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 Post subject: noel Kruger in a sombre mood in March (april 2012)
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:07 pm 
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Well it seemed so to me at any rate, Kruger in a sombre almost unyielding mood during my visit from 21-26 March. Sightings were hard to come by, many people I spoke to said it was a "bad time of the year" if there can ever be such a thing in Kruger. Seems even some forumites, who have posted TR feel that it is not the best time for game viewing. Perhaps it was me, or my sensitivity, but I felt Kruger was sombre, what with the recent floods that did so much damage, and of course the ongoing strike by staff and workers in the Park, and hanging like a black cloud over them all is the ever present threat of Rhino poaching. Or perhaps it was the fact that I saw a road kill in front of my eyes (a snake) plus other road kills, well it all makes one rather sombre.
I had 5 nights and 6 days, and as usual budget is the matter that decides where I stay, opting for the cheaper Safari tents, and only Skuks, Letaba, Croc Bridge, and L/S have these, so when I did online bookings, Letaba had some for the 21st and 22nd, and from then on it was take what is available- and it worked out 2 Nights in Letaba, 1 in Skuks, one in Croc Bridge and one in L/S. I had a great time, and this TR will share some of the highlights by way of photo mostly, with comments here and there.
The road between White River and Numbi gate was atrocious, but it is the one I always will use if I go to Park, and I had already opted to drive through the Park to Letaba, rather than travel to Phalaborwa. That way I could enjoy some sightings, and I wanted to make a quick excursion to Lake Panic as well. I regretted that decision later, what with the condition of that road and the low levels of game, i'll be thnking twice about that route next time.

I met only two fellow forumites, Blommetjite with her SO and some friends at the entrance Gate, we had a nice chat and Mellory and her SO.
Left Johannesburg at 04:30, a very pleasant drive, Stop of at Pick 'n Pay for the usual food supplies, plus the traditional koeksisters (x2 this time) to have with a cup of coffee at the gate. Excitment had by now mounted to a high level of expectation. Camera and binos and map out of the boot, tying the yellow ribbon onto the mirror (which is what got Blommettjie to ak me about my forum name) and i'm off, with the personal competition of what I would see first.

First up- the sunrise that makes the heart glad on the N4
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Close to the Tollgate there is this industrial sight which begged me to take a photo
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Fog on the N4 is always a risk and a threat, which fortunately this time was short lived and only for a few kms.
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Until later-cheerio for now.


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in a sombre mood in March
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:30 pm 
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Day 1-21 March

The first animal seen, not impala for a change, but Rhino, far away, 3 of them, for which I was glad.
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Shitlave Dam next, with its usual regulars.
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On the far bank
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Much closer
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This fellow was quite shy and preferred to play hide and seek
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Lark
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This fellow crossed my path
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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in a sombre mood in March
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:10 pm 
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Thanks Rookie. Been reading your TR and honeymoon adventures. Also had my honeymoon in Kruger, but that was 22 years ago. Best place for honeymoon I reckon.


This Dragonfly thinks its a ballerina-Shitlave Dam
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Buffalo on the Nhlapi Boulders road always seem to be there.
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Guinea fowl always there to welcome you back.
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Lovely to see the European Rollers.
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As are the Magpie shrikes
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Transport Dam was unusually sparse, with the local Crocodile patrolling
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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in a sombre mood in March
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:27 pm 
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Thanks Pumbaa.

A short visit to Lake Panic it would have to be, seeing that I had a long way still to go.
I like reflection shots like this
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The Jacana's too were shy and hiding today. Perhaps they knew it was a public holiday
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A hippo came cruising past
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While others were watching me from a distance
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Some elephants were seen on the route north
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As was this Kudu bull. Saw surprisingly little of these during my time
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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in a sombre mood in March
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:38 pm 
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My first Carmine Bee Eater, which I had been looking forward to seeing :dance:
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Some vultures were flying by
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Then these two brothers caused a traffic jam, just as I was cruising.
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And like all good brothers, they were having a fight, which is what caused the traffic jam. the first blow.
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The next blow.
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Leeupan was looking magnificient with thousands of water lilies
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and there I also spotted a family of White faced duck
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Another set of brothers who were not going to fight
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And another Rhino.
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Good night


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in a sombre mood in March
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:21 pm 
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Thanks Heksie, Vlakvarkvrou, Chirinda, Son Godin and Bert. Please don''t get me wrong, I love being in Kruger anytime. Indeed, 10 minute excursion to Lake panic is all I need to get rid of 3 months stress in Johannesburg. I loved being there, every minute of it. As I said, perhaps it was me, but I thought Kruger was playing hard to get. And some things just upset you, more of which will follow as we go along. Guess its one of those trips where the principle "right place at the right time"just did'nt happen. I did get to see a lot of birds, many first timers and though I am a keen birder, I am not fanatical, and I enjoy just seeing some birds for the first time. More of that later.
As you will have gathered, I had to move at a fairly brisk pace, keeping to the main road, to get to Letaba on time, so no stopping for too long at sightings. Breezed past Tshokwane as I knew it was closed.
Some herons at Mazithi Dam attracted my attention
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As did another European Roller.
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And Carmine Bee Eater
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This big tusker, One of many that saw, came for a drink just as I arrived at Ngotso Dam I think.
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A quick pitstop at Satara, which turned out to be a long stop, looking for the owl, and trying to capture some blue waxbills-they are so elusive even in the camps. Never got the pics, but did get to admire those beautiful Fever trees in Satara.
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Wildebeest are always to be found around Satara
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And another Bull elephant, to my delight :dance: .
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I usually stop when I see a Lark, as they do tend to make you happier. :D
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More coming up


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in a sombre mood in March
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:04 pm 
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And then onr of my favourite Raptors made an appearance
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And then a Kori Bustard, where a most peculiar thing happened. It was being harrassed by a Fork tailed Drongo, and it promptly ducked quite low between the grass until the danger was gone. I remember thinking, here you have the world's largest flying bird afraid of a small bird like a Drongo. What else can I say about the Drongo.
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Ducking
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I had seen on the sightings board that lion was seen north of Satara and sure enough it was there, a single female guarding a buffalo kill. She was well hiddden in the yellow grass, and of course plenty of cars, which did not allow much opportunity for pics. I was well aware of the need to press on north. This is the best I could get.
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The vultures were there, though quote a bit away from the carcass.
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This is what was on the menu for them
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Another ER
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Tusker,
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A Magpie shrike.
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And to add to my joy, some Wattled Starlings
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I'll close tonight with another pic of that bull posted earlier
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Good night


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in a sombre mood in March
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:09 pm 
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Thanks Puppy, Hilda, Meandering Mouse, Barryels, John n Poppy and Ossendryver for all you kind comments. MM, I agree with you, even though it was still very hot in the Park, the predictions for Skukuza for the day I was going to be there was a sizzling 34degrees.
Lets see if we can finish at least day 1.
A young Zebra gave me some delight
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A section of the H1-5 was still closed, with a detour past Balule, to get to Olifants, where you can then rejoin the H1-5. A short detour, and one which I approached positively as an opportunity to what would be on offer. Pretty little, to my dismay, but did get this Maribou stork
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Shortly after joining the H1-6 a traffic jan ahead. One of the big cats I was sure, and as I had been praying and hoping for all of the big five each day (it did not happen) I was delighted when it turned out to be a leopard, giving me a big 5day, the first time that has happened in a long while in all my visits to the Park. It was sleeping in the river bed, and this is the best angle I could get, seeing that some motorists (like me :lol: ) simply park and refuse to budge an inch, that is the way its stays though I guess they were probably staying in Oliphants camp and could afford to wait for the leopard to move. You have to make the most of an opportunity, and a spot was kindly given to me by an asian couple whom I was to meet again at the reception desk of Letaba. There they queried how to go about paying a fine? They did go rather fast in their Iveco bus.
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An orb web spider provided some substance for nightmares- there are so many of them in the park that I saw.
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Another Bull was seen- a with one broken off tusk.
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I quite l ike this image of the Oliphants river after the floods.
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Last installment coming up


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in a sombre mood in March
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:40 pm 
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:big_eyes: And just before Letaba gate, a humongous Elephant bull. WOW, I reckon this must be the biggest ele I have ever seen. Unfortunately it was heading away from the gate, and as I had a mere five minutes of so before gate closing, I could not get a frontal image, as I am sure this is one of Aat's named Tuskers. He had a beautiful set of tusks.
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There was another couple in the car also watching this beauty, and we were together at reception, and I commented to the lady, WOW, what a huge elephant that was, which she agreed with, adding she was thankful that it did not turn around and head our way. She could not have been as thankful as I was. It made my little car look very small indeed.

Booking in was a breeze and off to find my tent, which was a bit difficult, but eventually found it, and unpacked, get ready for a much needed shower. ANd then anothere peculiar thing happened. Sanparks had arranged a sleeping companion for me. :big_eyes: Without my consent :rtm: There is was on my pillow, waiting for my arrival.
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Now I am not the sort of fellow who shares my pillow and bed with any body. So sticking to my prinicples on these matters, I politely asked it to move, get out, make youself scarce, but it refused. :whistle: Sure, it was gorgeous, but the principle of the matter? It had to be "skopped"(kicked) out. :hmz: :hmz: Ok, here's the plan, I took the map of the camp you usually get at reception, and gently slid it under my-intended-night-companion, and with no visible or audible protests, lifted it, took it outside and released it outside my tent. Phew, that could have been nasty. These pre-arranged things never work out smoothly. That thing must have had the hots for me, cause next morning, there it was on my tent door again :tongue: .
On reflection, I guess I'd rather have a leaf insect than an orb web spider.
Tired, a quick supper and off for a good night's sleep. Kruger Park is about the only place where I ever go to sleep before 21:00 at night.


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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in a sombre mood in March
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:30 pm 
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Thank you Sharifa (is the trip still happening to Addo :pray: ) and Ossendryver.

Day 2-23 March
Onto the next morning, full of expectation. The plan is to do the Capricorn Loop, with breakfast at Tihongonyeni dam. Now I'm not one of those people who want to be first at the gate preferring to sip a cup of coffee (i'm a decaffineited coffee addict) with a few rusks before I move. Up early enough, shower, second cup, car packed and I am off at around 06:00, heading north to Mopani and joining the Capricorn loop from above Mopani. A beautiful day it is too, and it was all set to be a sizzler.
Sunrise is always beautiful in Kruger.

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Noticed that shiny bit to the right of the pic? I think I saw a UFO that morning. Have no idea what it is, probably a cloud. This close up should dissuade UFO hunters from converging on the Park
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Another big Tusker was seen and some Zebra
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This bird needed a vantage point.
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A trumpeter Hornbill was playing its usual "catch-me-if-you-can" game. I was lucky with this one.
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And then it happened. The most terrible thing I have seen to date. Saw a snake, a young one, Mozambique Spitter, and I duly slowed down to get a pic or two. This was the second snake sighting, the first was so fast I did'nt even had atime to ID it, let alone photograph it. So I was real glad to see this one. As I approached, it began to spread its hood, and was about to rear its head in defense. In my rear view mirror I saw the car coming, quite fast too, and expecting that it would at least slow down, I did'nt do anything, just getting the camera ready. As soon as I realised they would not stop, I waved my hand out of the car, pointing to the snake on the road. Well, you guessed it, they stopped, but only after the Range Rover had already driven over the poor things tail. Writhing, well more like doing a unbelievable dance, the poor thing. The driver then reversed to come and ask me what I was pointing at-crunch, one snake less in the Park. All that remained of the poor thing is its empty skin. Such a beautiful specimen too.
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So I never got my pic of a cobra rearing its head, spreading a hood. The driver merely said "sorry"and off they sped. Now I don't know about anybody else here, but its my policy that when I approach a vehicle that has stopped or is driving very slowly, to slow down, have a look to see what they are looking at (call it piracy if you want) but not these folk. I am sure we can all testify to how many chameleons have been saved by such considerate behaviour.

Ah well, what to do. Get angry? In the end I merely got philosophical about it, and reminded myself that Kruger is a place where life and death live side by side and is to be exptected. But, says reason, not death in this way. :sniper: :sniper: :sniper: Tha was quite the saddest thing I have ever seen, and as I always appreciate seeing snakes in the Park, this made for a rather sombre moment.

Did get to see a Red billled Woodhoepoo, a bit far, and into the light, so could not the best pic.
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A quick spit stop at Mopani, where I came across this fellow crawling along
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And then it happened, a big Toyota 4x4 this time, BUT it slowed down, stopped to look at the worm, and then promptly got their little toddler to have a look, all with explanations etc of what it was. I was so glad. Made all the difference in the world after that snake kill. There is hope for Kruger yet, with parents like this. :thumbs_up: So that worm got spared. Anybody know what caterpillar that is?

Also saw this guy catching some sunlight at Mopani
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After Mopani, a few Dagga boys were about.
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Last edited by noel on Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in a sombre mood in March
Unread postPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:03 pm 
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Thanks Pumbaa :thumbs_up:

Onto Tropic of Capricorn.
This Lesser Grey Shrike was there to welcome me, with its somewhat cold eye.
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As was this LBR
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One simply has to build up resistance to "wanting to take more pics of these beauties.

This fellow also welcomed me
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And then promptly left
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This road teemed with this bird, which I think is a red footed Kestrel.
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Tihongonyeni itself was desolate, with a few wildebeest and Zebra about.
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They simply watched me as I munched away on open cheese and ham sandwiches.
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Somewhere along the way this beauty spoiled me by posing.
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Good night
Noel


Last edited by noel on Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in a sombre mood in March
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:08 pm 
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Thank you Daffy, Hilda, MM and Rookie. Lets see if we can post another installment before the busy weekend arrives.
The following I hope will make your weekend more pleasurable. I mentioned earlier about having to curb your own desire to take hundreds of pics of something that you really appreciate, and I SO appreciate the beauty of the Bee Eaters, the Carmine and the European. So I let go of the curbing discipline when this photo opportunity arrived.
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Towards the end of the Tropic of Capricorn loop, I joined the Mooiplaas road to see what was there. Two big tuskers were there to impress me, and impressed I certainly was, especially the single Tusk fellow.

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On the dam wall, a plethora of Cattle egrets.
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A bateleur was scanning the ground for some potential food.
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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in a sombre mood in March
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:59 pm 
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Thank you all for your comments, John n Poppy, Sharifa (look forward to that TR) Hilda, SOn godin, Charinda, Heksie, Pumbaa and MM. My apologies that I could not carry on over the weekend-its usually my busy time. Moving along then towards Sable Dam.

This will be familiar to those who have travelled this road
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Some elles in one of the Riverbeds
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This fellow was out to impress me-He surely knows how much I like them.
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Sable Dam itself was for once very quiet
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With only a parent Maribou Stork and its almost fully grown chick at the dam-
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They decided to play a game of who-can-stand-on-one-leg.
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On the far distant shore a lone Buffalo
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And this beautiful Dragon fly that look like a helicopter when it s flying. I have been wanting to take shots of this dragonfly for a while now, but they are skittish, and any frontal approach means they fly off. So I settled for a rear view, just to capture the black marks of its wings.
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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in a sombre mood in March
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:19 pm 
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Thank you Sharifa, Hilda and Heksie. Let's see if I can get the day finished, before the EUFA Champions league semi-final starts.
Off to Masorini, where I had decided to have my brunch, and which I shared with the fellow that sits there all day. Can't for the life of me remember his name, but he was most grateful to share my brunch, especially the very cold fruit juice. Not much happening there, but this Mocking Chat was there, going right into the drain outside the toilets. There must have been something there, maybe just the water, but it did it frequently.
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Did get to see another of my favourite birds the Dark Chanting Goshawk, but it was far away, and not really suitable for a photo. Binocs were better.
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On the way back to Letaba, this Bokkie was very shy too.
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Time allowed for a visit to bridge over the Letaba River, where you can get out of your vehicle, and I wanted to see if there would be some birds, like there was on my last trip to Letaba. There was very little this time, a Saddle Billed stork was there.
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An Egyptian Goose too.
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Sandpiper
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The ever present crocodile was there too
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And he decided to explore what was available for dinner
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Giving me photos like this
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There was a ied kingfisher, but it was almost right under the bridge, so could only manage a funny angle shot like this
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Making my way back to camp- just love the images of this Waterbuck on the banks of the Letaba.

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This fish Eagle came towards me, but I saw it late, grabbing the Camera and trying to get it in focus and pan as well.
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A sleeping Goliath Heron
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Its alert partner
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Getting to camp, no sooner had I started getting dinner ready, then the lions started their roaring, and sounded very much like they were inside the camp, or at least very to the fence. If they only knew how mad I was at the them, there I go looking for them all the way to Phalaborwa, and in the meantime they're hiding just outside the camp. I promised I would teach them a lesson next time we met. :D

SOme of my insect visitors coming up


Last edited by noel on Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:56 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Kruger in a sombre mood in March
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:01 pm 
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Thanks Heksie- creepies coming up. And thanks Son godin, No did not go up to the gate, as I headed straight for Sable Dam. Why are you only telling me now :hmz: :whistle: :wall: hahaha.
SOme creepies from the first night, who did not learn the lesson from the Leaf insect. They hung around.
This was a real beauty.
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As was this one.
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These ones gave me the creeps :D
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And on the second night, the rather large Dragon flies were always present, fearless, and sometimes looking at you with a stare that says "just who do you think you are?
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This was is too cute
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This is one of the more fabulous insects I have seen. Have a look at the patterns. Excellent camouflage there.
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That brought to a close my day. I was happy, though I had seen no big cats. Just the variety alone makes it worth your while to be there. Birds are a delight. And the insects gave me opportunity to for macro photography, my favourite medium.
Good night.


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