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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 10, 2010 11:05 am 
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OWN...Thanks for your very complimentary comments.
Nothing really special for the bat photo...just focus and shoot..ha. Some bats seem to be more expressive than others (have a epauletted fruit bat that wasn't overly enamoured with being caught, but was just beautiful)...I always thought R capensis appeared as if it had big lips and required lipstick. A lovely shade of red, of course.
We captured about 7 different species of bat and will show you some of the others later on.
Baviaanskloof was full of animals...we spent several nights netting amidst the fireflies, and by day there were bushbuck, tortoises of enormous size, rock monitors, kudu, baboons, vervets, great birds and wonderful rugged scenery. Very beautiful area.
Leaving we chose a circuitous route which was to save us time and be more direct than the main highway...the road looked better than what we had traveled on, but it got sketchy in my books...but I am a wuss. Later we found that it was ranked #5 in the top 10 4x4 routes of the Province. Was really choice meeting another vehicle with space enough for 1.3 vehicles, and no guard rails...spectacular views though...

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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:29 am 
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Micetta...you are psychic...too scarey...this is also for my other housebound friends...especially those with teens!!!!

October 27/10 we headed to the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) to meet a good friend of ours who is a professor there- we will call her Sissi. She had arranged for TMLL (my SO) to give a talk- which he did with great enthusiasm. After the talk, the girls we were traveling with from UCT, departed for some nearby mines to locate some bats and their other accommodation, while we moved in with Sissi. It was so kind of Sissi to take the afternoon off and take us to Addo NP.
We were very excited to go to Addo and get a glimpse of what we would more thoroughly explore in February.
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Addo is located about an hour’s drive northeast of Port Elizabeth. It was established in 1931 and is continuing to grow in size from its present day 168 000 hectares. It encompasses over 5 biomes: Darlington Lake to the Zuurberg Mountains, bushveld of the Sundays River Valley, indigenous forest of Woody Cape, coastal dune fields and the marine areas of Bird Island and St Croix Island. It proudly protects the big 7- Elephants, Cape buffalo, Leopard, Black rhino, Lions, Great white shark and Southern right whale. What a wonderful place so close to a big city, with such a wealth of animals on both land and ocean.
At the entrance you are greeted by some sizeable elephant skulls…I was so excited. Image
I have read that these elephants are much more placid than some of their more cantankerous relatives in Kruger NP, and we had certainly seen some hormonal beasts in Etosha, which had given us a huge respect for them. I was happy to be with Sissi who really knew how these things would behave.
The over 500 elephants in the park, leave a lot of recycled grass lying about, and as a result there are some flightless dung beetles. We were on the watch for them, as the signage requested
Imagebut didn’t for the longest time spot them. Well apparently they were all waiting for 4pm, and then it was nearly impossible to avoid the tiny black beetles with a mission.

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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:54 am 
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One common resident of the park were the tortoises. My Lord there was a ton of them; some of enormous size and others not so big.
one with a bit of a sunroof-Image
some huge-
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some not so huge-
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We counted 32 in our brief time there. I kept thinking back to the SanParks forum webcams and wondering if we would see Timothy. Where is the webcam situated? We looked at a bunch of waterholes, but didn’t find the webcam, or Timothy.
Then we saw our first elephant- it was a loner and fairly sizeable.
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Then they just seemed to appear everywhere and we couldn’t get over how brown many of them were. Just like the ones sneaking (they do that you know) up behind us on the road.
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Then we realized that they had been bathing/splashing in the reddy brown mud…so they were very henna like. Over our few hours there we saw 37 elephant and some got very up close and personal with us.
time for a little Oil of Olay!!!!
Image
Image

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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:10 am 
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Micetta...height of the huge tortoise was about as tall as an adult person's knee- maybe 1/2-2/3 m wide?
Mud of Olay needs a new formulation, cause it really wasn't working!!!

Clearly some people had huge respect for these beasts and there was near panic in the little car ahead of us as a group of ellies approached on the road, eating tree and bush leaves as they came (spekbos was a favoured purple bush).
We were in a big truck, with a calm driver who could tell these were gentle giants. The little car driver was panicking as she tried to back up and we weren’t budging. But these elephants were really only interested in their food and certainly weren’t in musth. She decided to plow forward through the elephants instead of just watching and admiring the beasts. Sigh…
It was neat to watch the elephants eat…they had a certain technique, which baby found interesting too. First you found some good grass, then dislodged it with your foot, then coiled it up in your trunk to shake off the dirt- 3 times, and then you ate it.
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Baby got impatient and Mom clearly vocalized to settle down and leave her alone…this was accompanied by a deliberate trunk guidance telling baby to ‘voetsak’(Africaans) or Hayi suka (Xhosa)-= get lost! I learn only the most practical expressions!
Image

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KTF Hooked on KTP- 2008
KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


Last edited by KTF hooked on Thu Nov 11, 2010 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:23 am 
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Micetta...yup it was neat to watch them...so peaceful..listening to that tummy rumble. Thanks for being such a loyal commentor!!!

We drove through some herds of kudu – hoo hum, we are so done kudu- ha(33), hartebeest (4)…searching for some buffalo or rhino.
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We arrived at the Zuurkop lookout to have a better vantage point. Carefully minding the lion warning, we had a good look around, but came up empty. It was a lovely area and here are some of the views.
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Other animals we did find were several families of warthogs (15 total) - all very sizeable and surprisingly calm. Usually the tail goes up when you slow down and they disappear quickly…these couldn’t have cared less. They were most attractive in their red mud coating or a brown dip as well.
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Terrapins lay in wait for unsuspecting doves…old story. Ostrich, blue cranes, pale chanting goshawks, jackals and a very fat yellow mongoose also greeted us at some point.
Image

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Canadian prairies...but prepping for some SA trips....
KTF Hooked on KTP- 2008
KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:32 am 
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Later on the dung beetles came out in huge numbers (67) in quick succession and we decided that we probably missed scads of lions, buffalo and rhino cause we were too busy watching out for dung beetles.

Image

The end(s)-

Image

of our brief visit to Addo NP. We look forward to returning in February!!!

Hope this has melted some of the snow on the runway in Canada and lessened those Nov blues...many respects for Remembrance Day!!!!!

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KTF Hooked on KTP- 2008
KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2010 9:00 pm 
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Wow...you go away for a few weeks and everything changes.....thanks to Kamadejo...Micetta...Pumbaa...Lionspoon...Lockie...CC...annemarie... Crested barbet....arks and melph 68...for all the comments/info etc.
Sorry but I think I need to now up my glasses perscription, but I couldn't read most of the comments...ha...how pathetic is that.
Suffice to say that my friend 'Travelling Around" (TA) and I had a wonderful time in KTP...so much so that I am presently trying to rebook for March...ha...and although we didn't see nearly as much as katydownunder and francolin...sigh...although it was super to meet them...we still thoroughly enjoyed our time in KTP...and stand at the ready to revisit at any time!!!
It was also great to see GavinW and Wannabenerd...on an obscure KTP road...they gave us invaluable advice...and we thank them for it. Hopefully we can meet in person in CT a some later date!
KTP is a super special place...my SO has just returned to CT and we are trying to work in another trip in that direction...we do have a few contacts there now...ha...sigh. I am usually the timid one, but had to be brave for our adventure and very much relished the whole trip.
Unfortunately for us, but good for the park, we owe some serious cash for our sightings.(who sent all the friggin secretary birds, kudu and giraffe there???)..and I hope I can allocate that for areas we identified as being needy along our travels.
I absolutely adore KTP and it definitely still has me hooked on Africa!!!

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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 2:03 pm 
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Thanks for all your comments anne-marie, Lionspoon, Jo, Scouter and Nkumbe.
anne-marie...will add our dates to the yellow ribbon section soon...would be great to meet
Lionspoon- ha...no worries...I am always totally effficient and observant...not...nice to see others make those mistakes too
Jo- thanks, sent you a pm about March...hope we can meet then...
Scouter- next time, I will pm and would be great to visit for tea
Nkumbe- yes, that was just a taster of Addo...we will stay there for much longer in February
Ok...am now ready to start back into our adventures. We have done a heck of a lot since I last chatted!
I guess I will cheat a little and attach a few photos of neat critters which were found in a world heritage location, but could have been found in Addo...ha
yellow canary bathing:
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cool wasp:
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a very exhuberant and loud tortoise doing his spring thing...ahem:
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such a handsome boy: rock monitor-
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curious little vervet:
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some fun photos...in between National Parks....

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KTF Hooked on KTP- 2008
KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:47 am 
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Lionspoon...yeah those tortoises - one was very enthusiastic, but just didn't seem to be doing a heck of a lot...ha...the other looked like it was thinking of other things..ha..the noises...ha...get a room
anne-marie...will be great to meet you...we should have a braai...your last night and our first...I'm sure you will have lots of stories to tell!!

Ok...well back to our adventures...a quick trip to Addo...and some in between time at Baviaanskloof World Heritage site, studying bats...so first a primer on bat research:
Mum is working on her PhD studying a specific bat called Rhinolophus capensis...a horseshoe bat, which is actually quite cute...from a bat perspective. Note the nose leaf is in the shape of a horseshoe...clever name, ha- the leaf is thought to assist with echolocation. See isn't it cute???
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The bats are first palpated to see whether or not they are pregnant...cause you don't want to aggravate a pregnant Mom...tends to somtimes disturb the normal gestation and they can prematurely give birth...not a good thing.
Here Mum is feeling for the cranium of a babe...Bats generally have 1 or sometimes 2 young, and the size of the pup is fairly impressive compared to the size of the mom. Trust me, be grateful we are human- cause the size of our young is comparatively minute and that was enough agony for me!! These poor bat females must endure a lot giving birth to such a large offspring...not sure they are screaming for epidurals either, but maybe they do..ha...and they have to hang by their thumbs to give birth...we- have it easy!!
Image

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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:34 am 
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JJ-glad you are bat keen...not..oh well maybe I will have to convince you...I just love those critters that people love to hate...snakes excepted...but I am trying

anne- marie- it is a braai date next March...you won't be in a bad mood, cause you will have such fun retelling us all the great things you have enjoyed- we will also bring some fermented grape juice to perk you up! Bat was one of our little samples...they are cute...see JJ?

Image
The workstation set up..-a weigh scale- bat is weighed in a breathable light cotton bag, then the bag is weighed without the bat and the difference is the bat's weight. OOh rocket science...
-calipers- to measure the forearm length of the bat...a good indicator of body size and helps confirm species as well
- lap top and microphone- allows the bat's echolocation calls to be recorded, and visualized as an oscillogram- also confirms call frequency (pitch) and thus species type
- wine glass- ahem- top secret research equipment- unfortunately if I told you what it was for, I'd then have to destroy you
-graph paper with slightly sticky base- to extend bat's wing, photograph to measure area- also indicator of size/species and is helpful in calculating flight ability
- masking tape...you can figure that one out
-board with light to take a teeny sample (2mm) of the tail membrane, for DNA analysis- confirms species type unequivocally and is used for other studies. The teeny hole grows back within a few weeks and does not impair flight. It is as if the bat has snagged its wing on a thorn...a regular occurrence- and we took samples where there were no blood vessels, so no bleeding resulted. This has all been approved by the animal ethics board and permits granted to do the work in the specific locales- SA is very strict about their permits- which is a good thing.
- lots of scientific looking vials- filled with preservative for wing punctures/parasite samples etc and just to impress the heck out of passers by
-fishing tackle box... equipment storage and if the bat work gets boring- you can head to the water- ha

All animals were handled with great care, and were driven sometimes large distances back to the original site of their capture as soon as possible, so they could have a normal feeding experience. It would just be like a bad dream, with a new bit of body piercing...so modern- all the bats want it.

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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:42 am 
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Thanks so much to CC, Kamadejo, Pumbaa, melph68, Micetta, anne marie and Morkel777 for your comments...glad you enjoy your little science lesson..ha.
I do think bats are cool and it is important to let people know about them, cause they are very misunderstood. A lot of times, that is just because people rely on incorrect info, historical myths (which are usually hysterical), and the fact that they aren't often seen owing to their nocturnal habits.
melph68...so glad you caught the calibrations on the wine glass equipment
Morkel777- thanks, this is a trip of a life time...we are just lucky enough to have many of these..and this one is taking a lifetime to post- ha..so I'd best get back to it...

One way insect eating bats are easily caught is in fine bird nets funneled along 'fly ways' usually over water, where sources of food tend to hang in abundance. like this cliff crack---
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Bats are very agile flyers and can navigate around these nets when they detect them, but like other mammals...ahem...they make mistakes and sometimes just get 'caught up' in going along a familiar route or enthused over catching some food. This lands them in our net, where we patrol and remove them with care.

Here are a couple of bat species that we caught aside from what we were hoping to catch.
Clearly the first bat is not an insectivore, but a fruit bat (Ephomophorus walbergii), who just ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Thankfully this one did not scream at us, as they are wont to do, and placidly allowed us to untangle it. They aren't always so docile, as the thickness of the gloves belies the respect we have for their teeth and nails..ha. Note the large eye...sees very well (not blind)...actually doesn't echolocate...but sees better than we do in no so light conditions.
Image
The reason why bats belong to the chiroptera (hand/wing) group is that their hand...note all the fingers (thumb down), is spread out over their wing- which has the same consistency as our skin.
Image
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People tend to think that all bats are really huge- but the body is actually quite small...it is the span of the wings which can be large. Fruit bats are the exception- most bats are tiny.
Another captured bat, who wasn't so keen on the attention, shows the more common size of bats:
Image
Both extending the wing out and holding the bat as is shown, does not harm the bat. They are more protesting being disturbed from their foraging, untangled from a net, and being in this huge human's hands.

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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:25 pm 
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So some of the little dears didn't take too kindly to our divergence from their foraging bouts....Rhinolophus clivotis (another species of horseshoe bat)
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But those who were of the correct species, were weighed, then measured;
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and then invited to protest for us to see- just speak into the microphone;
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from this we could see a spectrogram of call harmonics;
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get an oscillogram of the call;
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then take a small skin sample;
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take a photo of wing area
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and then chauffer them back to their point of capture.
Bat studies made simple..by KTF- I just was along to photograph (anything), all the work is done by some fairly dedicated students/profs...then all the data which is accumulated goes through lots of statistical analysis and they discover all sorts of neat new things, so we can understand bats better in many different ways.
Moving on...back to Tsitsitkamma NP

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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:50 am 
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Tsitsitkamma National Park is a lovely finger like area right on the ocean near Storm's River Mouth. Vistas are wonderful and visitors have a wonderful view of the ocean, no matter where you stay (as long as you aren't a researcher..ahem, but that is a story for the park manager). Accommodation near the restaurant end may get a bit more traffic sounds from the streams of buses which arrive, but they are only there in the day time.
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Clouds were rolling in and it was misty and cool. We explored a bit and set up nets near our accomodation, which made trapping handy.
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The next day was much brighter and we were keen to find the known caves which housed bats. We went down to the Park office and found another ranger, to see if we could access the caves up river. We waited for this ranger to be free…once he saw all the official documents…he couldn’t have been more helpful. He sent us on a boat up the river to the caves.
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As we went up river, we could see the large suspension bridge was not overly prepared for visitors..ha...no floor section...its renovation was to be completed by now!
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cool cliffs along the way...it was getting very narrow
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one of the target caves:
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The boat driver was very helpful and gave us a terrific tour as we went. We spotted a little seal on the rocks
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lots of great sheer cliffs…neat vegetation…and finally the cave. Inside .....

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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:16 am 
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Inside TMLL was able to access the land, although it was really slick…and I chose to pass on that adventure. I would cheerlead from the safety of the boat. Ya just don’t need me to break another bone!! FC managed to get off as well…then they attempted the rickety wood ladder…when slight FC ended up with a fist full of rotted wood splinters instead of a support, the plan was abandoned.
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Shame…another several ladders were really required to access the land and some tall grippy boots, to wade through the oozing bat guano accumulated from many years of residency. We could hear a sizeable population squawking in the back shadows of this large cave. We went a little further upriver, but had to return, since the boat was required for the regular tourist trips.
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In the afternoon we went to the start of the Otter trail…such a pretty area. The trail is 42.5 km long and takes 4 1/2 days to complete. We didn't do this, but it does have sections which are accessible for day hikes. The Otter trail follows the rugged, rocky shoreline ranging in elevation from sea level to a height of over 150m. Most of the trail follows cliff tops returning to sea level to cross rivers.
We hiked down through the forest to the ocean and headed to some other caves along the trail.
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The trail was very steep in places, but such a pretty place…Lots of lobelia, orange bracket fungi.
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We rock hopped across on the coast line to another sizeable cave and explored that one. No bats to be found, but a whole lot of red winged starlings who were mighty ticked.

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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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 Post subject: Re: KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 11:43 am 
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Continuing on the Otter trail...lots of great flowers:
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This was a fairly steep descent:
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But the views were worth it.
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We rock hopped across on the coast line to another sizeable cave and explored that one. No bats to be found, but a whole lot of red winged starlings who were mighty ticked.
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further along the cave...twas massive...
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We came back via the coastal trail denoted by giant yellow footprints…rock hopping and admiring the view. It is pretty nice walking, but if you are not stable on your feet, or don't have shoes with good traction...you might want to rethink!
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We came across some nearly suicidal green and black grasshoppers that TMLL found- ha…the insects were all amassing at the edge of a cliff…and eyeing the ocean below. Great views…we also found several bushbucks close by.
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Our night time thrill-
Image

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KTF Hooked's Most Anticipated Adventure- 2010/11


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