Skip to content

SANParks.org Forums

View unanswered posts | View active topics






Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  Page 1 of 2
 [ 28 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: pantera leo Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May -June 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 3:16 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
As from the previous TR: Career in training, Kruger Style August 2010!!!

Quote:
. . . decided to stick to the "Kruger Style" TR Theme.
Others include:

Sweet solitude Kruger style June 2008
a GREEN SENSE of WONDER!!! - Kruger Style, Jan 2010 . . .


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed Jul 20, 2011 1:04 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
Friday 13th May 2011

Another day dawns for the workforce all over Gauteng, everyone stumbling out of bed to get ready and brave the traffic on their way to work.
Well not me, I am up with the birds and all excited as I'll be heading back to paradise, the chest that holds my heart, the beloved Kruger of course!!! :dance:

. . . the road is shrinking by the Kilometer and all is still well until about 60km north of Pretoria, suddenly my engine warning light appears immediately I check all the dials and true as bob the engine temp is through the roof! I slow down and come to a standstill all new to the "stranded next to the road" scenario. I open the bonnet of my car and it's just smoke everywhere with radiator fluid all over the engine. I quickly phoned my dad and then my nephew with all different thoughts running through my head. What did I do wrong? Was I driving too fast? What is this going to cost? Will I make it in time to Shingwedzi today? Will I even make it to my course up in the Makuleke?

My phone rang breaking my thoughts, it's my cousin letting me know they'll come to tow me back to their house as soon as the rest of the family left to go to Southern Kruger. So while waiting and having a nice chat to some of the roadside workers I also manage to do a bit of roadside birding. Had a couple of Green Wood-Hoopoes visiting along with a noisy family of Coqui Francolin and a Northern Black Korhaan etc.

Finally they arrived, checked what happened and then we started towing. Back at their house we started taking the engine apart (thank goodness they know about engines) and it's affirmative I blew a gasket. Late that night we are finally done and my car is operating like a dream again.

The next morning I get up even earlier to check that all is still well and to hit the road again as I had to be at Pafuri Gate by 14:00. A short drive down the street and not even 300m further and the tokolos in that engine triggered the warning light again. At this point I lost all hope and faith in my car. Once again we tow it back to their house but my nephew says there's no time to check what has gone wrong and that I should start unloading and reloading his car. Within twenty minutes we where back on the road again, such great help my nephew and cousin and I don't know how to thank them. Thank you!!! Thank you!!! Thank you!!! :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 10:09 am 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
Saturday 14 May 2011

We reached Pafuri Gate well in time and seeing as my nephew have not been to Kruger in many years we decided to do a quick drive through to Punda Maria.

Upon arrival at Punda, for the first time in my life I was amazed at the vegetation and atmosphere in the camp. It is such a wonderful little camp and I can't wait to be spending a couple of nights there in December! :dance:

After enjoying a wonderful lunch and filling up with petrol we headed back to Pafuri Gate. The safari vehicle was already there and waiting. I quickly unloaded everything and then said my goodbyes ready for the next six weeks of adventure to begin.

Luckily I wasn't the only one that was late and we eventually had to leave as we found out that some of the other group members got stuck at the Mozambique border etc. and wouldn't make it until quite late.

A small convoy set off from the gate to the parking lot at the concession managers house which is situated close to the Levuvhu bridge and Pafuri airstrip. At the bridge a few more students joined us and from there we took the long road back to camp. It was such an amazing experience to be able to drive off the normal Kruger roads and on these small no entry roads.

Arriving at camp we all got allocated our safari tents for the advanced birding course and I got lucky number five, the tent right on the eastern boundary. This of course provided excellent views of the rising sun and an uninterrupted view of the bush.

View of some of the tents, mine is the one in the middle.
Image

The boundaries of the camp was quite simply consisting of an inner and outer fire-break thus no fences :twisted: making it all the more exciting!!! :dance:

View from my tent deck.
Image

We barely settled and then got called over to The Deck, now as the name suggest it is deck a meter off the ground covered by a lapa. And for that extra ambience it is situated under some large beautiful Nyala trees.

The Deck
Image

Image

Our instructor for the course quickly ran through the rules as all the other students where on the year course and completed their Trails Course about 6 months previously.

Thereafter we enjoyed some lovely muffins and juice/coffee/tea and I then made my way back to the tent to start unpacking seeing as though this would be my home not just for a week as with the other student, but for almost 6 weeks!!! :dance:

Later on the drums where beaten (we did not work on a strict time schedule, so we could switch off and tune into the bush and natural surroundings) which meant we had to assemble at the deck.

A wonderful meal was prepared and we had a great evening, after dinner some went to bed including myself while others sat chatting around the camp fire till late that night.

That first night was quite difficult to sleep as I was not used to all the noises around me especially since I've never been in Kruger during the Impala rut, and it was prime time, and made for a long first night.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 13, 2011 6:00 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
Sunday 15 May 2011 Part 1

To be awoken by the drums of Africa and taking a breath of fresh Kruger air would be more than enough reason to wake up, yet I had a new experience waiting on me!

Not twenty minutes later I was showered, dressed and backpack ready and packed sipping coffee and enjoying the morning chorus of Kruger. A sense of belonging taking hold of me and sending chills down my spine contemplating the thought of being on foot in the wilds of Kruger. . .

As soon as everyone was done with coffee we made our way to the outer perimeter of camp. Here we took a couple of minutes tuning our ears to the songs and contact calls of the feathered folk. Just before we started walking our guides/instructors loaded their weapons and gave a brief outline of the rules (remember all the other student have already done their trails and are more than in tune with their environment). The only lady in the group quickly turned around as soon as we sat off and made sure I understand everything. YES mam!!! :shock: Quickly following in front of her as she wants to keep an eye on me, I later understood why.

The pace was slow and with numerous stops in between to do birding (thank goodness as I wasn't used to this much "off-roading"). I was dumb-founded with all the noises in the bush and the new surroundings, there wasn't enough time to process everything. I hardly knew that by the end of the six weeks I would be able to do this very same route with my eyes closed. Come to think of it I can even tell you on Google Earth which trees are which, what's their botanical names and what is their ecological/medicinal value! :lol:

By the time we reached Lala Palm windmill it was already an hour later with 3 new birds on my list. Just out of general info the windmill is actually about 5 minutes walk from camp, so I guess you can all get an idea of how "fast" we where travelling.

The drinking trough at Lala Palm windmill.
Image

Lots of birds came down to drink as it was heating up quite nicely, unfortunately we had to move on and get to our destination for the day, the Fevertree Forest. :dance:
I was amazed by the majesty and beauty of the forest as this was my first time seeing one let alone experiencing it on foot. In the background of the above picture you can have a glimpse of the forest as I'll leave the photo's till later in some of the numerous other trips through there.

We barely entered the forest when the call of an Eastern Nicator caught our attention. We moved in its direction to try and find it but in the end we weren't able to locate it due to a big hairy reason. A herd of Buffalo was in our way, unaware of our presence they passed about 80 meters in front of us. It was a pretty amazing experience observing these wonderful animals in their natural environment.

The Buffalo barely passed when the sound of an Elephant breeding herds screaming reverberated through the forest. We had to start moving as we knew they where making their way to the windmill to drink and that they would be cutting off our route to camp.

It was hot and the pace was fast and as we caught sight of the windmill they beat us to it. There was no time to sit around and admire them as they where in a pretty foul mood. We made our way into the ridges now forced to take the long way back to camp. I was spent and no longer in amood to be out there. The back-up/other instructor was happily babbling along about the vultures, I tried to keep to the shade I've seen vultures before. :naughty: You'll see that this first week took it's toll on me as I'm not good with handling heat, tiredness and blood sweat.

Our head instructor went ahead to see if we would be able to cross the ridge behind camp as there was another herd of Elephants somewhere in the ridges towards camp. When he finally arrived back he told us to hurry as we only had a small window to get over the ridge to the other-side. It towered above me like a mountain but eventually made it over and then it was rather straightforward to get to camp. The trail of that morning was but a mere 5km spread over 4hours.

Arriving at camp I had to get to a shower, all the rest where still fine and ready for fun and games. I couldn't understand this I was spent! I barely got out of the shower when the drums went and it was time for brunch, only now did I realize how hungry I was as it was already 11am.

This brunch was better than any I had before and it's amazing how you learn to appreciate even something like food which most of us don't even consider to be something major in our lives.
A quick break and then it was time for the afternoon lectures, this got me focused again and by then I've already forgotten the ordeal of the morning. . .


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:26 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
Sunday 15 May 2011 Part 2

Lectures done I decided to stroll around camp to up the birdlist for the day is we each had to complete a checklist for the day. I added a Yellow-breasted Apalis to my list and also enjoyed splendid views of Blue Waxbills and Red-billed Firefinches to name but a few. Birding was eventually interupted by the drums and it was time for lunch.

After lunch I had to rush to get ready for the afternoon activity. We sat off to go birding along one of the pans in a part of the Fevertree forest next to the Luvuvhu. It was quite a drive to get there especially with all the stops in between to do birding but as we reached it we where greeted by the most spectacular display of colours. The Forest comes alive in the rays of light penetrating from the side causing one to gasp for breath.

We had numerous Impala and Baboon as we made our way to the edge of the pan. Also on the way we saw two Hamerkop mating, what a noisy "affair"!!! :shock:

At the pan we where spoilt for choice no matter where we looked you got see birds. A Green-backed Heron near some logs to the left, numerous Three-banded Plovers on the mudflats infront of us. Hundreds of Herons, Egrets and African Openbills in the trees and on the shoreline. On the opposite bank a mixed flock of White-faced and Comb Ducks also Egyptian and Spur-winged Geese.

As we made our way along the northern shore careful not to disturb the birds, all suddenly caught flight as an African Fish-Eagle came flying over the pan. Once it passed all the birds settled down again, the Pied Kingfishers started hovering again and the African Jacana's where darting over the Water lilies.

A picture I took with my Cellphone just to give you an idea of what it looks like at Reedbuckvlei.
Image

As you can see from the picture the sun was starting to set so we had to make our way back to the vehicle, but not before we stopped to admire the site of a Daggaboy on the opposite side of the pan.

On the way to the vehicle we passed by a tree full of African Openbill's and next to the vehicle in the Baobab sat a Tawny Eagle.

The road back to Camp delivered an unidentified Nightjar and a good number of Bronze-winged Coursers. Arriving back at camp we enjoyed a wonderful dinner and afterwards sat talking about the day and the other students previous adventures while starring into the fire and listening to the calls of a Hyena. . .


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:35 am 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
Monday 16 May 2011 Part 1

I woke to the most wonderful calls of the White-browed Robin-Chat calling its heart out from the Cucumber Bush nest to my tent. The faint line of light appearing in the East got me going and once again I made it to the deck in record time. When I arrived I came to realise that the drums have not been beaten yet and that no one was awake yet. This was perfect though as I just sat on the deck taking in the beauty of the bush awakening. After about half an hour we were all up and ready to go, off to a new adventure a splendid part of virgin Kruger for myself to go and explore. What I wasn't prepared for though was how chilly the mornings can actually be on the back of an open Landy just after sunrise! :big_eyes:

By the time we arrived at the starting point at the bottom of Sandpad we where greeting with the calls of the Gorgeous Bush-Shrike from the riverine forest towards the East. Unfortunately he was calling from the opposite side from where we would be travelling the morning. The main aim being the Makwadzi Pan. We sat off towards the pan still semi frozen but as soon as the birding came to life in the early morning rays the spirits were lifted and we were too preoccupied in trying to identify all the species around us including Long-billed Crombec, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Blue Waxbill and the different Firefinches.

The way I can describe the start of the walk over this mini floodplain is that it is almost like a miniature valley running West to East parallel to the Limpopo even though you cant see the river because it is hidden behind some exceptionally thick riparian growth topped up with tall Fever Trees. In the middle of the "valley" there is a drainage line with some rather steep sides (this came in useful towards the end of the Trails course, but I'll tell you all about that later). In the South there where rolling hills covered with thick Mopane woodlands. We never explored the area directly to the East of the road as the aim was always the Makwadzi pan towards the West. At the top/Western end of this valley it opens up into what looks like a little crater with the pan right in the centre.

Now to get back to the action, we had not made it very far up into this valley when we heard a thrashing of leaves. This caused a bit of a fright and everyone was on edge as it sounded quite close, and indeed it was. We eventually found the culprit causing the racket, it was a juvenile African Harrier-Hawk after it's prey in some of the Lala Palms. Moving on from here we moved closer to the Limpopo River as there was a clearing in the dense vegetation. We were only next to a side stream and it did not have too much water but at least enough to grant us the pleasure of revealing a little jewel in the form of a Malachite Kingfisher! After this delightful and colourful view we turned our attention to another beautiful bird the Purple Roller which also put in its appearance. As soon as he left his perch the next bird on our list pitched in the form of a Dusky Indigobird.

We then crossed the drainage line and went about a third up the hill so as not to disturb the Impala grazing in the entrance to the Makwadzi floodplain. What a good decision, as we sat admiring the wonderful view over the pan, Buffalo grazing the tall grass on the Southern bank and Elephant bulls in the reeds. A mega tick made its appearance in the form of a White-breasted Cuckoo-Shrike. Our instructor was ecstatic and we sat off after the feathered friend. After loosing the battle to keep up a few minutes later we headed towards the pan again. Passing the open ground we had great views of the African Pipits and we also had some Grey-headed Parrots making their way to South Africa from Zimbabwe.

The water as always was abuzz with birdlife, African Darters and Reed Cormorants sunning themselves on the dry branches. Red-knobbed Coots and Little Grebes dashing about the water surface like speedboats. The Burchell's Coucal bubbling away in the reeds while a Grey Heron was busy patrolling the water for breakfast. Up above us the African Palm-Swifts where piercing the sky with their speed, agility and calls. Before we knew it we spent more than an hour next to the pan and it was time to head back to the vehicle. We decided to go along the valley again but this time along the fringe of Fever Trees. Here we had some amazing views of Southern Black Flycatcher, while the air was filled with the calls of the Red-capped Robin-Chats and Sombre Greenbuls. By the time we got back to the Landy it was boiling hot again and the chill of the morning was long forgotten. The Gorgeous Bush-Shrike was still calling albeit not as eager as earlier and we decided to drive into the thicket along the road to try and find it. Unfortunately we returned empty handed and returned to camp and yet another wonderful brunch.

Brunch as usual was followed by a short break to freshen up and then we had our lecture for the day. Thereafter I made use of the Siesta time and got ready for the afternoon activity which would depart just after lunch.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 3:41 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
Monday 16 May 2011 Part 2

We had a wonderful lunch and then set off on a game drive towards Levuvhu West. Just as we passed the ridge behind camp and next to Lala Palm windmill we were greeted first by the most horrid smell and then by the sight of a large mixed flock of White-backed and Lappet-faced Vultures along with some adult and juvenile Bateleurs. It was clear there was a kill and we all desperately longed to investigate it but unfortunately we still had quite a drive and the main aim was birding.

As we neared the turn-off of Mangeba Road which would take us back to the Pafuri Main tar road we hit a roadblock. A breeding herd of Elephants blocked our path, we decided to switch off and enjoy the sight for a couple of minutes to see whether they would cross and let us pass, but to no avail. The just kept moving back and forth across the road and we had no choice but to turn around and take the long way round, but not before some pics of course.

Image

Image

Now we where a bit pushed for time as we had to drive back all the way to camp and then continue on for approximately the same distance then use Sandpad to head to Pafuri Main and drive all the way back that same distance! But I guess everything works out for some or other reason.

We passed the vultures and stench again and just after passing by the camp we found a pair of Dubble-banded Sandgrouse.

Image

We eventually reached Sandpad and we barely started our trek over the rolling hills when we came to an abrupt stop! A surge of electricity coursed through me as I heard the words and saw the flutter of feathers disappearing into the Mopane veld. . .
My very first Racket-tailed Roller, even though it was just a glimpse worth a second or two it was definitely worth the exhilarating feeling!!!

The rest of Sandpad was definitely quiet compared to the Roller sighting. On Pafuri Main we had a great view of a Dark-Chanting Goshawk and upon reaching the Levuvhu River bridge we had some magnificent views of an African Fish-Eagle. We stayed on the bridge for a couple more minutes in the hope of catching a glimpse of the elusive Bat Hawk but it was not to be and we made our way upstream along the river in search of the Pel's Fishing-Owl. The road provided us with numerous Large- & Small- Spotted Genet sightings as well as a single African Civet. The river front did not deliver in terms of Owls though but we had plentiful sightings of Square-tailed and Fiery-necked Nightjars. On our way back to camp we passed a large herd of Buffalo on the Pafuri airstrip as well as some Eland on Mangeba Road.

As we approached camp our noses got clogged with the smell of the kill from earlier. And as we turned the corner we were greeted by the flash of a Leopard darting across the road!!! :big_eyes: As soon as it reached the Feverberries it wasn't in such a hurry any more and showed itself every now and again for probably five to ten minutes until it disappeared behind a small hill. Our evening was definitely successful even though we returned without a Bat Hawk or Pel's Fishing-Owl, luckily they assured me that we would go again some time during the week.

At camp we had a wonderful dinner ready and afterwards sat around the camp fire enjoying the calls of the Kruger night until it was time to head for bed, another exciting day awaited us and the sooner you go to sleep the sooner it will arrive. . .


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:33 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
Tuesday 17 May 2011 Part 1

Dawn broke with a dampened chorus and the light of a dimmed sunrise. This caused the day to start off pretty slow, if only I knew how exciting it would get.

As we left camp the sun just started breaking through the clouds and the wind died down a bit. It was quite a drive to get to our destination but the scenery was amazing. We passed Makwadzi Pan where we walked the previous day. From there we drove through some wonderful Mopane tree veld and stopped at the foot of a mountain called Banyini.

We barely started walking when we stopped to admire the Verreaux's Eagle on the nest high up on the cliffs. As we meandered along the foot of the mountain towards the pan bearing the same name we had wonderful sightings of Lilac-breasted Rollers and White-fronted Bee-eaters hawking insects from al around us. As we rounded a couple of large Sicklebush the pan was stretched out in front of us and was it filled with birdlife! Makwadzi had nothing compared to this pan.

Grey and Goliath Herons where wading the shallows along with numerous Great Egret. A Green-backed Heron made a quick appearance while the Squacco Herons sat chatting in the trees. An African Fish-Eagle gave it's call from the large Sycamore Figs to the right on the slope of the mountain. This sent the African Openbills scattering which in turn flushed some Yellow-billed, White-faced and Comb Ducks. There was what seemed to be about three Burchell's Coucal until we investigated further and one did not have any of the characteristic barring on the upper tail and so yet another species for the list made its appearance, the Senegal Coucal.

We slowly started moving along the northern bank at the foot of the hill. We soon found a juvenile Moorhen and we approached with caution up to about fifteen meters without it noticing us. Now came the difficult task of trying to ID it all holding thumbs that it could be a Lesser Moorhen, but alas in the end we decided the most likely answer would be Common, and by then he dashed to the safety of the long grass. In and amongst the tangled grass and water lilies we caught glimpses of African Jacana, Black Crake and Little Grebe.

We walked up to the trees from where the Fish-Eagle was calling from earlier hoping to spy on him/her, unfortunately it moved off before we could get a clear view. We decided to take our break now and enjoyed the amazing vista in front of us. It looked like a miniature version of the Okavango Delta because almost 90% of the pan surface was overgrown with the most luscious green grass imaginable. Movement caught our attention and pulled us out of the trance, a Saddle-billed Stork glided effortlessly over the green mass while the Fish-Eagle called in the background. Paradise, heaven on earth indeed.

Break over and we began to backtrack. At the site where the Squacco's assembled earlier a whole horde of Little Bee-eaters took over, and instead of Yellow-billed Ducks being flushed they where replaced by a single Red-billed Teal. What an amazing colour show for the day. We made our way carefully over the grass covered muddy ground so as not to lose our footing. Safely on the other side we had the time to admire a hovering Pied Kingfisher before moving on. Apart from scaring up a mixed flock of White-faced Ducks and Spur-winged Geese nothing major was found for a while, until we decided to climb a little rocky outcrop from where we could scan the pan.

Upon reaching the top we where astounded once again by the view in front of us. Our attention quickly shifted though as we where instructed to sit down and keep quiet by our instructor. Some Elephant bulls made their way down towards the water. What an experience sitting up above them not even forty meters away watching them behave like little kids as soon as they reached the mud. They rolled around splashed about, chased one another spraying themselves with muddy water oblivious to our presence.

Twenty minutes later and we had to start heading back. We where lead out by the back-up while the lead instructor covered the rear. Birding over for the day we made our way towards the landy all exited. Unfortunately this came at a price, our caution level was lowered slightly and as we moved down the little valley created by the drainage line we almost walked straight into some more Elephant bulls on their way down to the water. They appeared from behind bushes as if out of nowhere. The lead made a quick movement with his hand and arm steering us to the one side into the shade. We responded with a quick walk directly from our walking position, bugger a single file line. We marched up to the shade like and army line front approaching the enemy even though the shade would be our friend. The shade had a dual purpose not only did it provide cover from the sun but it also semi concealed us as the Ellies had to peer into the darkness from a bright sunny spot.

They were very relaxed and simply moved past about 25 meters from us, gave a quick glance in our direction and carried on. The rest of the walk was quiet and uneventful, and then we headed back to camp and a hearty brunch.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 12:51 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
Tuesday 17 May 2011 Part 2

All the usual followed after brunch and and as we finished lunch we sat off in the Landy again, once again to a new pan. It wasn't too far a drive to get to Nhlangaluwe, a new pan indeed but one I would get well acquainted with and grow so fond of it was hard to say goodbye. Now it wasn't nearly the size of of any of the three previous pans we visited but it had a strange charm about it.

We walked from the "three strange Baobabs" my own name for them because they looked so odd.

One of the trees.
Image

On our way down to the pan birding was quite slow due to the early start and heat of the afternoon. In some of the Fever Trees in the ditch towards the left a couple of Little Bee-eaters where hawking insects off one of the sacrificial branches. Down below them in the tall grass and reeds a Brown-crowned Tchagra was calling its heart out in the characteristic "falling-leaf" song.

Over at the clearing of Palm Vlei there where some Kudu and Zebra eyeing us along with a Lilac-breasted Roller. It looked so comical turning its head from side to side. We rounded the corner and caught a glimpse of the water, on the mud flats we could see some Yellow-billed Storks. Only later did we see how many they where, in total more than forty with more than half busy in their bill snapping ritual. This was because it was the start of the breeding season. On queue almost as if ordered an African Fish-Eagle did a fly by which sent the whole flock scattering, some flew away but almost half circled and then came down on the trees on the opposite shore.

This photo was taken from the opposite shore at a latter date. The Storks all sat crammed on the mudflat to the left of the small Fever tree.
Image

What a privilege it was just enjoying the "silence" while we sat here for over an hour just absorbing all the bird calls and sounds of the bush. Also added a new bird to my list in the form of Grey Tit-flycatcher gleaning insects from the Knob-thorns around us.

The sun was getting pretty low down on the horizon and we had to start heading back to the vehicle. En route we heard some Elephants back in the Fever tree forest while a Leopard was calling from the ridges. . .


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 5:43 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
Wednesday 18 May 2011

The night before we had a lovely time around the camp fire and sat chatting until after midnight. Naturally it was great to only get up after 7 the next morning. Reason for the sleep in was that we had to finish with all the lectures today. From 8 till 11 we crammed in the last of all the lectures with only short breaks in between.

We then had another hearty brunch and siesta. Just before lunch we decided to take a short walk to the kill site to the back of the ridge behind camp. The walk was hot and the smell was unbearable but the sight was amazing!

It was a vision taking me back to my first few years on earth and the amazement I had for the statue in Skukuza of the entangled Kudu bulls. Yes, you guessed it here before my very own eyes I saw the carcasses of two Kudu bulls. They where already cleaned off pretty good by the Lions, Leopard, Hyenna and Jackal whose spoor we found in the vicinity.

Image

Image

With this amazing sight engraved in my memory forever and the thoughts of what had played off here we headed back to camp for lunch.

For the afternoon another drive to Levuvhu West was planned. We were all enjoying the the drive when we noticed that we turned down the small road leading past Mangeba windmill instead of carrying on a few meters and turning down Mangeba road that joins Pafuri main.

We passed through a stretch of the entangled Fever tree Forest to where there was a grassy clearing next to the Limpopo. The river was flowing about five meters below us. What was so amazing was that we where only anther few meters away from a whole breeding colony of White-fronted Bee-eaters. They were whizzing all about the air above us. The sunset was spectacular of the river and so was the moonrise. What a great place to enjoy some sundowners and enjoy the company of great new friends and nature!

The drive to Levhuvhu West was quite slow and the river front once again did not provide any Pel's. We did hear some Lions roaring further upstream in the direction of Lanner Gorge but we had to head back to camp. We had a magnificent sighting of an Spotted Eagle-Owl on Mangeba. The stretch just before camp produced numerous Bronze-winged Coursers but no Three-banded.

Another great lunch was followed by another late night spent having a great time around the camp fire.


Last edited by pantera leo on Sun Oct 23, 2011 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 7:08 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
Thursday 19 May 2011 Part 1

Dawn broke and it was quite a strenuous start to the day. Clearly the past two nights and couple of days started taking its toll. The wonderful news of a walk to Nwambi (a new pan) quickly spread and after a quick coffee we piled onto the Landy and sat off on the 45 minute drive to get there.

We started our walk from the Bvekenya Monument in a southerly direction to reach the pan. Our instructor also decided to log the pentad for the SABAP2 (2nd South African Bird Atlas Project) this would mean you record all the species you can positively identify by sight and sound in numerical order for a minimum of 2-3 hours, maximum 5 days.

Or walk down to the pan was filled with lots of the usual birdlife and the odd Warthog and Zebra herd. Over at Nwambi pan we encountered a lovely troop of Vervets enjoying the morning rays while the sat sunbathing in the tops of the large Jackalberry trees. As we made our way to the side of the pan we noticed some Elephant bulls approaching the water. We snuck closer to the water edge and made ourselves comfortable awaiting their arrival. We spent about half an hour soaking up the amazing moment.

This photo was once again taken with my cellphone.
Image

As soon as the Ellies had their fill and moved off we started making our way back to the vehicle. Another special awaited us in the blistering hot late morning hours in the form of a family of Mottled Spinetails. We finished the walk with 107 species in just over four hours.

The drive back was filled with a lot of internal jokes and humour to lighten the spirit before we got to camp.

Upon arrival we had time to freshen up before brunch and directly thereafter we had our Theory, Slide and Sound Assessments.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 7:07 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
Thursday 19 May 2011 Part 2

Marking went quick and about an hour after lunch we all had our marks. All the work and stressful stuff now over we could relax and enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening.

We decided to head down to the Limpopo Lookout at Mapimbi Pan. I questioned the dark clouds but it seemed to clear out from the prevailing wind direction. On our way there we had awesome sightings of the Buffalo Herd down on the floodplain. Close to the turn off to Mapimbi Pan we passed an Elephant bull in musth who was remarkably calm.

The little winding round took us past the famous "Big Baobab" of the Makuleke. Too good an opportunity to pass up we stopped to admire its beauty.

Image

After our brief stop of admiration we made our way to the Limpopo river to enjoy some well deserved sundowners. These unfortunately were cut short as the rain started building again. About a quarter of the way back to camp we stopped at a clearing and switched off to enjoy the fantastic show of lightning all around us.

Not even half way back the rain came pouring down and we were absolutely drenced by the time we reached camp. We were just done in the showers when the rain stopped and we had a wonderful evening next to the camp fire!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 12:42 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
Friday 20 May 2011

Friday morning and dawn broke way too quick. The cloudy and windy weather did nothing to lighten the sombre mood but unfortunately all good thinks have to come to an end eventually. I quickly helped getting everyone sorted with some coffee and muffins and thereafter to load the vehicle.

The drive to the parking lot was pretty quiet and the goodbyes even more so. Camp was pretty quiet as all the instructors where either heading home or to town and the only back-up had to do the food run. This meant that I had to drive the Landy back to camp. This was to be my first time driving in Kruger and what made it even better was the fact that it was an open vehicle and I was allowed to drive on the no-entry roads!!! :dance: What a first drive, I took it slow to try and stretch it forever but I eventually reached camp about two hours later.

En route back from the parking lot I had some wonderful views of Kudu and Eland as well as a Daggaboy in the ridges. Just before camp at Lalapalm Windmill there was as always plenty of action. A Warthog mother was chasing her piglets across the open ground with some dumbfounded Baboons staring at them from up in the Lala Palms they must have thought it was some sort of game show. The Nyalas were just browsing away not too bothered and trying to look as elegant as always.

Arriving back at camp I quickly sorted my room and then made my way to the Deck. I met up with the back-up which had just returned and quickly helped him unload the food. After lunch we went on a drive to see what birds we could find and to go to one of the hills on the Western boundary to get some signal to phone home.

The evening was spent having a nice braai and getting to know the instructor and his wife better.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 3:00 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
Saturday 21 May 2011

Saturday morning broke with the most spectacular sunrise! It was so amazing to just sit on the deck of my tent enjoying the early morning choir splendour in solitude. The day was quite nice and slow with not too much on the menu.

Just after 8am I started on both my Core and Savanna Slide & Sound assessment. Made a couple of stupid mistakes here and there but luckily I knew what I had done wrong. I still passed with flying colours and that afternoon and evening was spent at one of the private lodges enjoying some great company while watching the rugby.

After we returned to camp I quickly scanned over my practical assessment papers to ensure that I was prepared for my assessment the next morning.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Magical Meanderings, Kruger Style May - June 2011
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 8:52 pm 
Offline
Virtual Ranger
Virtual Ranger
User avatar

Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:53 pm
Posts: 1074
Location: Bloemfontein
Sunday 22 May 2011

Sunday morning and I'm up very early to ensure that all is set for my practical. I was tossing and turning the night before and got very little sleep. Luckily during the restless night I finally made up my mind as to where I would be doing my walk. Reedbuckvlei made such an impression on me and I was sure that there would be more than enough birds out there to keep us occupied.

After sorting out a basket to have a bit of a picnic I hurried my instructor along a bit as I knew it was quite a drive to reach the pan and I had to reach my total of 100 birds as part of the practical to be able to pass.

The road to the pan was wonderful and delivered numerous nice birds as well as the odd mammal. Also had my first close up Ellie encounter driving a vehicle, what a lovely bit of adrenalin rush to kick start the walk.

We sat of in roughly an Easterly direction moving round the pan in a clockwise direction.
Definite highlights included a White-breasted Cuckooshrike on the opposite side of the pan in the Fevertrees, Southern Ground-Hornbills calling in the distance and my first Retz's Helmet-Shrikes a whole family of them while we were enjoying our coffee and rusks.

Cutting a long story short due to all the stress my memory is a bit foggy I did eventually manage to add all my birds and I passed my Slide & Sound assessments so I was rewarded with my FGASA Birding Specialist for the Savanna Biome Certificate when I finally got home.

It was such a wonderful course and time and the best of it all was that the next day my Trails Guide course of a month would start so much more to look forward to!!!


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 28 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Pumbaa and 6 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group

Webcams Highlights

Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Addo Nossob Orpen Satara
Submitted by ngwenya at 14:23:30 Submitted by rodandginge at 13:25:19 Submitted by fenman5 at 10:41:13 Submitted by MxM at 10:14:10