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 Post subject: BluTuna's Short Long Weekend in the Kruger: March 2013
Unread postPosted: Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:57 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
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Location: Back home in the ratrace.
In the middle of February we were informed that if we didn't use some of our timeshare points we'd lose them. What a great excuse to get away to the Kruger for a long weekend.

We managed to book into one of the resorts in Hazyview for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of March.

In order to make the most of the short time we had, we needed to be on the road at 05:00 on Friday to miss the rush hour traffic. Amazingly, we actually got going at 05:30 despite my SO's best efforts at holding things up (as usual).

It rained and rained, then it cleared, changed its mind and rained some more.

The Schoemanskloof road was picturesque even though it was still spitting. Despite there being some serious roadworks going on which required us to stop for 10 minutes or so on three occasions, this was still a nicer drive than the alternative which goes past the stinky paper mill.

I managed to get some moody pictures while the SO took a turn at the wheel.

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We finally arrived at Malalane Gate at around 11:30.

It was great to be back in the Park, especially as I hadn't anticipated coming back until much later in the year! The bush is very green and overgrown making it difficult to see anything more than a few metres from the road, but I can't remember the last time I saw the park looking so verdant.

At Afsaal, we stopped for a cup of their excellent coffee and in the stream at the south end of the picnic site, I saw some Whirligig Beetles whizzing around in the water.
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And a very tame squirrel who let me take some portraits.
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Most of our sightings we had were hidden by the bush or the light was too dim for a decent photo but along the S1 I noticed that something was crossing the road ahead but I couldn't make out what it was. It turned out to be a brand new - never seen before species for us! New species don't happen very often for us in the Park, after 25 years of regular visits we've seen every 4 legged animal that's bigger than an Aardvark and many of the smaller ones too. This was a moment to be savoured.

And now........

The never seen before (by us).....

Tan-Taraah.


















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: A Short Long Weekend in the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 29, 2013 6:31 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Here it is! The spectacular, wonderous, never seen (by us) before. :dance: :dance: :dance:








Speke's Hinge-Backed Tortoise.
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YAY!




We did have one rather nice sighting at the Nyamundwa Dam which is about 10kms from Phabeni Gate. As we approached the turnoff, a white pickup with a bazooka lens mounted on the driver's door zoomed up from the dam lookout point. Then we saw why he was zooming. This handsome chap trotted right past us.
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It wasn't until I got home and checked the pictures that I noticed the lion had only one functional eye.
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The pickup driver shouted that "there are ten more lions down there" but before I could turn round to follow the one I could see, the lion headed off into the bush. The only other lions anywhere to be seen were on the far side of the dam - 2 of them - so I gather the pickup driver was trying to get rid of us so he could have the lion to himself. Jerk.

We left the park early so we could find our destination and get settled it before it got dark. Which was a good thing because we got invited to a free breakfast the next morning - but we all know that there's no such thing as a free breakfast...er....lunch!

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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: A Short Long Weekend in the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 11:17 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Saturday March 2nd. Morning drive.

Up early and on our way at about 05:00 we caught the beginnings of the sunrise over Hazyview town.
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We took the S3 along the Sabie River and saw very little. There were a few Banded-Legged Golden Orb-Web Spiders and this one was just in the right place for a picture.
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This Tawney-Flanked Prinia seemed to have itches everywhere.
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Cunningly disguised as a pebble, a tiny Terrapin in a roadside donga.

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The bush was really dense and I found myself getting more and more desperate to see something. When I started spotting flowers I knew I was in trouble so I sped up a bit and headed for Lake Panic.

We detoured via the Kruger Gate for a much needed "comfort" break and on the door of the gent's toilet was this strange insect which turned out to be a Blotched Long-Horned Owlfly.
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A Locust on a nearby bush also caught my eye.
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Lake Panic was very quiet, the grey Heron Chicks that were there in November had all moved on and so had most of the weavers. There were a couple of Thickbilled Weavers too far away for pictures and a Guineafowl Butterfly on a lily pad.
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We returned to the resort just before 11:00 and went for our FREE breakfast which was very nice but the payment extracted was that we had to sit through a presentation by a representative of the "Holiday Club". It does sound like a better deal than RCI - the annual levies on our timeshare cost a small fortune! Any good/bad Holiday Club experiences out there?

Our drive in the afternoon started at Phabeni Gate and I took this picture shortly after.
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Exactly what is hidden in this picture will be revealed in the next posting.

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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: A Short Long Weekend in the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:27 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.
Saturday March 2nd. Afternoon Drive.

Time for the big reveal! I'm sure you have all been chewing your nails, wondering what was hidden in the foliage pictured here.
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Here's the answer...
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We waited a while to see if it would emerge from the grass but I think it had a kill in there and was quite content to play peek-a-boo with us.

It was becoming obvious that sightings would be at a premium this trip due to the thick (George W) bush, so we made our way past Skukuza to the low-level bridge over the Sabie where a lone Hippo ....
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was watching the antics of some Boons taking their annual bath.
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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: A Short Long Weekend in the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Fri Apr 05, 2013 8:59 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 11:45 am
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Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Sunday March 3rd. Morning drive.

This morning we decided to go to Nkuhlu for breakfast - more about that later.

We entered the park at Kruger Gate as we had seen very little on the S1/S3 on our previous drives.

After a beautiful sunrise
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the first thing we stumbled across was Hyaena Mom with two cubs, both of whom were enjoying a hearty breakfast.
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Then I managed another first, pictures of a Common Duiker.
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An unusual sight, the Sand River in flood.
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Further along were some Impies who didn't run away when we stopped although they did look a bit nervous. Time for some portraits in nice light.
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Along some parts of the road there were many Golden Orb-Web Spider webs, all of them with resident female and their tiny consorts.
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This was one of the biggest I saw, I would estimate her abdomen to be 3-4 cms long.
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We finally got to Nkuhlu only to find out that the kitchen has been closed for renovations. Pity, I was looking forward to eating some bacon & eggs about then. We turned around and headed for the Wimpy at Hazyview.

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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: A Short Long Weekend in the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2013 11:22 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Posts: 375
Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Sunday March 3rd. Afternoon Drive.

In at Phabeni Gate (the 50km drive to Kruger Gate was getting a bit tiresome) and then turn right at the crossroads onto the S3 south towards Pretoriuskop.

A raptor of some sort had us reaching for the bird books. It turned out to be a Honey Buzzard, a lifer for us!
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Kudus on the loops around Pretoruiskop camp.
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And some spectacular views.
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A Groundscraper Thrush.
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And I almost ran over these peculiar insects which we identified as Gregarious Spotted Cockroaches.
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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: A Short Long Weekend in the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2013 3:45 pm 
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Location: Back home in the ratrace.
JeanniR wrote:
BluTuna, love the kudus!! :clap: :clap:

Seems you have a thing for insects :shock:

:popcorn: :popcorn:


Hi Jeanni! Kudus are such stately animals and seem to be quite common in the Pretoriuskop area.

I used to find that when I only used my camera when I was in the park, it took me a couple of days to become familiar with the camera again. To try to keep practiced, I bought some extension tubes and started to take pictures of flowers in my garden. I then began to notice insects on the flowers and started trying to get pictures of them. Since then, its become a ritual at the weekends to make an early morning and late afternoon patrol around the garden (if the sun is out) to see what creepy-crawlies I can find to photograph.

I've since bought a proper macro lens which has improved the quality of the pictures and I'm building up quite a library of subjects.

If the Mods don't object, here are a some of shots I managed to get over the Easter weekend.

A stick Mantid
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with amazing eyes.
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A Red-veined Dropwing Dragonfly
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which also has amazing eyes.
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A Painted Lady Butterfly
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And a tiny bee (about 5mm long) peeking out of a flower.
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Insects also add another dimension to a Park visit, a bit like birding does.

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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: A Short Long Weekend in the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:55 am 
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Sheenaugh-Lee wrote:
LOL Blu Tuna maybe its easier for you as a man to like cockroaches but us as woman we cant stand the things they are interesting and your sighting is something Ive never seen any form of cockroach doing so it is a very unique sighting you had here, Brilliant btw but grillerig they will always remain by me not just cockroaches but spiders, snakes, bugs, beetles I run for my life Literally LOL :D :D :D


I can't say that being a man makes it easier for me, phobias affect everybody. I remember a night drive where the guide picked up an Egg-Eating Snake to show us, more than half the people on the truck were huddled on the far side of the truck - men included. My SO is frightened to death of moths (especially the big ones) even though they are completely harmless, she will only come and look at them when they aren't flapping. My mother is so phobic about snakes that she can't even watch them on TV.

I used to have a knee-jerk reaction to certain animals - scorpions and wasps in particular but I seem to have overcome this to a certain extent, especially since I started taking pictures of them. I haven't been stung by a wasp yet and I've yet to see a scorpion in our garden (I did get stung by a scorpion at Shingwedzi last year but that was my own stupid fault).

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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: A Short Long Weekend in the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:06 pm 
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Location: Back home in the ratrace.
Monday March 4th. Morning Drive.

And so we come to the end of our Short Long Weekend. Our last drive and we decided to try to get away from the dense bush and head down to Crocodile Bridge for breakfast. This turned out to be a really great decision because the Park had one more big surprise in store for us.

It was overcast at first and when the sun broke through it was reminiscent of the special effects used in Close Encounters.
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Somewhere near Skukuza an Impie lamb was getting her breakfast.
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On the high-level bridge over the Sabie, a lady Giant kingfisher let me get really close.
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Between Nkuhlu and Lower Sabie a usually dry area had become a large pond and a small group of Whistling Ducks were in residence.
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The Lubyelubye Leopard was not in evidence but a Natal Spurfowl was keeping a lookout for him.
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We took quick loo & view stop at Lower Sabie and I saw one of the most horrible things I've ever seen in the Park - Indian Minahs, the first time I've ever seen these immigrants in the Park.

Eventually we were on to the S28 where we saw plenty of game in the distance but the grass was so long that it hid the smaller animals.

What TT is complete without some pictures of Rollers?
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And then we were at Crocodile Bridge where I pulled out my new Tamron 90mm macro lens and went in search of some subject matter.

A tree Agama without the blue head - female or non-breeding male.
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An Orange & Lemon Butterfly that looked to be on its last legs.
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An African Leopard Butterfly.
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A Damselfly.
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And lastly, a juvenile Fork-Tailed Drongo.
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After a very good breakfast we drove out of the gate, across the Crocodile River and set course for Johannesburg.

Somewhere on our morning drive we also managed to spot this.
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Oh, yes, I did say that having breakfast at Crocodile Bridge was a great idea and that the Park saved the best for last.

Along the way we had an extra special sighting. It was only the second one of these that we've ever seen in the Kruger and the other sighting was a loooooong time ago.

Even more grandiose than a Speke's Hinge-Backed Tortoise, it's our second sighting of this incredibly shy and seldom seen animal.


Spot the deliberate omission and see if you can guess what it was :)

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: A Short Long Weekend in the Kruger.
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:43 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Back home in the ratrace.
As I was saying.........

The Park saved the best for last.

The deliberate omission was right in front of you all.


I didn't identify this rhino because........
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When it lifted its head out of the grass.....








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Well done TT, points to you for getting it right.

What a brilliant sighting to end our Short Long Weekend.

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


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