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 Post subject: Arks' KNP Trip Report: 10, 11 May 2006: Talamati
Unread postPosted: Sun Jul 30, 2006 10:09 pm 
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Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)
Part One

Talamati bushcamp
I did not care for Talamati at all. This may have been at least in part due to my being by this point in my trip a bit overtired, due to the many days of long drives, which no matter how rewarding, do take their toll when you are doing all the driving alone. However, I also didn't much care for the location, as the bungalows lack any sort of view. They do all face onto a dry riverbed, but this riverbed view is obscured by shrubs and trees, and there did not appear to be any activity in the riverbed whilst I was there. And while I could hear birds about, I saw little apart from a few squirrels in the camp.

My bungalow was #4 and its furnishings seemed to me to be rather shabby and worn, plus the new energy-saving lightbulbs the camp was installing meant that all the inside lighting was extremely dim. I reported to reception that one light bulb was out altogether and that the bulb over the basin in the bathroom was so dim that I could hardly see my face, but as it turned out, the replacement bulbs were no brighter. While I can appreciate a wish to save energy, I do think that the bulbs used should provide adequate illumination.

Perhaps I'd been spoiled the outgoing and helpful staff at Lower Sabie, as well as the special warmth of Biyamiti, but the staff at Talamati seemed at best indifferent — when you could find them. This is a camp that definitely needs someone who knows the meaning of "hospitality" and of an adequate level of customer service.

While the cold weather wasn't anyone's fault, morning and evening temperatures of as low as 5C meant that it became too chilly to sit outside early in the evening, and was truly frigid by morning. While chilly mornings at Lower Sabie didn't keep me from taking my coffee outside to enjoy the lovely river view, at Talamati, with nothing to look at, these mornings felt even colder than they were. To be fair, I'm sure that the morning temps at Lower Sabie were never so low as only 5C, probably more like 9-10C, which is chilly enough. Perhaps Talamati, with all the shrubs and trees, is also lots cooler than other camps during the hotter months? As well, the inadequately dim interior lighting made spending time inside the chalet unpleasant, so apart from sleeping, and having a quick evening braai before it got too cold, I spent as little time in the camp as possible.

10 May - Lower Sabie - Talamati

The H10, which I had not driven in many years, is a very scenic route, passing Muntshe mountain and crossing several streams and vast grassy plains before climbing to the Nkumbe viewpoints. I was rewarded this morning with an excellent sighting of three white rhino, and later, atop Nkumbe, my first sighting of what I'm pretty sure was a black eagle!

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Is this a black eagle?

Later on, while avoiding the dreadful S36 as much as possible, I drove several roads, all new to me, that run between it and the H1-3. On the S34 I had a really close view of what I think must be an immature raptor, but I've no idea which raptor it might be.

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help with ID, please?

Later, on the S33 Vutomi Road, I encountered four different ellie groups, two of them quite large breeding herds with lots of youngsters, including one who was having a bit of fun kicking a small rock about like it was a football, and then picking it up with his trunk and tossing it onto his back (I have this on video, but no still pix of him).

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sightings
H10: warthog, impala, giraffe, zebra, bull elephant, wildebeest, ?tawny eagle, many LBJs, purple roller, white rhino, bataleur, ?black eagle
H1-3: nothing
S34: impala, immature ?eagle
S33: impala, warthog, giraffe, long green snake (possibly boomslang? But no pix), Egyptian geese, whitefaced whistling ducks, ?mystery ducks, MANY ellies (2 breeding herds, 2 smaller groups)
H1-3: nothing
S86: nothing
H1-3: hippo, waterbuck, wildebeest, impala, ?martial eagle, woolynecked stork
S125: giraffe, impala
S36: impala, baboons, crowned plovers
S145: ellies
S144: impala, vervet monkeys, whitebacked vulture

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any ID ideas for these LBJs?
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Last edited by arks on Sun Mar 02, 2008 4:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Arks' KNP Trip Report: 10, 11 May 2006: Talamati
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 4:48 am 
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Part Two

11 May - Talamati - Satara - Talamati
This morning is very cold, which has me wondering, first, why is it so much colder here at Talamati than it has been elsewhere, and second, why does it seem that early May in KNP is overall colder than I remember it being in July 2000? Is May perhaps the coldest month in these parts, rather than the midwinter months? Curious ....

In any case, clearly the warmest place to be is in my car with the heater going, so since the gate is already open when I arrive, I leave camp a bit before the legal gate-opening time. Before long I encounter a small family group of elephant and while I am watching them, a hyena appears and sets off down the track where two ellies are browsing — and all hell breaks loose as one of the ellies trumpets and charges the hyena, repeatedly. I quickly move out of their way and watch the action in my wing mirror, as the ellie chases the hyena out into the road behind me and then off into the bush. Despite the rising sun behind them, I have some dramatic video (but no stills) of this early morning action.

About 20 minutes later, still on the S140, I met a breeding herd of ellies, which blocked my way effectively for some time until a larger and more impatient car arrived from the other direction. Later I had a really up close view of a warthog, which dashed across the road in front of me and dove into his roadside burrow, an old anthill. I backed up and waited a bit and was rewarded when the warthog re-emerged and gave me a fine photo op before again crossing the road and disappearing.

After a stop at Satara for coffee and snack, I headed south and shortly after turning into the S37, I had one of my very few negative encounters with jeep jockeys. Two trucks bearing the same logo sped past me in quick succession, clearly going well over the 40km speed limit and leaving me in their dust. They were going far too fast for me to read the company name, I could only note that the logo was a circle with script-type writing and a series of what looked like four off-white steps, shortest to the left and tallest to the right. So far I've not been able to determine what company this is, so if anyone has any ideas, I'd be delighted to know. I had another encounter with these okes racing past me again several days later, but I can't report them if I don't know the company name!

Later on, as I came round a bend farther along the S37, I was just in time for a glimpse of the backside of a very large leopard, as he crossed the road and disappeared into thick bush -- so close that I might almost have hit him! Again, no pix, and not even video this time as the sighting was really over in a flash of a few seconds. This road also produced one of the largest groups of zebra I've ever encountered, definitely more than 100 altogether, spread out along both sides of the road for a considerable distance, seemed to go on for ages!

sightings
S140: family group of ellies, hyena, kestrel, breeding herd of ellies
S106: giraffe, warthog, Burchell's coucal, impala, doublebanded sandgrouse
H7: nothing
S12: ?mystery plover, impala, baboon, Egyptian geese, whitefaced whistling ducks, ?mystery duck/goose
S40: giraffe, whitebacked vulture, zebra, redbilled oxpecker, redcrested korhaan
S39: nothing
S127: giraffe
H1-4: ostriches, Cape buffalo
H1-3: zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, bull elephant
H6: Namaqua doves, zebra, purple roller, wildebeest, impala
S37: impala, African jacana, terrapins, waterbuck, crocodile, ellies, steenbok, leopard, purple roller, wildebeest, yellowbilled hornbill, warthog, many (100+) zebra, crowned plover, 2 more ellie bulls
H1-3: waterbuck, impala, woolynecked stork, whitefaced whistling ducks, ?mystery ducks, bull elephant
S126: wildebeest, impala, zebra, giraffe
S36: dwarf mongoose
S145: nothing

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Can anyone ID this plover, please?
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Last edited by arks on Sun Mar 02, 2008 4:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Arks' KNP Trip Report: 10, 11 May 2006: Talamati
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:47 am 
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arks wrote:
Can anyone ID this plover, please?

Hi arks,
It's a bronzewinged courser.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2006 4:01 pm 
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@arks

Applied some of my Photoshop tricks to your pics and here's what I think.

1. Not a Verreaux's Eagle (Black), sorry arks :( Personally I think it is a Lappetfaced Vulture. Tail- and headshape seems right. White pattern on wings and the white thighs point to Lappetfaced. Black Eagle's white on the wings are closer to the tips. They also have very distinct yellow feet and bill which you can't miss, can't see this on your pic.
When I lightened and enlarged your pic a little bit it became somewhat clearer.
Image

2. I would say juv. Brown Snake-eagle. Only other option would've been Black-chested Snake-eagle but juv BSA have the whitish legs while BCSE's are more yellow. BCSE is also more of a red-brown colour while the BSA is brown like the adult with white blotches in between.

3. My initial guess was Levaillant's Cisticola, only because it is the cisticola I've seen most and I remember the name :D After chatting to JB I would agree with her to it probably being a Rattling Cisticola, the most common one found in bushveld terrain.

4. And like Katja said Bronze-winged Courser. Very nice sighting for daytime. They're usually seen at night.

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Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
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Latest lifers from Kruger NP:
Black Coucal Centropus grillii Swartvleiloerie
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