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 Post subject: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist-KTP-December 2008
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2008 8:43 pm 
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We leave for Kgalagadi at 2h00 on Saturday morning, and should be at 2R in the heat of the day. :dance: By the time we get to Nossob that night I hope my son has seen his first ever leopard in the wild, :dance: and it will be his wife's first SANParks big game trip. My wife makes up the foresome, so I hope to provide some of her great photos for you to enjoy.
Will meet up with wanderw (my wife's coz), markw, eagle eyes and (what is their son's handle??) at 2R on 15th.

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 Post subject: Re: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:31 pm 
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Got back 2 hours ago.

Just gimme a chance, the silly season is in full swing here at the moment, but I will steal a few moments here & there to tell you of the drama, hilarity, splendour and difference of "The tale of two cities -- well, camps". You won't be disappointed, I promise.

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 Post subject: Re: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 10:29 pm 
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Got a few minutes to make a start.

I wanted to be on the N7 after picking up my son, Antibird and his wife Hottie, by 2h00 and we made it a 1h57. Antibird & Hottie?? He is not very partial to birding to say the least and she got very hot in the heat and didn't quite take the advice given to stay cool.
We got to 2R by 14h00, and it is great to report that the road is tarred to within 200 metres of the 2R entry gate. :dance:
After checking in, we still had to do the 150 km to Nossob, but were told that the Confluence to Kij Kij bit was closed owing to recent rain, adding another 60 or so. We set off and found that the C-KK road was open, so we took it. Skiddy corner (my nickname for the worst affected bit) was a mess, and no wonder it will be upgraded early next year. Soon my gleaming fire engine was mud splattered, but nothing like it looks now :twisted: , I am taking it to work tomorrow to show them what a REAL 4x4 looks like.

To be continued

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 Post subject: Re: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 18, 2008 9:34 pm 
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We set about the serious business of getting to Nossob after a hard drive from Cape Town and were soon in amongst the banker species, gnu and springbok, but there also seemed to be an explosion of ostriches.
As we headed North, we stopped like Kruger of old, to exchange sighting info, and were told of 14 lions on Marie se Draai - Marie again!! :dance:
With great anticipation we were in high but tired spirits as we came across this fellow, the only bird Antibird got excited about, as he had had to do a project on a bird at junior school and chose His Majesty, the king of the sky.

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Martial eagle :clap:

When we got to Melkvlei, we were reminded that it was a place to have a meal.

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We also saw a nice looking blonde chick :wink:

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Tawny eagle that is.

We approached Marie se Draai, and before the turn off we could see the traffic jam - Kgal style - 6 cars. My son's wife, Hottie, had never seen lions in the wild, so we were all getting excited, and I turned into M se D, and looked in vain for the pride. We drew near to the first vehicle, and were shown a spot were the solitary remaining lioness was lying down. She got up, turned and lay down again. What a swizz. OK, Hottie had seen a lion at 80 metres briefly. Big deal.
We left the waiting cars and took the Draai, and at Marie se Gat (Why don't they change....) we found 4 more cars looking at....well not much. I asked the guy in the vehicle on pole position with a metre-long lens sticking out of his car, what was happening. "Nothing, we're waiting for the lions". I was too tired to guffaw, (here I apologise for offending you if you wait for lions) "They have left the sleeping spot and we think they are headed to the waterhole". This time, tired or not, I couldn't hold it in. The pride won't leave a lioness behind, they were just out of sight. When I saw him next morning, he had got some lovely shots of lizards, and mice, but the lions did not arrive!
OK, back to the business. We checked in in the heat, and had a brief fruitless ride northwards, Antibird braaied while I checked out the hide and saw where the webcam was, plus a few jackals, spotted thick knees, and a barn owl. We hit the sack hard!
There seemed to be a lack of predators around Nossob, but there was no shortage of raptors, but that is for next time.

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 Post subject: Re: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 1:58 pm 
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Caracal wrote:
Gosh :shock: I don't think I would enjoy a tea break looking at that carcass at Melkvlei !!!

Africa is not for sissies Caracal. There was no smell.

Will continue as soon as I can. I have started a new job and tried to sneak in from work. I can! but I think big brother watches.

Thank you all for your encouraging comments. It gets better......

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 Post subject: Re: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 19, 2008 10:52 pm 
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Before I continue, let me say that we did this trip to give my son and his wife a final safari before they leave exactly a month from today, to emigrate to Canada. She had only been to M*bul* once, in June and never to a ‘game reserve’. My birding largely took a back seat, as I was outnumbered, and wanted to make this a memorable experience for them both. Raptors however, were numerous and permitted. We also went because I enjoy going.
For the record, on the first day, Saturday 13 December, and night (at the hide), we saw 1 lion, 64 oryx, 98 gnu, 410 springbok (give or take a few!), 5 red hartebeest, 10 black backed jackal, 1 ground squirrel and 1 steenbok.

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When a man must go a man must go!
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Bird wise, included secretary bird, martial & tawny eagle, black chested snake eagle, bateleur, lanner falcon, greater kestrel, gabar & pale chanting goshawk, kori bustard, ostrich (like an epidemic!), white backed & lappet faced vulture, shaft-tailed whydah, rufouscheeked nightjar & barn owl.

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 Post subject: Re: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 1:11 pm 
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OK Ingrid, the captain is out, so now I have a few minutes.

Sunday 14 December saw a queue at the gate by 5h20, all champing at the bit to get down Marie se Draai. (Literally, Mary’s loop). The gates opened and the convoy kicked up dust, as it sped along. Apart from the usual quartet of gnu, oryx, red harties and springbok, the only sightings were some kudu and the usual raptors, so we took the dune road back to camp and then headed north to see if we could find the cheetah moms and cubs, or the leopard on the Bedinkt cairn. No such luck, just an abundance of raptors. We were hot and not in good humour, as expectations were not being met, and my integrity was being questioned. Nossob was letting me down for the first time ever.
Back in camp we had breakfast, at about 9, and a swim as it was already hot. To amuse myself while the others dozed, I went to the hide and stuck my fingers in front of the webcam. Anyone see something odd round 10h00 on Sunday?
My son lit the braai, and the clouds that had built up decided to put on the show for the day. We had a great thunderstorm. It really came down, and I remembered Caracal’s trip report where the Kalahari girls got stuck for days in Nossob. That would be great! It was cool now, but it moved east into Bots. My wife told my son to braai in the rain, but he told her the fire would go out. To cut a long argument short, she was right and maybe I can make an ad for Ch*rk* brickettes, because we could have braaied if we had not eaten other stuff.
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Right! Rain stopped. Cool! Let’s go! Down to Marie’s again and still no activity except paddling PCGs,
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so we went north where we met some git who told us that he had seen the cheetah mom & 3 cubs at Kwang just after the rain. That really got the mood going. At least we saw some foxes on the way back.
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But this was how we amused ourselves.
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This was the road.
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Remember to wind the windows up.


Sorry, but I have to get this most uneventful day, one of my all time least successful out of the way, but it gets better – much better so hang in please.
I went to the hide for a futile time, while Antibird braaied, and the hightlight of my day, apart from the storm, was skinny dipping in the Nossob pool in the dark. Can you see me?
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Animals seen; 3 bat eared fox, 3 Cape fox, 19 oryx, 322 gnu (give or take a few!), 55 springbok, 30 red hartebeest, 5 black backed jackal, including one that fancied our braai , 3 ground squirrel, 1 yellow mongoose and 1 steenbok.
Birds included many of yesterdays lot and red necked falcon, swallow tailed bee-eater, lilac breasted roller, crimson breasted shrike, Burchell’s and Cape glossy startling and red headed finch, most seen in camp as I did the delightful trail north of the shop.
Image
Tawny take off!
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 Post subject: Re: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 4:58 am 
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Thanks BB
Love the tawny take off :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up:
lp

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 Post subject: Re: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:03 pm 
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Thanks all for your comments, I had a good laugh, and I am in high spirits after seeing Smithy & the boys, no, men winning in Cape Town part 2. No wonder the Aussies didn't want a test in Perth!

I am sure you would rather see a pic of me in the dark that in the flash (literally and figuratively).

My son's knocking woke me up, after my alarm had failed and we left Nossob 15 minutes late. :redface: I was quite down as I have always had great sightings at Nossob, but you can't win them all, hey Ricky!

Marie's was again disappointing but a bit farther south we got excited at this vulture tree.

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We scanned the area in vain for a reason for their presence.
Then a great shot of a PCG
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A bit further a couple of SUVs drove past a stationery golf, and we stopped to look. My wife spotted a lion shaped rock protruding slightly from the long grass. We all looked and it moved..... :dance: She eventually moved out and lay down under a tree out of sight.
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This unfortunate puffie marked the spot in the road.
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Nice. At least Hottie had now seen a decent lion quite close up. We got to Dikbaardskolk and had breakfast and Antibird and I scanned the ground and concluded that either a caracal or African wild cat had been there before us that morning. A foreign lady then showed us tracks we thought to be leopard, over the other tracks. They led past the gents toilet, and I sheepishly looked there in vain. We took the dune road and had only crested 2 rises when I stared into a pair of pale yellow eyes under a tree next to the road while everyone else was scanning afar. I yelled , turned and we found this lovely lady who after a while realized we meant her no harm.
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The tracks going past the gents...this lady 400 metres away.... 2+2=4!

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Last edited by Bush Baptist on Sun Dec 21, 2008 6:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 21, 2008 6:55 pm 
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Sadly I think the puffy was dead, :( it looks like it has been run over. We did not want to prod it however, in case it wasn't :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 22, 2008 11:23 pm 
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The dune roads are where you find oryx, as we encountered 37 on this top dune road.
I don’t know if the roads have names or numbers like Kruger, probably not, as there are so few, but I would like to call the upper dune road Oryx Drive, from our experience and the lower dune road Jackal and Bustard Boulevard.
At this point, I hatched a cunning plan. The others wanted to drive straight to 2R, but I felt that our petrol situation looked a bit dicey. We would probably have made it, but I decided not to take any chances, so we turned north west towards Mata Mata, and hopefully cheetah and lions. 13th and 14th boreholes have been lion hotspots recently, but we saw hardly anything, even the giraffes had taken a hike. We heard rumours of good sightings, which did not materialize, but when we got to Monro, we saw a pile of life under a tree right next to the road. I immediately recognised what it was, and kept quiet.
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As we approached, a great shout went up from my son, and we stopped about a metre and a half from this family group, doing what lions do best at midday – nothing.
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The male did not even open his eyes. He still doesn’t know who was gawking at him. Hottie had well and truly seen lions now! AND we had them to ourselves the whole time. Kruger1dimentionals eat your heart out!

We drove off a little way and a nice couple stopped and we exchanged info. LIT at confluence. LIT AT CONFLUENCE!!!! 20 km away. I set off on a mission. I had been taking a bit of a pasting at Nossob because I had talked it up and it had let me down. Antibird had ightfully been scoring points off me. He has been to Kruger umpteen times and never seen leopard. This was my opportunity to shut his gob up real tight! At the end of the Aob river road, I glanced left. One solitary tree at the confluence. No cars, D*****t another nearly leopard. We drove slowly past but there he was, high up in the branches. I turned the car, and we had a great view of this hot panting spottie for 20 minutes without another car in sight.
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Kruger1dimentionals eat....... Now Antibird was as pleased as a pig in muck, 100% hit rate for leopard in Kgal! The diatribe ceased immediately. When we got to 2R, we decided not to share the info, but everyone already knew! After checking in and meeting Markw and Wanderw & family, with whom we swam, plus about 20 others, we returned to the LIT, but this time there was a traffic jam – 5 cars. After a while we took the Nossob river route with M&W, who pointed out 2 sleeping spotted hyenas. We went to Rooiputs camping area and returned to prepare for a night ride. Standby.
Animals seen; 1 leopard (LIT), 8 lion, 74 oryx, 123 gnu, 554 springbok(give or take a few), 10 red hartebeest, 8 black backed jackal, 2 spotted hyena, 3 ground squirrel, 4 leopard tortoise, 1 dead looking puff adder and 2 steenbok.
Birds included many of yesterdays lot. New ones were SA shelduck, crowned lapwing, spotted eagle owl, Kalahari scrub-robin and chestnut vented titbabbler.

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 Post subject: Re: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2008 7:23 pm 
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Thanks one and all for your kind remarks. Timing is everything, but experience also helps sometimes.

After a brief discussion with M&W, the eight of us decided to do a night ride, and when we went to book, we found out that there were only 2 people booked on the sunset ride, and nobody else on the night ride. I found that very strange for a full camp. After a bit BB persuasion and creative customer service, the rides were combined into one, starting at gate closing time. When we arrived for the ride the other 2 had swelled to 5, who seemed to be locals who knew each other.
The ride started and unfortunately ranks as the most unpleasant activity I have ever had in 52 mostly exceedingly happy years worth of SANParks activities. Suffice it to say that I have reported it and it is under investigation.
Animals seen; 7 lion, 3 bat eared fox, 2 Cape fox, 1 oryx, 1 Cape cobra!, 28 springbok, 1 scrub hare, 13 Kalahari kangaroo aka spring hare, 4 black backed jackal, and 2 steenbok.
Birds seen & ID’d; Verreaux’s eagle owl, spotted eagle owl, pale chanting goshawk, white quilled korhaan:

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 Post subject: Re: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2008 4:52 pm 
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As my son was enjoying the magnificent view across the Nossob river from chalet number 11 towards Two Rivers in the pre dawn semi darkness, he saw a figure stooped over a dustbin a few chalets away. It looked odd and he investigated. The figure became the biggest hyena he can remember, and it casually loped past him off into the dissipating gloom. Nice start to the day. It was also nice to be first in the queue at the gate although Hottie decided to sleep in today.
We (or rather, I) decided to do a clockwise loop before breakfast, to Auchterlonie, over Jackal & Bustard Boulevard to Kij Kij and back to 2R. The lions at Monro had disappeared overnight, and we had a pit stop at Auch, where Antibird had some fun in the loo with one of his tormentors, a ground agama I am amused that this 1.9 metre (6 foot 4) pile of muscle who fears nobody, can run to daddy to protect him from a 5 inch lizard. On the dune road we saw a kill. A PCG grabbed a rat off the road and flew away with it in its claws.
Image
Secretarybird strutting.

At Kij Kamies, Antibird and I saw them at the same time.
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They were 2 of 4 lionesses there. We took the hill rise road and stopped to look down on the lions, but one got a bit skittish and they moved off. This was our second lion sighting on consecutive days on the dune roads, something I do not previously recall. A few minutes later, great excitement! Antibird spotted a honey badger and a jackal. It was a brief sighting, but we all saw it. I was able to explain the synergy between the two and the missing PCG.

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 Post subject: Re: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 26, 2008 9:44 pm 
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Ingrid & Anne-marie standby - you aint seen nuthin yet!

Something that I had eaten required to be let out urgently as we came to Kiy Kiy, and I turned left for the Melkvlei picnic site, the closest amenities. Just as well, my ‘gut feel’ (ha ha ha) paid off as we had only gone about 3 km when we came across this delightful scene.
Image
Image
I cannot remember seeing smaller cubs. They crawled all over mum and aunts, preventing them from getting their sleep. They had not moved after my relief, so we reckoned they were there for the day, and would bring Hottie later. All trip long we had been talking about the incredible luck that M&W have, their double cheetah kill, leopard kills, eland thirst kills ad nauseum, but now we had something they did not. About 4 km towards home, who should we bump into, yeah, you guessed correctly. They were on the way to Nossob and would pass the pride. You just can’t beat some people. We wished each other well and parted.
We told Hottie about the lions over breakfast. We spent the heat of the day swimming, shopping, sleeping and getting ready for the next day’s long trip home.
We decided to do the same loop in reverse in the afternoon to show Hottie the lions, and they were under the same tree, but had followed the shade. The cubs were still climbing over the patient adults. At Kiy Kamies, we went up the hilltop thingy, and I saw the back end of a lion against the dam wall. Can you believe it, but this solitary female started heading off in the direction taken by the ones in the morning. Back on the Aob river road we saw a spotted eagle owl, and at Houmoed we had another trip-making sighting. Our best ever honey badger.
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Why do they wait until you have time problems. We watched this lovely chap for as long as we could, and then gapped it for 2R, making it with seconds to spare (as usual). The badger was digging around, probably for food, and flicking the sand between his back legs. He dug so deep that once or twice he disappeared into the hole, before emerging to dig another.
Animals seen; 11 lion, 2 honey badger, 1 spotted hyena, 5 Cape fox, 24 oryx, 177 gnu (give or take a few!), 1180 springbok exactly (we counted the legs and divided by 4), 2 red hartebeest, 3 black backed jackal, 4 ground squirrel, 2 yellow mongoose, 1 leopard tortoise and 4 steenbok.
‘New’ birds; white faced duck (yes, at the 2R waterhole!), pygmy falcon (at last!), African hoopoe, Fawn-coloured lark (lifer – I should have bought the R20 ID sheet at the beginning of ther trip), grey headed sparrow.

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 Post subject: Re: Bush Baptist becomes Desert Baptist
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 28, 2008 4:08 pm 
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Onewithnature: Badgers are easier to spot in Kgal than in Kruger, but you still have to be lucky! Get there man
Ingrid60: 4 nights go too quickly :x
Caracal: You're on the road now, good luck :wink:
MM: this one was totally engrossed in what he was going and we didn't exist!
Dreamer: Marie, like all women get, was just in a bad mood and not prepared to show us what she was hiding :roll:
Lorrainepring: JP Duminy - remember that name, you'll hear it again
Janeli:First time? If so, you will HAVE to wait. Wanderw, Caracal & I plus others can just keep the appetite up!
To all of you who have read this report. Thanks for allowing me to share a lovely brief time with you.

It was a much happier Antibird and Hottie that sat under the Verreaux’s eagle and bateleur in the restaurant later that night, as we tucked into venison pie. The trip got better every day, and although we didn’t see cheetah, Antibird’s favourite cat, it was not because we hadn’t tried. They will always remember their first leopard sighting and the best HB one, and I hope the Kalahari sand got into their shoes.

I stood outside number 11 and enjoyed the pre dawn moments, and it ranks with any of a dozen places that breathe energy into my soul. Alas we had to leave, but the birding was not yet over. 80 km south of 2R, I saw a martial eagle on the fence pole, and others on the trip home were blackshouldered kite, steppe & jackal buzzard, rock & greater kestrel, pearl breasted swallow, and Cape and house sparrow.

A few footnotes.
Wanderw is my wife’s cousin
The only scorpion we saw was on a night ride
We only saw 3 snakes – 2 dead.
Not many insects, far less than expected.

Till next time......

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