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 Post subject: Mybs returns to KTP: November 2009
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2009 2:14 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
The fourth visit to KTP in 2009 was indeed another satisfying sojourn into this desert paradise and we were blessed with great weather and great sightings, including a couple of firsts for me after a total of 14 trips.

I've spent the past week sifting through the 10 000+ photos and will probably end up keeping and using around 300 only, but it sure is time consuming. One needs to be ruthless else the hard disks fill up so quickly.

We entered the park on the Friday afternoon. It was as thrilling to my SO and I this time as on any of the previous visits to enter through the gates with the friendly attendant welcoming us. The first 3 nights we were booked at TR and I was hoping to meet up with Mrs Leopard and young Miss Leopard again. Unfortunately this was not to be.

After unpacking the rather full Prado, I made sure all the camera equipment was set and we took our first leisurely drive accross the dune road. I was informed that the Nossob road would be closed to December 2010, what a pity as they initially said the the work will be completed by November 2009.

Just driving accross the dune road, where usually not much is to be seen, one builds up an expectation of what sightings one will be having during the next couple of days/weeks. I always am faced with the dilemma, does one stay at a good sighting (and take many photos) or does one move on to the next waterhole as there might be something special waiting there!

The Aoub riverbed looked extremely dry and we spotted a couple of Gemsbokke staring south. At Houmoed there was nothing so we moved on to Monro and as we approached, the parked cars indicated a sighting of something significant ... lions!

It was thrilling to see the lions next to the road, but also sad as they did not generally look in a good condition. In fact, the one 'old' lion looked extremely thin and sick. Hopefully the Sanparks officials will be able to determine if there is a risk of disease facing the KTP lions and hopefully, be able to do something about it.

We sat with the lions until it was time to return to camp.

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That was the end of our first day, more to follow.


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP: November 2009
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:30 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
Thanks for the comments. I did not include a photo of the worst looking of these lions as I found it rather upsetting myself.

Well, the next morning the lions were no longer at Monro and the valley appeared very desolate, extremely dry with not much animals or birds around. The lack of large raptors was disappointing, but maybe the lack of rain had something to do with it. They normally appear in large numbers after the first good rains.

Exactly 2.1 km south of Batulama I found the first Cape Fox den of the trip and the cubs were out playing. What fun to watch them play.

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Later, near Kamqua picnic site I came across the first of the two cheetah family groups currently roaming the Aoub riverbed. They were right next to the road but appeared on edge. I managed to take a couple of shots before they shot off across the riverbed (into sun) and spoilt any chance of better photos. I was to meet up with them again a bit later in the trip.

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During the afternoon we spotted this Double-banded Courser, which was my first sighting of this bird in the KTP.

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Also spotted the following birds during the quiet afternoon drive:

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More to follow.


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP: November 2009
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:54 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
The next morning I was out of the gate first again and still nothing at Samevloeiing and the Dune Road. In fact, there was not much to be seen (some Springbok and Blue Wildebeest only, but against the sun for photos) until I got to the Cape Fox den again. The pups were out playing again and i could not resist taking some more shots (skip if you find them boring):

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I then moved on to the famous Urikaruus hyena den and the pups were out, but as it was getting late and hot, they were not that playful. I did manage to get a few shots in before they went to sleep:

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After that I took a slow drive back to TR but saw nothing of special interest, the light also being too harsh for photography at that stage.

The afternoon drive did also not deliver 'major' sightings, but as usual the birds displayed well and provided some opportunities. There were an abundance of bee-eaters on this trip and they were nesting all over the place. I love bee-eaters and the photograph extremely well. I always seek out a perch with an uncluttered background as it makes the bird stand out more.

I took 100's of shots, and will share a few of the ones I like with you.

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Also found this Yellowbilled Hornbill and his mate; they seem to be becoming more abundant in the KTP, or maybe I'm just seeing more of them.

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More to follow...


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP: November 2009
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 2:25 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
Thanks for the comments and encouragement.

Our last night at TR before spending two nights at Urikaruus. We met up with forumite Deirdre and Ian and their 2 kids at TR and saw them often during the next few days. They had some exciting sightings so I encourage you to read her TR! The yellow ribbon worked!

No cat sightings on the morning drive, but once again the foxes were out. The mother had brought them a whistling rat to play with and this toy kept them busy for quite a while, presenting me with nice photo opportunities.

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And when he got tired of playing, the toy was good for eating.

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At 13th Borehole we came across two young kudus waiting their turn to drink. It took ages for them to actually get to the waterhole, making us suspect that there might be cats around but unfortunately we saw none.

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Some Gemsbokke playing:

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Some birds seen during the course of the morning:

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More later...


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP: November 2009
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 08, 2009 10:21 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
Thank you so much for taking the time to browse through my TR and photos, your comments are appreciated.

We spent 2 nights at Urikaruus which was brilliant as always and were privileged to see the leopard come down to drink one evening around 8h30. During the time we spent there I basically did not travel far distances as it is so nice just to sit on the stoep and take in the special Urikaruus atmosphere. It is a very special place indeed - thanks again to Caracal for the sighting books, they make for great reading!

We had the following sighting over the two days (won't post more Cape Fox pictures, but I did spend time at the den!):

An old lion early one morning at Dalkeith, note the lack of bottom teeth. He was roaring away right next to the car - always amazing to feel the power! This was taken right into the sun, but I like the effect.

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Another lion putting all his wares on display:

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We had some good AWC sightings on this trip and this one was at Dalkeith, just south of the waterhole:

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Later, I found these two in a tree in the loop to 14th Borehole. Cute.

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Kitten while mom was out hunting:

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Mom hissing at a genet in the tree.

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Springboks were abundant and this little one caught my eye.

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At the hyena den near Urikaruus the pups were out playing and I got some shots although the light was fading. It was a this stage that I met up with Mashona who told me about the contractor who stopped and fed the hyenas biltong (see the thread in another forum). As I stopped my car the hyenas came up to me sniffing and begging for food, like domestic dogs would do. Mashona reported the incident and it appears that Sanparks will be acting.

Portable KTP vending machine:

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The one pup had a bone and the game was for the other two pups to chase this one round the bush - just like human kids!

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Used some flash with this shot.

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Much more to follow...


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP: November 2009
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:53 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
Thanks for all the positive and encouraging responses, much appreciated. I have been busy the last couple of days and hence the delay in the next episode.

The next morning I, as usual, was out first (can't resist being the first out the gate!) and came across this AWC hunting in the road, using the side of the road as a hide to catch the birds in the shrubs. Never saw any kill, but the cat kept on trying. When more cars arrived she/he moved off.

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It was a quiet morning once again, but a bit later I saw some movement on the dunes and decided to wait. Mother cheetah and her 2 cubs were out hunting! Unfortunately, most of the action was beyond the dunes, but one of the cubs did pose pose now and again.

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At Dalkeith there were a couple of lions lazing about.

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The rest of the morning did not deliver great photographic opportunities. However, as I was driving back to camp at around 9h30, I got to a tree and saw an owl flying from the tree into another tree some 30 meters away. I thought it was odd for an owl to be flying that time of day so I slowly approached the tree to get a shot of the owl, now on the ground, but not really visible. As I approached, another owl took off from this tree and flew to the tree that the other owl had flown from. I reversed back and then, in my rear-view mirror, I saw a honey badger jump from the tree and cross the road!!!

This was the first sighting I had of a badger in 13 trips to the KTP and I was reversing with no chance to photograph! When I got the spot where the badger crossed the road, there was nothing to be seen as it was close to the edge of a dune. I blew it! No badger photo to prove that I'd seen one. Well, at least I can get a shot of the owl in the tree. As I approached the tree, the owl was sitting there, staring at me, I thought. I needed to change my lens and as I was doing this I heard a hiss, I looked up and amazingly, there was another badger in the tree!! When it saw me some 5 meters away, it jumped from the tree and headed the other way across the river bed.
At least I managed to get a couple of quick shots as evidence of the sighting. What a sighting for me, 2 badgers within 5 minutes! Photos not great, but at least I have some.

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The rest of the drive delivered some reasonable birding opportunities.

Rock Kestrel
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Juvenile Black-chested Snake Eagle
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Much more to follow...


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP: November 2009
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 12:02 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
Thanks for taking to look at my TR and pics, much appreciated. It's taking a bit longer than I thought, but I will endure.

Pumbaa, yes I was also surprised, but I've been told they go after snakes in trees. Any other possibilities? Maybe honey, they are honey badgers after all!

The last day in the Aoub valley before heading for Nossob was good for birding and not much was seen in the line of cats. I did visit the hyena den again and managed to get a few images. Some of the smaller creatures also caught my eye.

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Heyna pup silhouette
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Roommates
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Agama
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Starling
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Pygmy Falcon
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Cape Sparrow
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PCG
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Lilac Breasted Roller
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Swallowtailed Bee-eaters
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More to follow in due course...


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP: November 2009
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 5:16 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
Thanks once again for looking and taking the time to post comments.

The trip up to Nossob was very quiet although a number steenbokkies were seen on the dune road. From Dikbaardskolk up to Nossob it was also very quiet, but it was around midday and most animals were hiding from the sun. We were going to spend one night before moving up to Grootkolk for 2 nights and one night at Garaghab.

The late afternoon drive to Marie se Draai was extremely void of anything!! No raptors in the trees and nothing at the waterhole. I've never been lucky at Marie se Gat and this trip was no exception.

Did get some pics in the area:

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Marie se Draai
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During the night we heard some lions which seemed to be very close and I went down to the hide to see whether they were at the waterhole, but unfortunately nothing! The whole Nossob area appeared to be deserted and most people I spoke to mentioned that they had not seen anything of note either. But that's the beauty of the Kgalagadi, it always delivers in some way or the other. One must never become despondent, just be patient and enjoy the scenery and listen to the sounds. Tomorrow is another day.

More to follow.


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP: November 2009
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
Thanks all for the comments and being patient.

The next day we left Nossob and headed towards Grootkolk and Gharagab. At Cubitje Quap we were just in time to see the sandgrouse come for their morning visit. In my opinion, the best waterhole to photograph sandgrouse and lanner interactions.

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Also a little colourful waxbill

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Driving up north it was extremely quiet and once again, not much opportunity for photos. I was still perturbed that we had seen so few raptors on the trip thus far. At Polentswa waterhole we saw a beautiful blackchested snake eagle and I managed to get some take-off shots.

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Sadly, the waterhole at Kannaguass (one of my favourites) had no water as the windmill was broken after a recent storm. That meant no leopard or lion sitings here.

We eventually got to Grootkolk and settled in. Nice to be back but one can see that the fires did extensive damage to the area and not much game was spotted at all.

At our bungalow, we did spot this little guy seeking some cool air.

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More later...


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP: November 2009
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:18 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
Thanks for comments all.

That afternoon I took a drive down to Polentswa waterhole again and it proved to be a good decision. Two male lions came down the dune to drink in beautiful light. The fortunately did not go to the main cement waterhole, but chose to drink at the run-off area, giving the photos a more natural (non-human) feel. Of course, they were watching us all the time and it was a great photographic opportunity. I must have shot close on to 200 shots of these two lions. They looked in good condition although the one appeared to be older than the other.

These were the only two lions we saw north of Nossob for the 3 days that we were in the area. Mental note I made: must camp at Polenstwa at some stage!! Apparently there is a regular brown hyena that visits in the early morning.

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More later. Have a great day all. Raining in CT today!!


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP: November 2009
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 7:22 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
Thanks once again for the kind comments.

Our stay at Grootkolk was most enjoyable, although the sightings were not as good as it was when we were there in January last year. I drove up to Union's End waterhole and was not fortunate enough to see the brown hyena which had been spotted there on a few occasions.

I managed to get some bird shots at the waterhole, unfortunately no lanners hunting when I was there.

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We then went on to Gharagab for our first visit to this wilderness camp. The road was actually quite good and pleasant, but not much in the line of game was seen. We were pleasantly surprised with the camp, the cabins are great and all have a good view of the waterhole. We were only there for one night and therefore stayed in the camp the whole time we were there.

We saw some Gemsbokke, Elande and Springbokke come down to drink at various times, but only one or two at a time. Plenty of jackall and this one made a cute shot:

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Early morning view of the cabins:

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When we left the next morning we decided to return to this camp during our next trip. Most enjoyable and one really gets the feeling of being in the bush.

The road back takes one past Dankbaar waterhole and the resident AWC in the tree. We saw the cat but she was in no mood to pose for photos!

A little further on I saw 2 PCG's on the ground and before I could say honeybadger, my SO and I both saw the little guy digging away. We stopped but he also was not keen to pose and I quickly had to take a few shots as he scuttled away. Second daylight sighting of badger on one trip and previous 13 trips had no sightings at all!!

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It's amazing how quickly they can disappear from sight.

Just before we reached the Nossob road, we had one of the 'highlight' sightings of our trip. I saw a kestrel sitting in a tree and stopped. I took a few reference shots and then positioned myself to get the take-off shot. We waited and waited and were on the point of leaving when I saw the other kestrel in the viewfinder. Yes, they were going to mate! I got the whole sequence, the approach, the action and the departure in about 30 sharp frames. What a sighting!

Here just two from the sequence:

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We sat there for a while to appreciate the sighting we had just had. This was a first for me and I got the shots. Made the trip worthwhile. But there's more to come...


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP: November 2009
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 9:26 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
Thanks again for looking and taking the time to comment all. Much appreciated.

On the way down to Nossob we stopped at Polentswa waterhole again and during the hour or so that we were parked there some 30 secretary birds came down to drink. There were numerous juvenile bateleurs in the tree and now and again a stand-off would arise between the bateleurs and the secretary birds. It was midday so light was no good for photography.

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The rest of day was rather uneventful and not much was seen. Marie se Draai and Gat once again unproductive for me. No raptors to be seen.

At Rooikop waterhole a few lions with cubs were lazing around and I decided to wait there for a bit. The waterhole is not really good for photography as there are numerous trees between the waterhole and the parking area. By this stage there were a number of cars parked and I struggled to get any shots.

I could see 2 lionesses and 2 or 3 cubs, a young male and 2 beautiful large males. At some stage the young male, lying away from the other lions, got up and walked towards the lionesses and cubs. Just as I was ready to take a shot all hell broke loose! What happened was that the two big males charged the young male and chased him about 100m into the grass. At that stage the young male went to lie (submissive pose) on his back and the one male stood over him for at least 10 minutes.

This all happened so fast that it was impossible to get shots. But what a racket! Apparently the older males will chase the younger males out of the pride when they reach the age of 15 months.

These shots are of the large male returning to the waterhole after chasing the younger one. I quite like the "Lion in the grass' feel of the shots.

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This is the older male - what a beautiful specimen!

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The next morning I headed for Cubitje Quap waterhole again. This jackal posed nicely.

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The usual chaos at the waterhole was on the go as thousands of doves came down to drink and then they take off in crazy chaos, just in case the lanners were around.
A bit later the sandgrouse came in and very soon the lanners arrived! This was another highlight of this trip for me.

A lanner managed to hit a sandgrouse and he fell next to the waterhole. As the lanner turned to grab him, he took off and flew right at me, with the lanner in pursuit! Well, the sandgrouse must have been dazed as it flew right into the front fender of my car! I looked up to seen the lanner suddenly change his flightpath to miss my car by inches... Was quite a sighting to see the underside of a lanner no more than 2 meters away!!! Unfortunately no shots, as it all happened pretty fast and I had the 600mm lens on the camera. But that was not the end of the party! One of the lanners eventually caught a sandgrouse and gave an opportunity for a few shots.

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One observation I made that was quite interesting was that once the lanner has actually caught something, all the sandgrouse come down to drink even with the lanner sitting a few meters away from them.

The highlight of the morning was when a lanner caught a sandgrouse in mid-air and I managed to get a few shots just after the hit.

Looks like the sandgrouse is using the lanner as a hang glider!

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The kiss of death

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Victory cry

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I felt really chuffed getting these shots as I was handholding the 600mm lens!

More later.


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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP: November 2009
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 10:40 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
My apologies for taking so long to continue with this TR. Thanks for taking the time to look and posting comments.

We spent 3 nights at Nossob and were disappointed in general with the sightings in the area. Not just us, but most people seemed to have the same view while ewe were there. The lack of raptors was noticeable, if you know what I mean.

At least we had the pride of lions at Rooikop that kept us occupied for two days, unfortunately not great photo opportunities as they very much stayed around the waterhole and behind the trees. They must have been on a kill in the vicinity as they all were full of dried blood, especially the cubs looked a bit scruffy.

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The two adult males were very aggressive/dominant towards the others and walked around showing everyone who were in charge.

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Even Cubitje Quap and Kwang were very quiet and I therefore tried to get some 'landscape with animal' type of shots. This was taken at Kwang.

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On our way down to Kielie Krankie we also saw nothing much besides the usual herds of springbok and I did take some pics.

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Just before Kij Kij we came upon this beautiful Bateleur which was quite willing to pose and give us a take-off shot.

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More to follow.


Last edited by mybs on Sat Jan 23, 2010 10:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Mybs returns to KTP: November 2009
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 27, 2010 7:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 3:14 pm
Posts: 84
Location: Cape Town
Thanks once again for taking the time to look.

The last two nights of the trip was spent at Kielie Krankie, a camp we sometimes miss as we tend to stay at Urikaruus in that area, but I must admit we had a great stay this time. It was nice meeting up with Willem (camp attendant and one of the Pearson brothers working in KTP) again. These guys do fantastic work.

The vista greeting one at the Kielie Krankie cabins really is magnificent and stuns me every time we stay there.

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Staying at KK gives one access to a number of good waterholes before the masses arrive in the mornings. Nice sighting of giraffes drinking one morning.

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That afternoon we came across the cheetah and 2 cubs near Bataluma on a springbok kill right next to the road. We spent most of the afternoon in the vicinity. Everytime the a Parks Board vehicle approached, the young cheetahs ran up the dune and only came down when the vehicle left. How they can know the difference between a PB vehicle and any other vehicle is a mystery to me. There were some jackals hanging around and every time the one thought the cheetahs were sleeping, he would grab a piece of meat, only to be chased by one of the cheetahs.

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It was nice meeting up with Munchkin at this sighting - yellow ribbons did their job!!

The last morning we had some good BEF sightings and as we were leaving, in the distance, we saw the leopard near Auchterlonie. Took some shots, but not worth posting.

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All and all this was an excellent trip with great weather and really cool sightings. Will definitely go in November month again. Till next time, cheers to all.


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