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 Post subject: Caracal The Kalahari will reveal itself .... Dec 2010
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:29 pm 
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to only those who seek with a true heart...

The 26th December found us heading along a very familiar road….
“Us” being BabyNel (BN) Bat Eared Butland (BEB), Doug and myself.
Our trip had been booked 11 months ago and for some of us the time had dragged.
Our wishlists were discussed in the car…I could not keep up with BN's wishes and BEB was no better.
Doug and I were very relaxed...of course we had wishes …but we have had the privilege of experiencing so many awesome sightings that really we do not know what to wish for anymore. We just love the entire experience of being in the Kgalagadi but deep down I knew we would be privileged again……our hearts were true and I knew the Kgalagadi would reveal itself…….

We left on schedule at 5.00 am but we had no sooner hit the freeway when we realised that BN and BEB had left their binoculars behind and I of all people had left my beanbag behind. :roll: :roll: After a little detour we once again hit the road to our most favourite place…


It is such a long boring road from CT to KTP but I keep myself busy with my bird lists. By 10.30 we had seen our first Pale Chanting Goshawk :clap: and by 10.40 the following comments were emanating from the backseat..

I’m tired !

Well sleep…
I’m hungry !
Well eat…
I’m bored !
Well count the trees…
Where is my log book for my trip ??? You always made log books to keep us occupied when we were little…
Well you are no longer little...you can stay at home next time..
That shut one BN up very quickly… :D :D

By 11h00 the temperature had reached 32° C and we had seen our first Sociable Weaver’s nest….40 km south of Kenhardt. :clap:

We left Upington at 13h00 ..the temperature was climbing( 37°) :roll: and so was the excitement….especially when we spotted a Martial Eagle on a telephone pole.
Eventually we arrived at Twee Rivieren.
A friendly and smiling Annetjie checked us in….and I had to laugh at BEB’s comment “Everybody seems to know you around here !!!”
Okay ..so we visit the park often !!!! :D
As we were leaving BEB spotted the following on the counter.

Image Image

I joked with BEB and told him that he had now seen the giraffe that was on his wishlist.
We decided to take the worksheet to the car for BN to keep her occupied when she gets bored..
Her comment…”Where are the crayons ? You always gave me new crayons with my log books.”
We just can’t win with her !!!!

We laughed our way to chalet.
Before long we were unpacked and ready to hit the road for our first game drive.


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 Post subject: Re: The Kalahari will reveal itself ....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 19, 2011 2:47 pm 
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OMW...I think I need to thank everyone for the encouraging start :D :D :D
Writing a trip report is just so much more satisfying when one realises that it is really enjoyed by so many !!!! :D

And without much ado....

Our plan was to visit Houmoed, Samevloeiing and Leeudril.
First up on the sightings’ list were my most favourite birds of all..owls.
First a pair of Verreaux’s Eagle Owls (the other one was well hidden in the branches)

Image

And then a pair of Spotted Eagle Owls…again they were very difficult to see.

Image

We had a brief stop at Samevloeiing but we were eager to get to Houmoed. It was with great anticipation that we tackled the dune road and it was with great disappointment that we arrived at Houmoed without seeing one 4 legged creature….I kid you not !!! :shock:
No gemsbok in the dunes...no springbok in the riverbed….nothing. :big_eyes: You can imagine what BN had to say about it all. After a while we drove back to Samevloeiing where this little bunny saved the day…

Image

Image Scrub Hare

The poor thing was hot and bothered and it’s nose was covered in flies.

We moved onto Leeudril...again with great anticipation...but really this stretch of road was more deader than dead. :big_eyes: I was quite happy though…I was having a wonderful time testing out Wirlwind’s lens that he had so kindly lent to me for the trip. :dance:

Image Anteating chat.

There was not much happening at Leeudril either… hordes of Cape Turtle Doves and Sociable Weavers was all that was on offer. The sociable Weavers were very busy foraging on the ground and the doves were quietly dozing in the tree.

Image Sociable Weavers

We headed back to Samevloeiing. We always leave ourselves enough time to enjoy a leopard sighting at Samevloeiing…loads of time but no leopard. :twisted:

Anyway I kept myself busy photographing the busy little birds

Image Sociable Weavers

I had never seen so many Chestnut-backed Sparrowlarks so far south before…I have mostly only ever seen them north of Nossob.

Image

Eventually it was time to head back to camp…again leaving a few minutes spare in case we came across the leopard. Of course there was no leopard. Nevermind I thought...hopefully the owls that we had seen on the way out had woken up a bit and I could spend the last few minutes photographing them.
Little did I know that I was about to experience my best owl sighting ever……


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 Post subject: Re: The Kalahari will reveal itself ....
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 1:57 am 
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Caracal wrote:
I had never seen so many Chestnut-backed Sparrowlarks so far south before…I have mostly only ever seen them north of Nossob.

I think that your finchlarks may in fact be the greybacked variety. I saw lots of them in the south of the park last February. But never with such a lovely photo op!

Love your peekaboo owl 8)

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16-22 Nov Cape Town
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 Post subject: Re: The Kalahari will reveal itself ....
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:39 am 
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We had got as far as the large tree just before the waterhole at the gate into camp.
We found the two Verreaux’s Eagle Owls and they had woken up somewhat but had moved themselves further into the tree…no hope of any sort of a photo. :cry:
With that my eye caught some movement in a different part of the tree and out flew a juvenile Verreaux’s Eagle Owl. He headed for the waterhole. We followed of course and managed to get a parking space amongst the other cars. As I said this must our best owl sighting ever….but unfortunately the light was failing fast so I upped my ISO and just hoped for the best….at least I ended up with some photos that tell a story

Image

He was not quite sure of his audience and kept checking on us…

Image

Ooh that water looks so inviting...should I or shouldn’t I

Image

Let me give this a bash….I hope I don’t get laughed at

Image

Now what am I supposed to do…..

Image

A bit more flapping…

Image

Do you have to watch while I am taking a bath…

Image


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 Post subject: Re: The Kalahari will reveal itself ....
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:42 am 
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With that he flapped his way over to the other side of the waterhole and positioned himself behind a bush…pity about that but obviously the owl needed some privacy. :wink:

Image

He contemplated the water for a while…gave us a final look and jumped in..

Image

Much flapping ensued…

Image

Image

Image

Finally he had overcome his shyness and was having a wonderful bath. We in turn were thoroughly enjoying this….but time ticketh on.
There were many vehicles present with many huge lenses poked out the window. We were all waiting for the same thing…we were all waiting for that owl to get done with his bath and take off…


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 Post subject: Re: The Kalahari will reveal itself ....
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 4:26 pm 
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There was much splashing and flapping…I felt so much cooler just watching this owl enjoy his “spalshabout”
Eventually the moment every photographer was waiting for arrived…and herewith follow (drum roll) my award-winning out of focus photographs…… :whistle:

Image

Image

Oops false alarm……

Image

This owl was certainly playing games with us….

And some more flapping …

Image

And eventually one very wet and comical looking owl was airborne.

Image

He flew to the nearby tree and his look said it all…
“Go home..the show is over !!!”

Image

We were thrilled…it was truly awesome to watch that owl take off. Only when you see an owl’s wingspan do you realise how big they are.
The show was indeed over ..or was it???
As we pulled up alongside our chalet BN noticed something sitting on our stoep…
“An owl” she yelled. With that it flew off but I managed to keep my eye on it. I grabbed my camera and went into stalk mode. This Pearlspotted Owlet was indeed obliging…

Image

Three different owl sightings in one afternoon..not bad if you ask me. :D

With that Mybs joined me….nice to meet you Mybs … :D
Mybs was leaving the park the next day but he kindly passed on some inside info…
13th/14th/ Dalkeith were hotspots :clap: ….but Nossob was quiet. :|
We had 2 nights at Urikaruus and then 3 at Nossob so my heart sank a little on receiving that news. Oh what the heck….3 quiet days at Nossob would do me no harm !!!!!

By the time I got back from my owl stalking Doug already had the fire on the go…and I suddenly realised how tired I was. We had been on the go since 4h30 that morning..it had been a long exciting day. I was organizing the braai things in the chalet when BN called me outside to the fire. As I approached the fire BEB hightailed past me at a rapid rate…
And now ??? The cause for his concern was this…

Image

Oh sh*t...my pet hate… I was instantly wide awake !!!! BN rescued the awful koring kriek :roll: before somebody stood on it…brave girl indeed. :clap:

Image

BEB and I relaxed somewhat but we were very careful where we put our feet….
The next minute we heard BN yell from the chalet….
“There is a horrible thing on the wall above my bed”
Now it was our turn to laugh…BN’s cause for concern was this gentle harmless gecko

Image

She took some convincing that was harmless but eventually she decided it could stay.
Eventually we had our braai and before long we had all crashed into bed….
As usual I lay in bed thinking my thoughts…I was very happy with the day’s events..
But I had to get to sleep…we had to be down at reception at 5.00 am the next morning….we had booked our first ever walk in the KTP :dance:


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 Post subject: Re: The Kalahari will reveal itself ....
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 21, 2011 2:39 pm 
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Exhausted as I was I did not get a good’s night sleep.
So when that alarm went off I was like a zombie but we were down at reception by 4.50am. Our vehicle with our guide Dawid arrived and within minutes we were on our way and I was enthralled with the early morning skies.

Image
The destination was Samevloeiing. We continued past the waterhole and through the little wooden poles…well Dawid removed them before we drove through. We continued for a short distance whereupon he stopped the vehicle and we climbed out. At last I got to leave my footprints in the Aoub Riverbed….

Image

Image

Dawid was an excellent guide and he soon he was pointing out all sorts of tracks to us..
Antlion, scorpion, mice, and buck spoor spider to mention but a few

Image buck spoor spider. This is quite a interesting spider and is apparently only active in the heat of the day. Check this link if you would like to find out more about it…
http://www.biodiversityexplorer.org/arachnids/spiders/eresidae/seothyra.htm"%20onclick="window.open(this.href);return%20false;

Image Dawid showing us which way the antelope had walked. We also came across lion tracks but they were a few days old…
We veered out of the riverbed and up a dune…3 steps forward and two steps backwards…how does a steenbokkie manage to run up the dunes so quickly.

Image View of the dune road.


Image Our view from the top of the dune.

We stopped for a rest near a huge tree with a Sociable’s Weaver nest in it. I kept my distance…I had seen too many cobras in these nests. This is when Doug spotted a caracal in the distance….he was so far away…he walked up the ridge and was soon out of sight. Dawid was thrilled…he had not seen a caracal in over a year.

We then walked up the stony ridge….along the plateau…and soon we were back where we started.
Image view of vehicle.
We had seen springbok, steenbok, cape fox and whistling rats, a few birds and a caracal in the distance …not major sightings …but being out there witnessing the Kalahari waking up is a major experience indeed !!!!

When we got back to camp we heard via the grapevine that a leopard and a brown hyena had visited Samevloeiing in the time that we had been out walking. Well I must admit that did send a chill down my spine….that leopard could very well have been watching us walking through his domain.
Back to the chalet to pack up…we were moving onto Urikaruus…and that is when I saw it……bat poep in my bed!!!! :shock: Well I am sure you all know by now what came out of my mouth….and it wasn’t “ Oh Poep “ ..it was “Oh s***!!!! :big_eyes: :big_eyes:
But there was no time for stressing...it was time to move onto Urikaruus and our next adventure…. :dance:


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 Post subject: Re: The Kalahari will reveal itself ....
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 12:04 pm 
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Ah ..the bats at TR...I think TR are tearing their hair with this bat invasion but really there is probably not much that can be done. And really if you think about it ...how much can bat poep really harm you ??? Not much...but having said that if you tend to lie on your back and snore you could end up with a bit of a problem !!!!! :whistle:
@ anne-catherine...it took a while for me to get use to the lens but I am really happy with many of the shots that I got.

Thanks again everybody ....
and to continue...

We were packed up and ready to leave TR by 9h00. It was 33.5°C ...and we were leaving the air-cons behind. :shock:
The dune road was quiet...just a pygmy falcon and a steenbok in the distance.
As a matter of fact the entire trip to Urikaruus was quiet.
Auchterlonie produced a few Spike-heeled Larks and the usual loud mouth Cape Crow was having a wonderful time yelling at the empty Kalahari....
The stretch from Auchterlonie to Kamqua produced a Ground Agama in his breeding plumage :wink:

Image

and a few Spotted Thick-knees

Image.

Kamqua was occupied by no less than 10 secretary birds...all haphazardly crisscrossing the dunes in search of food.
We had also come across this bird....I seem to think it is a Steppe Buzzard. If I am correct in my assumption then it is the first one I have ever seen in the park. :dance:

Image

Image

Finally we reached the turn off to Urikaruus…BN and BEB were really excited...they had not stayed in an unfenced camp before.
My thoughts..”Pls Urikaruus, do not let these first timers down” :pray:


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 Post subject: Re: The Kalahari will reveal itself ....
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 2:44 pm 
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I have just had " my bird ' ID'ed as a Steppe buzzard on another forum....so that is another KTP tick for me. :D


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 Post subject: Re: The Kalahari will reveal itself ....
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2011 4:53 pm 
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[/quote]
BEB and I relaxed somewhat but we were very careful where we put our feet….
The next minute we heard BN yell from the chalet….
“There is a horrible thing on the wall above my bed”
Now it was our turn to laugh…BN’s cause for concern was this gentle harmless gecko

Image

She took some convincing that was harmless but eventually she decided it could stay.
Eventually we had our braai and before long we had all crashed into bed….[/quote]

Hi Caracal,

It looks like a Bibron's Gecko to me. These gecko's are known for there strong jaws and always ready to bite :whistle:
Your owl photo's are great and well captured :cam: :clap: :clap: :)


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 Post subject: Re: The Kalahari will reveal itself ....
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:14 pm 
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It didn’t take me long to unpack and get organised…it never does.
BN and BEB disappeared off to their cabin and I busied myself in the kitchen getting whatever I could ready for our evening braai. I hate faffing in the kitchen when we get back from our evening drive…that time must be spent guarding the waterhole.

I am not sure at what time I lost it in the afternoon……but lose it I did. :redface:
The temperature was rising in that cabin….I was in the shower…I was out of the shower…I was on the kitchen balcony…I was on the wooden walkways looking for a tree to shelter under…I was on the bedroom balcony. :wall: I tried to get my notes up to date….I was back in the shower...back on the balcony…nothing to see. :evil: Has everything died in this place :evil: …I hate this place :shock: ...Did I say that :big_eyes: …no I meant I hate this heat. :twisted:
Doug was fast asleep….I wanted to smack him awake :evil: ...how can he sleep in this heat. :big_eyes:
Still nothing moving outside…was I the last survivor on this planet….. :big_eyes:
It was 46°C :big_eyes: :big_eyes: :big_eyes: and I was long past my sell by date…and I had seriously lost my sense of humour :twisted:

Eventually it was nearing 16h00 and it was time to go on our drive in an air-conditioned vehicle.

Doug…have you fetched the permit, Dear ?
Dear…fetch itself yourself :evil: ...leave me alone :evil: ...as a matter of fact don’t even look at me. :twisted: He had slept through the heat :shock: ...I still hadn’t forgiven him for that. He makes me feel so inadequate in the heat…..I can’t even sleep through it. :roll:

My family know when to leave me alone and after 5 mins in the car peace was restored as we headed north. It was very overcast …I was hoping we would have some rain. :pray:

As we rounded the bend to 13th borehole we noticed an ostrich relaxing in the water…we drove up very slowly….and I managed to get one shot

Image

before he took to his heels and ran off.

Image

We felt sorry that we had disturbed his cooling down….

Apart from a springbok or two 13th was indeed very quiet.
We moved onto 14th...nothing but a Black-chested Snake Eagle soaring in the sky.
We moved onto Dalkeith…one male lion fast asleep under a tree in the distance. I forgave him for sleeping through the heat of the day :wink: …maybe we would catch him awake on the way back. The temperature was still in the 40’s... :shock:
A little further along we came across this ostrich…he was panting much better….

Image

Clearly he did not have the energy to run away.

We moved onto Craig Lockhart...one of my most favourite waterholes…and at last something to photograph. Great excitement because to the left of the waterhole was a giraffe… this was the topmost wish on BEB’s list. :dance: He had never seen a real live giraffe before.

Image

Unfortunately he was so alive and so real that after allowing me one shot he turned around and walked away over the dune.

Image

But BEB had a good look at him and was in absolute awe of this beautiful creature.
We turned our attention to the waterhole...a gemsbok, alongside the crows and doves, was enjoying a drink a water…

Image

Another gemsbok approaching..

Image (BN’s photo)

A Cape Crow, full of his own self-importance was babbling away in the tree.

Image

He decided to join the others at the waterhole.

Image

Did he know I was photographing him. :hmz: Judging by his pose I think so :wink:

Image


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 Post subject: Re: The Kalahari will reveal itself ....
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 5:41 pm 
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After BN had captured this lizard

Imagev

we decided it was time to head on back south. We were hoping to catch the famous hyenas at their den just north of Urikaruus so time was of the essence. As we left Craig Lockhart BN remarked on what an awesome waterhole it was….indeed it is.
Before we got to Dalkeith we saw a Kori Bustard doing what they do best...walking away from us…

Image


as well as some more Spotted Thick-knees…they are always so well camouflaged under the trees.

Image

The lion at Dalkeith was still fast asleep under his tree….I think he was trying to prove a point…I decided there and then that being able to sleep through the intense heat must be a “male thing” The lion had attracted a few cars but we moved on….the hyenas were calling.

Between Dalkeith and 14th I managed to spot a Bat-eared Fox in the distance. By the time we had stopped and reversed we realised that the Batty had just emerged out of her den…the next minute two little fluff balls popped their heads up as well.

Image…photos are quite cropped

Mom started to walk away from the den and we thought the little ones might follow

Image

A third little head popped up at some stage but then all three disappeared. I reckoned they were not old enough and brave enough to come and play by themselves. Doug reminded me that the hyenas were calling !!!!


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 Post subject: Re: The Kalahari will reveal itself ....
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:39 pm 
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Thanks Scouter, anne-marie, Micetta, and Sharifa and Duke .. :D :D :D
and a little bit more !

We moved onto 14th…and here the most tranquil scene was awaiting us.
Springbok had gathered around the waterhole…the last rays of the sun were shining on them. The reflections in the water were too beautiful…I could have stayed there forever… :D

Image

Image

Image

There is always one cheeky one in every herd though

Image

It had cooled down a little and the springbok were enjoying their drink...we had this scene all to ourselves. It seemed that all the other cars had got stuck with the lion at Dalkeith….
Again Doug reminded me that we should move on if we wanted to spend time with the hyenas….

13th was quiet and it was great anticipation that we arrived at the hyena den….and yes there they were ..2 adult hyenas and the pup. :dance:
There were still very sleepy…but the pup was fairly active. He played a bit with mom...went for a little walk...came back and chewed mom’s ears again…ambled around a bit. I did feel sorry for him...he had no siblings to play with. Again we were the only vehicle ..awesome. Unfortunately by now the light was really low…but I fired away anyway !!!

Image

Image

Image

Hyena and Pup

We spent a good half hour with them but yes eventually one has to leave in order to get back to camp in time. I was just thinking about the wonderful drive we had just experienced when yet again my eye caught something reddish walking along the ridge.

“Stop” I yelled………” Caracal”

Oh yes...we had just happened upon our second caracal sighting of the day. :dance:
A caracal sighting was on BN’s wishlist but she had not been entirely happy with our distant sighting on our morning walk down at TR.

“ Are you satisfied now BN ?”
Her reply….” Shot Mom !!!! “

Image

The caracal ambled along the ridge for quite a while before disappearing over it…. Not a good photographic opportunity at all but we all had plenty of time to watch that caracal amble along.
But oh my word…time ticketh on…we had to get back to camp...


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 Post subject: Re: The Kalahari will reveal itself ....
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2011 9:51 pm 
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Quote:
Caracal AGAIN - you lucky thing !!!


Yes indeed lucky.... :wink:

AND...

We made it back to camp...give or take a few seconds and it was full steam ahead with the braai. Well Doug "steamed" us right off that balcony :shock: ...BN, BEB and I were eventually sitting on the wooden walkway outside the kitchen door and Doug had the braai and the balcony all to himself. We could not cope with the heat coming from the braai :big_eyes: I did waterhole duty every now and then and soon we hit the jackpot :dance: …yes a caracal…our third sighting for the day. :dance: :dance:
The caracal was very skittish…and it seemed to disappear behind the same bush every time it retreated. I also noticed that the caracal kept looking in the direction of the bush while drinking ..did the caracal have a den behind that bush ????

Apart from the caracal we had seen jackals, bats, nightjars and a barn owl.

Eventually it was time to turn in for the night….I had one last look at the waterhole before switching off the light...and yes there was my caracal again just ending a drink at the waterhole. :D Good Night caracal !!!

It was so so sooo hot but I must have drifted off asleep. We were rudely awoken just before 2.00 am by tale-telling hyenas. Spotlight on the waterhole revealed 3 lionesses drinking at the waterhole. Doug went rushing off to call BN and BEB and I took the spotlight down to our kitchen balcony. The lionesses took their time while drinking and by now the hyenas had shut up and had disappeared into the shadows. The lionesses followed them into the darkness.

lionesses

I heard the hyenas twice more but the calls seemed further away so I did not get up to investigate…
Just after 4.00 am I needed some air so I decided to stand on the balcony and check the waterhole….and who should I see having a drink of water…yes my caracal again. :dance:
Good morning Caracal !!! :D

caracal

There was no point in trying to go back to sleep… the alarm would go off at 5.00 am….
What a night it had been….


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 Post subject: Re: The Kalahari will reveal itself ....
Unread postPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 8:32 am 
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We were out of camp sharp at 5h30…and we headed north. It was already 27° C.
Our first stop was the hyena den and this time we found all 4 adults as well as the pup.
Pup was a lot more lively than yesterday evening..

Image

The light was not particularly good for photography so I videoed mostly.

hyena mom and pup cavorting

We continued onto 13th..and it was quiet indeed...not many 4-legged creatures around and not many feathered friends around either. :shock: As we approached 13th we saw a lioness lying in the road…as Doug brought the car to a halt I noticed this chap right next to my side of the car. He got such a fright but he soon settled down and gazed at us….

Image

Image

We gazed at each other for sometime...

Image.

We then drove up closer to the female…she was not going to budge out of the road at all.

Image

And I mean not at all…..

Image

Her look said it all….I was here first and I am not budging.

There were 2 more young lions lying around in the bushes…it seemed their major purpose in life was to find a comfortable spot under a tree for the day.
Their tummies were full and they would no doubt hang around 13th all day.

The birds were starting to put in an appearance..

Image Cape Glossy Starling

14th borehole was quiet but a car pulled and chatted to us..it was Naturesguy..nice to meet you Naturesguy.

We were lucky enough to find the Batty family out of their den again.

Image

Again Pup #3 was being shy.

We then came across 2 cheetahs lying in the distance just before the turn off to Dalkeith…they were really far away and lying flat on the ground so much so that I did not bother to take a photo.
I then realised that we had seen 3 different kinds of cats so far that morning…caracal, lion and cheetah.
We continue into the loop and came across a couple of cars watching 4 lionesses. It was a bit cramped in the road so we decided to slowly drive past and continue on our journey. One of those cars contained Wanderw and family. We had a brief chat...but our vehicle was blocking somebody's view so yes our chat was brief !!! Nice chatting Wanderw :D :D :D
What we did notice though were these two females showing the Flehmen expression. I had not seen lionesses do this before….

They sniffed and walked in unison….it was actually quite funny to watch.

Image

( not a very ladylike expression of you ask me !!!)

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