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 Post subject: noel 2180 ... km later August 2012
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:31 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Good afternoon,

Well I guess 2180km is not exactly a lot, considering that some visitors to KNP travel many thousands of km more to come and enjoy some quality time in KNP. And then you have to take of the Km travlled there and back from Johannesburg and you are left with about 1380km. In my opinion, the best way to spend 1380km is in Kruger, done over 6 days from 9-14 of this month. What a wonderful time I had, some stunning sightings, many of which I had hoped I would get sometime in my visits to the Park. Crazy to do so over a long weekend, and I should have known it was going to be a bit of a circus, when I struggled to get accommodation for those 5 nights. Eventually I did, 3 nights in Pretoriouskop, 1 in Skukuza and 1 in Berg en Dal. I paid the price for going over this long weekend, and the traffic was more horrendous than the N1 between Johannesburg and Pretoria, traffic jams included. Speeding and general disregard for the rules were all too apparent. As was litter. But as I said elsewhere, I refuse to allow other people's inconsiderate behaviour to spoil my time there, and I made a consious decision I would enjoy every moment, every sighting and the all-round atmosphere that only Kruger can give. Plus there is the added benefit of de-stressing from the hectic life of Johannesburg.
Reflecting on the "requirements" for posting Trip reports i.e. was it breathtaking? And I can say Yebo yes, a most enjoyable time.

2180 can also refer to the numbe of photos I took, in which case this is going to be a long TR, and I am still editing most of the photos. But I promise :whistle: I will probably not post most of them, well not all of them in one go! :D

I'll start with this image, of a piece of art given to me by a good friend, a few days before I was to depart and I am sure there are others like me, who will consider this a really good omen for an upcoming trip to Kruger. Made of the cut off branch of a Palm tree, this 80+ year old gentleman carved out this beautiful piece of art, and gave it to me free. Needless to say I was very happy to receive it, and it now proudly hangs in my lounge. He also told me that I can (in one way or another) mount a small candle behind it, and those eyes will glow. I'll try that sometime. Risky, as that Palm branch can catch alight so very quickly.
Here's my good omen!
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An incident free trip to Mmpumalanga, passing some important pointers along the way, you know those pointers that you mark out to get the adrenaline flowing and the excitment higher and higher. Milly's is one of them and so is this, though I have somewhat mixed emotions with this one. It excites me that I am very close to Nelspruit, but it stinks- like rotten cabbage that has been heated- The Paper Mill en route to Nelspruit. I stopped specially to take these :wall:
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A misty scene greeted me as I travelled
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Off to Pick n Pay to buy some essentials (golden liquid included as I knew it was going to get hot in KNP) and before you kow it, I am at Numbi gate, most of the potholes have disappeared on that road between White River and Numbi Gate. Arriving a bit latish -past 09:00 in the morning has it s advantages as it means very little people in the queue :dance: . the on to my ritual, having a cup of Coffee at the gate, with the koeksister from Pick n Pay. Get out the Camera, maps,. binocs etc etc, except on this occasion I am rudely interrupted by teh security guard, who, when I tell him I am going to enjoy a cup of coffee, tells me to please park my car on the other side parking -the other side of the boom . There I can enjoy my cup of coffee in the presence of a small herd of ELEPHANTS. Can you believe that. That Omen? Elephants right at Numbi gate entrance. What a way to enjoy a cup of coffee :dance: ANd the added benefit is that now I did not have to have that internal struggle- a very intense one at that, of which animal I was going to see first :D

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A lovely cutie-pie included
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C U later


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 Post subject: Re: 2180 ... km later
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 2:32 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Hope I covered everyone in my last post. My apologies for not posting earlier, but as some of yo uwill have discovered MTN (mobile network) had some major issues over the last few days, and I could not access the internet.
9 August, was of course Womens Day, a public holiday, so in honour of the women here on the forum and everywhere else, here are some photos just for you-Just to show that I was most appreciative of the fact that because of you, I could enjoy some time in the park :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up:

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Hope you all have a wonderful weekend- Hopefully I can post some more this evening.


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 Post subject: Re: 2180 ... km later
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:01 pm 
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continueing day 1-
The plan was to do the S3-a road I have not done in a while. Good grief-I nearly regretted it-it is in very poor condition and i wondered if my poor litltle car would ever be the same again! Nampak Corrugated could learn a trick or two from this road. But this is Kruger, and all such complaints fade into the horizon very quickly, the car must adapt, and I am here to enjoy it to the full!
Mestel Dam was "busy"
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Some Zebra came nervously for a drink-must say it was lovely to see so many animals come to the dams/rivers to drink-part of the niceties of visiting towards the end of winter.

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A drongo reminded that breakfast should be had soon
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A few meters another one brought home the same message-except I watched this one rob a smaller bird of this worm-giving rise to a decline in my respect for this bird- I usually think of it in terms of bravery-chasing big raptors away-now I discover it is adept at robbing other little birds.
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A car up ahead-cameras pointed and something to see. Driving ever so slowly, so as not to frighten anything away, I then notice the usual-something on my windscreen. Out comes the macro lens.

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And so engrossed I am in this little beauty, that I do not notice that the said car had pulled up aside me, with 3 beautiful young women. They are waiting for me to give attention- turns out to be a forumite- Martie I think?? Mgoddards daughter it was, and she stopped to say hello, seeing my yellow ribbon. My first forumite of the trip :thumbs_up:


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 Post subject: Re: 2180 ... km later
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:27 pm 
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This is what the young ladies were photographing.
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Very shy, this one, and seldom allowed a decent photo, and eventually disappeared as another car joined.
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And if the Rhino had not already made up for the terrible condition of the road, then this certainly
A junevile Dark Chanting Goshawk- I think, please correct me if I'm wrong. What a sighting :dance: :dance:
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 Post subject: Re: 2180 ... km later
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 4:05 pm 
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hilda wrote:
Beautiful Noel!! :clap: :clap: Love the Rhino between all those branches! :clap: :clap:

Let the pro's decide on the Goshawk you saw! :dance:


Thanks Hilda- I hope I am still right! What a beautiful bird. It was quite a big bird, and looking at my Roberts Bird guide, I don't think it can be anything else.

Tobeio- Welcome! And my response "Ok boss!"

Welcome too Rookie2009! I also thought it was a blackie-but I was not THAT blessed! If only.

This beauty was on that road too-
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The Drongo's were determined to be noticed
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Then this Grey Hornbill- So glad to see this bird, they never sit still long enough. This one was out to get some grub-so I was fortunate.
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Below it was its more infamous cousin
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Once i joined the tar road again, lovely to see these beauties.
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Back to work for now!


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 Post subject: Re: 2180 ... km later
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 11:16 am 
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Thank you Hilda, MM, LindaS, Billyf and Barryels. Appreciate your kind comments. Moving along...

A funny looking Giraffe- looks a bot lilke a sea horse from Knysna
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That long tongue
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Along the S# towards Skuks, I have seen this phenomenon-a Cactus growing from a tree trunk? Saw it last year as well, and it has grown-something must be right for it to be growing.
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And one of my favourite birds- but it was hiding amongst the branches-so not the best shots to get. But I was happy to see it, and saw it on another occasion.
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A dwarf mongoos colony was close by too, and I was happy to capture some of them-crossing the road.

Ready
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Steady
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GO
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 Post subject: Re: 2180 ... km later
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:49 pm 
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Dubious food supply?
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A few Dagga boys were also seen before I got to Lake Panic.
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Once I got there, I was greeted by these bold and-ever-so-used-to-human-beings-and-cars.
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A bird flittering to my right as I walk down to the hide-must have a look. :dance: A first for me in KNP.
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Last edited by noel on Mon Aug 27, 2012 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: 2180 ... km later
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:18 pm 
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OK- onto Lake Panic-my all time favourite place in the universe- The first sight is this-gorgeous reflection of a hippo
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My old friend is still in the neighbourhood
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The Hippo decided it was time to move
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The herons were busy repairing their nests in expectation of the breeding season.
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The Jacana's were their usual beautiful self.
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 Post subject: Re: 2180 ... km later
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:11 pm 
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Putting all strange creatures aside, some more from Lake Panic.
The Goliath Herons were in a subdued mood today.
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Black Eyed Bulbul was also there
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The African Darter bird
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Say AAAHHH
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Here is why its alternative name is Snake Bird

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Trying to captures some of the other small birds there is near impossible- they are so furtive! The best I got
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 Post subject: Re: 2180 ... km later
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:47 pm 
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Thanks Hilda :thumbs_up:

Had one of those memorable moments at Lake Panic. So we are all watching this Heron-lightning fast they are.
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The concentration is intense
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Next thing we know it "spears" what we all hope is a fish- Except it is not, rather a (I think) a bulb from the roots of the Water Lily.
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We had a good laugh at that- maybe the birds inexperience-or maybe the buld moved under the water- whatever-
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It now had to get the thing of its beak, and the force of that spearing is very strong, so the bulb was lodged quite firmly, and it struggled to get it off-eventually, about 20 minutes later, it finally managed,and could proceed with catching some real fish. But not without looking quite embarrassed .
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 Post subject: Re: 2180 ... km later
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:29 pm 
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So, time to leave Lake Panic, and just as I leave, another first for me on this trip. I am a bit upset with myself that I did not make the most of this sighting. Saw four of these birds arrive at a tree just as leave Lake Panic, and people arriving started taking some shots. I looked, and thought, those red billed Hornbills have rather big bills. So took a few shots- not concentrating as you can easily get shots of hornbills :wall: :wall: :wall:. Only when I got to do the post processing, I realised that this was no ordinary red billed Hornbill, but rather they were.... Crowned Hornbill. :dance: My apologies that they are not the best of photos-but I am delighted to have seen them. Next time maybe :pray:
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A quick visit to Skukuza, and enjoying the bird life there
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Hoped to catch the male of this species, but when it did arrive, with its beautiful red breast, all the movement of the cars in the parking at Skukuza made it skittish, and it flew away.
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By now my first day was very satisfactory. Birds in abundance.


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 Post subject: Re: 2180 ... km later
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 12:36 pm 
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One more from Skuks-Just love these black eyed Bulbuls-here they are -beautiful birds with beautiful flowers.
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And so onto Pretoriuskop-past Delaport Windmill, looking for the Klipspringers at thejunction of the H3 and H1-1, they are not there today. Maybe tomorrow! Now it's those 3 hotspots for me-Transport Dam, Napi boulders Road and Shitlave Dam. A road block at the junction of the road to Transport Dam. Lion or Leopard? The latter, though I was wondering how long it will take me to even get a sighting. Eventually I get to see an Impala carcass in a tree, and someone asks me "what are we looking at" An impala carcass I reply, so leopard probably around. The guy in front of me shouts- "the leopard is in the tree close to the carcass". Exciting stuff. Quite a bit of chaos. I re-read the rules of the park after my last visit, and one of the things they ask is that you do not park your vehicle across the road, but rather on the side, and allow others to pass or also enjoy the sighting. No way that was happening here. Eventually I get a sighting, and as usual, I will take just a few pics and move on-the congestion was terrible.
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There was an impressive Tusker on the road to the Dam
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All was quiet at Transport Dam, with this Drongo using the rocks as an outpost to scan potential insects.
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 Post subject: Re: 2180 ... km later
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 9:53 am 
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Always worthwhile to have a thorough look around at Sunset dam. Eventually found this fellow, just below the parking space, on the banks. In hunting mode. Always a pleasure to see.
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This Steenbok was a bit shy
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This fellow was not
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Some Zebra catching the last rays of the sun
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 Post subject: Re: 2180 ... km later
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:22 pm 
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Lets finish the first day. Shitlave Dam had the usual suspects
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But it also had something special, but due to the bad light, could not capture it as I would have liked. There is a smaller dam next to the big dam, and here a Fish Eagle came for a late evening drink. :dance:
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The last - setting sun had already disappeared over the horizon.
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Well, now it was time for a much needed shower, even more needed meal, and download the photos to the computer, and its off to bed. I've had a very satisfying 1st day, seen a lot, got 4 of the big 5, and a lot of birds. What would tomorrow hold! A few surprises?


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 Post subject: Re: 2180 ... km later
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 1:05 pm 
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Day 2- 10th August

Ok, so I'm up at 04:45. 15 minutes before the alarm clock. :hmz: Its off to heed the call of nature, grab some boiling water and I'm gonna enjoy a cup of coffe and rusks, standing outside my hut. And most important, listen to the sounds of nature, before I get going with a shower and more coffee. So there I am standing, coffe in one hand, rusks in the other, here and there a few huts you can see some activity. Bring it on- Sounds of nature. Except, after listening for a while, I realize the only sounds I am hearing is the ginding of the molars as they grind those rusks :tongue:. Only one day did I hear Hyena's. Nevermind, I'd rather have the Sounds of Silence any day! That is just part of the Kruger magic. Shower, pack, another coffee, and I'm ready to rumble in the Jungle. Now I am not one of those people who want to be at the gate when it opens in the morning, but I do try to get out of camp as soon as possible after gate opening. 06:05 is when I eventually get out, spirits high, and thankful to be in this place for my 2nd day. And of course hope to see something special.
Sunrise is a must stop occasion.
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Shitlave Dam in the early hours - Already some cars there!
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THe resident Heron was catching the first rays of the sun at Shitalve Dam
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Guinea Fowl having the first drink of the day
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Hippos waiting for the sun to shine in its full glory.
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And another precious Rhino enjoying the early sun
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