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 Post subject: BluTuna Escape from Rat Race Another live TT from BT Nov'12
Unread postPosted: Fri Nov 02, 2012 11:41 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
:hello:

It's time to get out of the Johannesburg rat-race and head off into the Kruger again for our second trip this year. As usual, I'll be trying to report on a daily basis with pictures from the day's game drives.

We originally had this trip booked for early October but we decided to delay it by a month when this little monster arrived in early August.

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Which has grown into this bigger monster!
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She will be staying at doggy boarding school for the two weeks we are away. The rest of the menagerie - two 13+ year old border collies and a moggie - will be staying at home with the housesitter.

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Our Itinerary is pretty similar to our other trips, staying in our usual camps :-

November
3 Skukuza
4 Mopani
5-8 Shingwedzi
9-11 Balule
12-15 Lower Sabie
16 Skukuza

We are in huts for the first two and the last night, the rest is camping. I read that RP may be considering going camping but didn't want me to find out - there goes the neighbourhood, we'll all have to be extra vigilant to stop him from appropriating our food - don't forget to practice with your catapult.

No wish list, we will see what we see. It would be nice to see something we haven't seen before, it's been several years since we saw any new species - excluding birds and even those are pretty rare.

My camera gear comprises of Nikon D5100 and D5000 bodies with the usual 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses plus the almost obligatory Bigma (Sigma 150-500mm). Since my last trip, I've added some extension tubes to my kit which allow me to get in close to the subject matter. I'm hoping to get some "up close and personal" shots of the smaller inhabitants of the park this trip. I've been out in my garden trying them out and here are some of my results :-

A Daddy Long Legs Spider
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An adult and a young Pond Skimmer
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A tiny Jumping Spider with a kill.
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And some Honey Bees on a bottle-brush bush.
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So it's on the road by around 10:00 tomorrow, hoping to get to Malelane by around 15:00.

Next episode (hopefully) live from Skukuza tomorrow.

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Escape from the Rat Race. Another live TT from BT
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:33 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 0. Johannesburg -> Malelane -> Skukuza.

Here we are at Skukuza and, to use one of BC's quaint phrases, "My teeth are hanging out all over the place"! The Park gave us a Right, Royal, Welcome!

After a manic early morning start, getting the packing finished and delivering the monster to doggy boarding school, we finally managed to get on the road at around 10:30.....Phew!

After a good drive with no major hold-ups, we arrived at Malelane Gate at just after 15:30 and spent a few minutes on the bridge getting the cameras out and taking a couple of pictures.

A big Croc
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and a Junior Black-Crowned Night Heron
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When my son used to be with us, we always played a game to guess what animal we would see first - Impalas excluded. We would never have guessed the first animal we saw today.

About 6 Impies later we spied a small traffic jam which dissipated as we approached. I pulled up next to the last remaining car; it had what looked like a yellow stained toilet roll wrapped around the wing mirror and I immediately deducted (as a certain J. Vartie would say) that this was a member of the SanParks Forum. It turned out to be Flying Cheetah and after introducing ourselves, I asked what he'd seen. That's when he used the "L" word!

It was miles away but a spotty one is a spotty one and to see one in the first 10 minutes was a record for us.

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We didn't stay long and after wishing FC a good trip we headed off and soon found some of cute Boons.

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A little later we came upon a Hyaena den with 5 cubs of various sizes and two adults.

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Time was marching on and we had to speed things up if we were going to get to Skukuza before gate closing time - Soooo, we came over a hill and saw a few cars stopped up ahead, and, what's that in the road?????

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Escape from the Rat Race. Another live TT from BT
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:02 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 0, continued.

And, what's that in the road??????

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We followed them along the road for quite a while until it was getting really late and we still had 20kms to go....

But I had to stop for this, a real KNP sendoff for the day.

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Escape from the Rat Race. Another live TT from BT
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:53 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 1. Skukuza -> Mopani.

Up at sparrow's and off to Lake Panic. What a wonderful, serene place, if you ignore the colony of Masked Weavers that are in residence.

Mommy Grey Heron stuffing its chick
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Looks like it's going to burst
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Thickbilled Weaver
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Greater Masked Weaver
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and Lesser Masked Weaver
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After a while, my SO started making noises that she was too cold so we went back to camp and packed up.

On the way we saw this Fork Tailed Drongo in beautiful light
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Back at camp I spotted this mushroom, it was about 30cm across! At first I thought it was a party animal but I then realised it was just a fungi.
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On the long drive up to Mopani we didn't see much worth taking pictures of but we did come across a very large herd of Buffs just north of Satara. We arrived as they started crossing the road and the tail-enders finally crossed 25 minutes later.
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As we neared Mopani we saw this possible tusker in the river bed.
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A short drive up the S50 and across the Capricorn Loop revealed only these Eles
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and this Kori Bustard who was out looking for a date
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And that was it for our first full day. Tomorrow it's off to Shingwedzi for 4 nights.

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Escape from the Rat Race. Another live TT from BT
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:45 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Thanks everybody for the wonderful comments. I wish I had time to answer them but if I did, I wouldn't have time to find anything to report on.

We have really had some special sightings this trip which you will find out about as I post my reports.

RalfK - You need to pre-book a specific camp site at Tzendze and I believe that no 26 is favourite. Try doing a search on this forum to find out what you need to do and who you need to contact.

Kallis - Try some birding, it gives you something to look at when there are no animals around.

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Escape from the Rat Race. Another live TT from BT
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:30 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Birdfing is a great way to enhance your time in the game reserve. You can do as much as you feel like doing, we rarely stop and ID the LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) and quite often we give up with themedium sized brown eagles. Watching birds has often let to much more interesting sightings. Birds hang about in trees - and so do leopards!

This should be the last posting on this page, so it's time to post the next episode.....

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Escape from the Rat Race. Another live TT from BT
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:54 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 2. Mopani -> Shingwedzi.

We decided to stay in camp this morning and see what we could see.

This was the leftover from a gecko's meal during the night.

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And some ants were getting a meal of their own.

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There are lots of butterflies around, here's a Citrus Swallowtail

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Hopping around in the undergrowth were some Waxbills and this Jameson's Firefinch

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with lots of Butler's False Tiger Moths amongst the blossoms.

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Looking more like a dinosaur, this Giant Plated Lizard gave me a warning 'hrrumph' when I got too close.

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On the way to Shingwedzi this Ostrich family were at one of the waterholes.

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After setting up camp, we took a drive down the river road. The Kanniedood Dam is empty!

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But further downstream there are quite a few pools of water.

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This fish looks a bit too big to swallow, but it went down in one

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A little further along we came upon the oldest Buffalo I've ever seen

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Last but not least on the other side of the river bed, a group of Dugga Boys who were in the company of an Eland which ran off before I could get my camera on him.

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Escape from the Rat Race. Another live TT from BT
Unread postPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:37 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Super Mongoose wrote:
Hey BluTuna, awesome pictures!!! Lovely sightings!!

I can see you are enjoying your new equipment, lovely the butterflies, ants and small stuff!

Perfect birdie pics!

Tell us a bit more about your equipment (it will fill the page too)!!


Thanks SM, what a good idea :thumbs_up:

I've been doing photography on and off for many years and even had some pictures published in aviation magazines in the 90s.

My old film kit was getting old and I stopped taking it with me on our trips. After a few trips where we had some really incredible sightings and no camera to record them, I finally succumbed in October 2009 and went digital. I bought a Nikon D5000 with the twin lens kit, 18-55mm and 55-200mm plus a Sigma 150-500mm (Bigma) lens.

About a year ago, I bought a Nikin D5100 body as a primary camera with the Bigma attached and now use the D5000 as a second body with a different lens -usually the 55-200mm attached (which also gives me a spare camera if something nasty happens to the D5100).

I'm still very much a novice as far as wildlife photography is concerned - you only have to look at the nominations for picture of the month to see that.

I recently added some extension tubes to my kit which allows much closer focussing. That's how I get the close-ups of insects etc. Macro photography is quite difficult but can be very rewarding - there are some pretty nice pics (if I say so myself) coming up in a later report.

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Escape from the Rat Race. Another live TT from BT
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 10, 2012 11:14 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 3. Shingwedzi.

This morning we opted for a drive down the redrocks road to Tsange lookout and back. This time we started at the southern end so we could see Redrocks as the sun came up.

This turned out to be an excellent idea as we saw Redrocks glowing in the early sunshine.

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At Tsange the usual lizards weren't coming out to play but I did manage to get this Hawk Moth as it zoomed from flower to flower.

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On the way back we surprised this Warthog who started to run away.....

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but then changed his mind and decided to show us his dressage skills.

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Our afternoon drive down the river loops turned up one of the biggest elephants I've ever seen and he was sporting some good sized ivory. EDIT : From the Tuskers web site, this elephant looks like Shisha.

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On one of the loops I was watching this very young Vervet Monkey playing

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When I looked at the next Vervet Monkey about a metre away and realised that something wonderful had just happened, she had just given birth!

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She was licking the baby all over to remove the mucus

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and she kept licking her hands that were bloody

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Here she is holding the umbilicus which is still attached to the placenta which hasn't been expelled yet.

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And finally we had another beautiful sunset.

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


Last edited by BluTuna on Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:44 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Escape from the Rat Race. Another live TT from BT
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:09 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
It was a pity but i just missed the actual birth of the Vervet Monkey, probably by a minute or two - I was watching the wrong monkey! Still a wonderful experience though :dance:

Thanks again everyone for the comments, it's time to get on with this report. I'm now at Lower Sabie and have some bandwidth :dance: I'm also about a week behing with this TT :cry: :redface:

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Escape from the Rat Race. Another live TT from BT
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:21 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 4. Shingwedzi -> Pafuri -> Shingwedzi.

Today we decided to go to Pafuri, a drive of 90kms each way so we made sure we were up and ready to go with all of the breakfast stuff packed as the gate opened.

My teeth were hanging out again by the time we got there as we had a couple of really good sightings.

We started off with a BBJ sighting

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Buffalo were everywhere, we saw several groups ranging from 20-30 to a hundred or so.

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Then, just before Babalalalalala we got really lucky

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and at Dokweni water hole we got lucky again

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We made a quick stop at Klopperfontein dam which was more of a mud hole

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On the dirt road to the picnic spot there were a few bones from a recent kill that were being picked over by some vultures

Lappet Faced Vulture

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Whitebacked Vulture

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and Hooded Vulture

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At the picnic spot I found some bugs

Not sure what this is, maybe a type of Assassin Bug

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And some sort of Weevil

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On the dustbin I found a Jumping Spider

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On the way back we stopped at Babalalalala again as spied this possible tusker at the water hole.

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EDIT : Now that I've had a chance to get onto Aat's Tuskers web site, I have identified this elephant as Babalala.

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


Last edited by BluTuna on Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Escape from the Rat Race. Another live TT from BT
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 9:19 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Hi Heksie, I think Super Mongoose also asked me that and I haven't gotten around to answering yet.

I use exstension tubes. These fit in between the lens and the camera body and allow much closer focussing than with a normal lens.

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They usually come in a set of three and can be used individually or together in any combination; they turn any lens into a macro lens.

Watch out for the cheap ones (mine cost about R1100), they can cause problems, like being unable to get a lens off them.

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Escape from the Rat Race. Another live TT from BT
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:04 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 5. Shingwedzi.


It rained during the night and was still raining when the alarm woke me at 03:30 so I went back to sleep.

We eventually got up, had coffee and set off down the Mphongolo loop.

First up was a Leopard

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Tortoise taking a drink from a puddle

and after a long drive where we saw mostly Impalas, we found this lazy chap lion around. He didn't even move when we arrived, he just opened his eyes, checked us out and went back to sleep.

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At Babalalalala I found some ants getting their early meal

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and on the way back to camp, at a Hyaena den, a skull from a preditor.

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Back at camp, I found some other small things to photograph with my extension tubes

This Skink is resident in the tree next to our tent.

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This little chap was crawling on my arm and I was about to brush it off when I noticed that all was not as it seemed.

Q. When is an ant not an ant????

A. When it's an ant-mimic. This is actually a cricket!!

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Back on the road for our usual Shingwedzi afternoon drive down the river loops. The first thing we saw was a Side Striped Jackal in the river bed

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Then we had some White-Fronted Bee-Eaters

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and much further down, a lone Lioness on the far side of the river

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As the light was fading, I saw a stange creature clambering about in a tree. It looks like a Vervet Monkey but obviously had some colour mutation.

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What a strange day, not a lot of quantity but the quality was exceptional :)

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Escape from the Rat Race. Another live TT from BT
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 4:32 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 6. Shingwedzi -> Balule.

It's a travel day today so we got up when it got light and packed up the camp. But I did take some pics of some large moths that were attracted to the lights in the toilets.

Mopani moth

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Emperor Moth

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As we packed up, this Greater Blue-Eared Starling was patrolling, looking for tasty morsels.

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Like this Bug.

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As we drove towards Mopani, we spotted another yellow ...um.... wingmirror covered in what looked like a bathing cap. We managed to flag them down and found it was Normana53. After introducing ourselves, we went on our way. Nice to meet you guys.

A little further down the road, we stopped to take some pics of this possible tusker. He was quite relaxed standing right next to the road.

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To Be Continued..........

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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 Post subject: Re: Escape from the Rat Race. Another live TT from BT
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 20, 2012 9:14 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Day 6. Shingwedzi -> Balule. Continued.......

We stopped for breakfast at Mopani and it turned out to be a disaster. We ordered the overpriced breakfast and it came served almost exactly how I didn't ask for it. I threw my toys! After much complaining we were told we didn't have to pay for the meal.

Mopani is not on my list of camps to visit for meals in the future.

After my hissy-fit, we headed off and stopped at Mooiplaas Picnic Spot where the SO spotted this insect which according to our book is a member of the Eurybrachidae family and doesn't have a common name.

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Moving on towards Letaba we spotted another possible tusker

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some copy-cat Ostriches

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and a female Ele with fairly large tusks

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whose herd had a number of tinyphants including this one.

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15-17 November 2013, day visitor at Croc Bridge gate.
18 November 2013, Lower Sabie


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