nothing out of the ordinary.

sightings
Tamboti tented camp: redbilled woodhoopoes, whitebacked vulture
Tamboti access road: kudu, impala, tree squirrels, crowned plovers
H7: wildebeest, impala, Cape buffalo, baboons, warthogs
S36: blackshouldered kite, slender mongoose, tree squirrel, purple roller, ostrich, impala, paradise whydah, chameleon, bataleur, kudu, waterbuck, giraffe, impala, grey heron, African jacana, crocodile
H1-2: impala, 3 adult ground hornbills, giraffe
in camp: lizard with blue tail (ID anyone?)

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can anyone help with lizard ID please?
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also can anyone ID these "beanpod" trees?

_________________
RSA 2014
20-16 Oct Joburg
27-30 Oct Mapungubwe: Limpopo forest tented camp, Leokwe camp
31 Oct-1 Nov Pafuri River Camp
2-15 Nov KNP: Punda Maria, Sirheni, Olifants, Tamboti, Skukuza
16-22 Nov Cape Town
23 Nov-20 Jan Darling


Last edited by arks on Fri Feb 29, 2008 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Ark's trip report
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 10:46 pm 
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Hallo Ark

The lizard looks like a Five-lined or Rainbow Skink (mabuya
quinquetaeniata)

Juveniles and sub adult males are dark olive-brown to black above, with three distinct bluish-white stripes that are brilliant electric-blue on the tail.

I stand to be corrected.


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 Post subject: Ark's trip report
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 11:02 pm 
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Hallo again

The tree is a Sjambok pod (cassia abbreviata)

Ellie's, giraffe,kudu and njalas feed on the leaves and a variety of birds eat the seed.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 11:53 pm 
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Hi Arks,

The redbilled woodhoopoe has been renamed the green WH.

Great bateleur in flight photos.

_________________
Whatever (according to BB): "You are correct but I don't want to admit it".


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 Post subject: Arks' KNP Trip Report: 3, 4 May 2006: Skukuza
Unread postPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 4:02 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 5:53 pm
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Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)
Part Two

4 May - Skukuza - Hazyview - Skukuza
Today is the halfway point of my trip and time for me to do a resupply run to the Pick ‘n Pay in Hazyview. I'm awake early and since there's no reason for me to linger on my stoep, I'm out the gate shortly after it opens. Along the H11, I spot some hyena emerging from their den and heading up a no entry road. There appear to be 6 or 7 adults, and if there are also pups, I don't see them. I was soon joined by a jeep jockey, who obviously didn't know about the hyena, since he was speeding past when he realised that I was looking at something "worthwhile". :twisted:

The hyena were soon out of sight and I decided that since I had plenty of time (I didn't need to get to Hazyview too early), I would visit the Lake Panic birdhide, as I'd never been there. I usually have little luck at birdhides (perhaps I'm too impatient and don't stick around long enough), but I really enjoyed Lake Panic. It was magical in the early morning light with the mists (or was it hippo breath?) rising off the water, and there were lots of different birds to see, several new to me, and knowledgeable birders to help with ID. Most of the birds were too far away for pix (except for ID purposes), even with my 300mm lens, and trying to photograph LBJs flitting through the reeds was definitely challenging, but if I can ever work out the ID of some of my LBJ pix, I may have a few more new ticks. One bit of behaviour that I'd not noticed before was how the African jacana turns over each lilypad, I'd guess looking for food on the underside. 8)

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I was told that this is a juvenile gymnogene
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LBJs in the reeds — can anyone help with ID?
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When I left over a hour later, I encountered a group of dwarf mongooses frolicking alongside the road. I was disappointed when some of the birders in a large SUV showed no interest in the mongooses and whizzed past me, but fortunately the mongooses weren't as bothered as I was and were quickly out in the road to see what the SUV might have turned up.

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The S3, which has always been a favourite road for me, had been closed due to flood damage when I was last here in July 2000, so it was a special pleasure to drive it once again. I saw a magnificent fish eagle and had a very brief glimpse of a male bushbuck as he dashed across the road and into the thick bush, and the views over the river and along the several spruits leading down to it are as lovely as I remembered.

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It's a quick trip into Hazyview from the lovely new Phabeni Gate and I was soon back in the park and heading back to Skukuza with my groceries. This time I drove the S1, which had brought me a leopard in 2000, but was considerably less rewarding this time.

After stowing my groceries, barricading my fridge against the vervets, and replenishing my snacks and drinks, I decided to head towards the S114. My neighbors had had some good sightings on that road earlier, including a lioness walking alongside their car. I didn't find a lioness, but I did find a few cars gathered watching three lazy young lions — and for a change they were right out in the open and quite close to the road. As other cars left, I was able to move a bit and got into an excellent position, so although there wasn't much activity — which is why most people moved on, staying at the most 15 minutes — I decided to stay put and just see what happened. Nothing much did, but even so, for me it was a most rewarding — and relaxing — afternoon, just watching these big cats do the things all cats do, snooze, stretch, wash a bit, roll over, and snooze some more.

sightings
morning drive
H11: hyena, impala
Lake Panic birdhide: hippo, pied kingfisher, darter, black crake, woodland kingfishers, hamerkop, hadeda ibis, ?weaver, hoopoe, ?heron, many LBJs, ?gymnogene, redbilled woodhoopoe, immature African jacana, Burchell's coucal
Lake Panic road: dwarf mongooses, crested francolin
H11: waterbuck
S3: slender mongoose, baboons, fish eagle, zebra, ?lizard, BBJ, bushbuck, impala, giant kingfisher, Egyptian geese
S1: waterbuck, hamerkop, pied wagtail, kudu, impala, giraffe, zebra
H11: nothing
afternoon drive
H1-1: waterbuck
S114: dwarf mongoose, impala, crowned plovers, 3 lazy lions

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15:06 #3 lion made a brief appearance shortly after I arrived, then was never seen again, except by those in safari trucks, which were high enough for guests to see over the tall grass
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16:27 nearly 1 1/2 hours later and little has happened apart from a few tail twitches and rollovers, and then ...
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and back to sleep :lol:
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17:00 now that it's time to be thinking about getting back to camp, there begins to be a bit more activity ...
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17:17 ... but not for long and as the sun sets behind the lazy lions, I am the next to last car to leave the sighting and will likely be late getting back to camp
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_________________
RSA 2014
20-16 Oct Joburg
27-30 Oct Mapungubwe: Limpopo forest tented camp, Leokwe camp
31 Oct-1 Nov Pafuri River Camp
2-15 Nov KNP: Punda Maria, Sirheni, Olifants, Tamboti, Skukuza
16-22 Nov Cape Town
23 Nov-20 Jan Darling


Last edited by arks on Fri Feb 29, 2008 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 12:00 pm 
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@arks

Played around with your pic in Photoshop a bit. It sure does look like a African Harrier-hawk (Gymnogene) to me. Not quite sure but it could be a sub-adult, the colour seems to be still a bit on the brown side moulting over to grey.

Had a quick look at the first LBJ. First thought was Tawny-flanked Prinia. And a 'youngish' bird looking at the bill colour.
Could possibly be some Warbler but I don't think so, the tail seems too long. Which points to Prinia again. Can you remember if it was flicking its tail up-and-down all the time?

I might be completely wrong here. Will have a closer look again a bit later and also have a go at the other one.

_________________
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
Albert Einstein

Latest lifers from Kruger NP:
Black Coucal Centropus grillii Swartvleiloerie
Flappet Lark Mirafra rufocinnamomea Laeveldklappertjie


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