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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Wed May 08, 2013 7:57 pm 
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Location: Pretoria North
Day 4, 11 March 2013, Part 3

Once on the low maintenance road we did not drive far before we heard the special calls of the Red-crested Korhaan. They were everywhere in the dense Mopani and tall grass, we could not see all of them, but we heard all of them! So the hunt was on to spot one. We had a few glimpses and some would disappear as soon as we stop. Finally I could take a photo of one of these beautiful birds frozen like a statue right next to the road.

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The Red-crested Korhaan are near-endemic and not threatened, but loss of habitat have decreased numbers. They are usually found alone and prefer living in dry but fairly dense woodland. They are easily overlooked when they are not calling and when the males are looking for a mate they have a beautiful mating display. Nesting is a shallow scrape on the ground usually under a shrub among some leaf-litter. Red-crested Korhaan's mainly eat insects, centipedes and spiders, but will also eat fruits, berries and tree gum.

The condition of these low maintenance roads are for the most part very good and the only places where the road could be considered bad was where water washed across the road and created ditches and at the little streams.

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Only now and then the Mopanies open up a little bit, but most of the way featured the beautiful dense Mopani curtain.

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We did spot some Impala peeping through the dense Mopani bush.

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At the first T-junction we turned north towards the Letaba River, just South of Shimuwi Bushveld Camp where the roads ends and provided a beautiful open view of the river. We saw some old spoor in the sand and a lonely Waterbuck in the riverbed. All along the banks we could see the debris from the January floods.

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We turned around and followed the trial south again. Little doves were sitting in the road and took off as we approach and we decided to drive supper slow to see if can ID these little doves. Then this little one sat still for us and I could take a snap and grabbed the I-pad with excitement since I knew this is a “new” birdie! It’s little Namaqua Doves that sat in the road trying to get warm in the overcast morning.

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The Namaqua Dove is widespread and a common resident to Southern Africa and often found in pairs. They prefer semi-arid and Savanna and feed on grass seeds and weeds. The Namaqua Dove is a small dove and prey for smaller raptors.

Further down the road we spotted another lifer for us: a pair of Double-banded Sand grouses!

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The Double-banded Sandgrouse are not threatened but range from scares to locally common. Their range have expanded through the years due to artificial water holes. They are found in Savanna woodland with a preference to Mopani and feed on seeds.

A Leopard Tortoise crossed the road.

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Going through a small river on the other side we saw our first Kudu for the trip and it was two beautiful big bulls that clearly played in the mud a bit. As soon as we stopped they started disappearing among the thick Mopanies, but I did manage taking a few pics.

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A few Impala stood in a small clearing. This Impala Ram had Golden Orb Spider web between his horns and gathered his own insects. Needless to say that everywhere we looked was Golden Orb Spider webs with huge spiders sitting waiting for breakfast.

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Coming around a corner an Ellie was standing in the road (not the MAD Ellie story yet :tongue: ), got a fright and took off into the Mopanies. Only now looking at the photos we spotted more Ellies in the Mopani bush.

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We heard another Red-crested Korhaan nearby and stopped and he stood still for a second and I could take another picture of these beautiful birds.

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Then another Leopard Tortoise crossed the road.

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Around 12 o’clock we were at the end of little off-road adventure and at Phalaborwa gate, shopped for a battery invertor to charge the camera’s batteries and other electronics needed to document our First Time at Tsendze!

Back at the Phalaborwa gate an hour later the security personal saw our Rhino stickers again and asked for some more stickers to give to friends and to send home! Exactly what we intended with the stickers in the first place: to raise awareness!

Next up, the MAD Ellie story at Sable Dam…… Day 4, to continue....

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


Last edited by Super Mongoose on Thu May 09, 2013 8:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Wed May 15, 2013 8:25 pm 
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Posts: 1958
Location: Pretoria North
Day 4, 11 March 2013, Part 3

After our quick shopping trip to Phalaborwa we were back in the park and ready for more adventure. Our plan was to visit Sable Dam and the bird hide, then on to theMasorini Picnic Spot for lunch.

The MAD Ellie Story

From the H9 we turned South on the S51 dirt road. It was quite all the way to Sable Dam and we turned off on to the short Cul-de-Sac to where the Mashangani River flows into the dam. Following the narrow Mopani corridor we could not drive all the way since the dam was so full and the water level was so high, the road ended in a dead end about 150m from the S51. The Mopanies were standing in the water and it was a strange sight looking at the water’s edge a couple of meter in front of us where the road should be.

It was quite and then I spotted a Water Thick-knee couple with a chick on my side right next to the Hilux and started taking photos. With the window open and the engine turned off, we heard water splashing a couple of meters away where the Mopanies were standing in the water. My first thought was it’s a Hippo, it was overcast and Hippos do sometimes leave the water during the day when it’s not too hot.

Then it was quite again and I snapped the Thick-knees again, but all of a sudden the Thick-knees disappeared under a bush. All of a sudden we heard Mopanies breaking and decided it would be wise to get out of the Hippo’s way. There were a small clearing on the water’s edge on Skillie’s side and he slowly reversed into the small gap in the Mopanies with Hilux’s back wheels on the water’s edge. Next we heard an Ellie trumpeting, Mopanies breaking, right in front of us and a huge Ellie burst though the Mopanies into the road right there where the Thick-knees disappeared a couple of meters in front of the Hilux still standing on the water’s edge. The Ellie did not expect to see a white bakkie in the bush and got a fright and stopped stepping a few steps back. We were trapped, water left, right and behind us and a mad Ellie in front of us. There we were staring at the Ellie and the Ellie staring at us! I was frozen with fear with this Ellie a couple of meters in front of us and did not even breath, never mind taking photos! I thought today this Ellie is pushing us into the Sable Dam and we will be swimming with the Crocs. I just closed my eyes thinking this is the end of us.

Luckily Skillie did not panic or overthink the situation and hastily pulled away with speed past the Ellie, so close he could touch the Ellie. The Ellie did not flinch, trumpeted and chased us with ears flapping. We made some ground on the Ellie and turned right on the S51. We heard trumpeting but could not see the Ellie while picking up speed to around 40 kmh. All of a sudden about 100m from where we turned on to the S51, the Ellie burst through the Mopanies right next to the Hilux missing us by centimeters! The MAD Ellie took a short cut and made a high way straight through the Mopanies. The Ellie end up chasing us for another 300 or 400 meters down the road, but we were getting away this time and did not stop to look back, we just kept going!

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The Water Thick-knee couple and the fluffy chick before they disappeared under the bush where the Ellie burst though the Mopanies.

At the Sable Hide we met and couple of elderly ladies who said they were driving behind us and almost followed us into the Cul-de-Sac but decided against it because they were towing a small trailer. Thank goodness they did not follow us! They said the heard the Ellie trumpeting from the hide, but had no idea that we were in a bit of trouble…….

We saw some Hippo, Impala and White-faced Ducks from the Hide, but it was a bit far for good photos. Right in front of the Hide we spotted a Three-banded Plover. Leaving the Hide we spotted what I think is a juvenile Pin-tailed Whydah.

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Mites, please help me with this one......

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The Three-banded Plover in front of the Sable Hide.

On the way back to the H9 we spotted a lonely Baboon seemingly the lookout for the troop, but with the Mopanies so dense we could not see the rest of the Baboons.

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Before we got to the tar road we turned off on the dirt road south of the Masorini Ruins. Here the Mopanies were not so dense and we saw a beautiful big herd of Impala with a few Zebra trailing along.

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Back on to the H9 and before we knew it we were at Masorini Picnic Spot. I was quit windy and cold, but we got a spot out of the wind behind the service hut.

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This little Lizard lost his tail along the way, but was running around catching Ants.

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It was time to head back to Tsendze and since it was getting late we had to take the Mopani-Phalaborwa tar road back although the plan was to drive all the dirt roads East of the H14, but maybe next time…..

Along the way there were a lot more FRIENDLY Ellies.

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We had to travel way faster than what we like at 50km/h and one can really not see much at that speed. At the Letaba Bridge we had to stop and enjoy a troop of Baboons playing on the bridge and the river bank.

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On the bridge we met Rodger also returning from Phalaborwa. He was taking pictures and enjoying the view. We left Roger on the bridge since we had to back at camp at 17h30 and still had a long way to go.

Just on the other side of the bridge were a small herd of Ellies with a tiny baby, all relaxed and friendly.

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Just before the H1-6 T-junction a Spotted Hyaena came strolling down the road and we had to stop again and take pictures while the clock was ticking. Roger caught up with us and he also took a load of pictures.

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We were making good time but luckily Roger was still behind us. Back onto the H1-6 some more FRIENDLY Ellies crossed out path crossing the road in front of us.

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We made the gate by one or two minutes! Back in camp we were welcomed back by “our” Squirrel and we took a walk to the Eagle Owl’s tree and found him there.

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That night around the camp fire we reminisced about our event full day and could only wonder what tomorrow will bring….

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_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


Last edited by Super Mongoose on Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 9:35 pm 
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Location: Pretoria North
Day 5, 12 March 2013

After the long busy and adrenalin filled day we had yesterday, me and Skillie decided to take a slow day and only go for a short drive to the Shipandani Hide and Pioneer Hide and spend the rest of the day in Tsendze relaxing and enjoying everything around us.

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Our Squirrel entertained us all day long looking for seeds. Birds were everywhere and during the day in camp we spotted so many birds: Cardinal Woodpeckers, Woodland Kingfishers, Paradise Flycatchers, a African Cuckoo (lifer), a Black Cuckoo-shrike (lifer), a Red-headed Weaver (lifer), Spotted Ground Thrush, all the resident Hornbills and Starlings, all the resident Sparrows and Doves including Emerald-spotted Doves, Crested Barbets, a Red-headed Barbet, Blue Wax-bills, a Puff-back (lifer), Hoopoes, a Green Wood-hoopoe family, a Southern Black Flycatchers and a few birdies that we could not ID…..

A young Green Wood-Hoepoe peeping out of his nesting hole in an old tree.

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Mother Green Wood-Hoepoe keeping an eye on the young one.

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Johan van Rensburg ID this one for me, a Black Cuckoo-shrike. Thanx Johan, it's a lifer for us!

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The Cardinal Woodpeckers were very busy all day long looking for grub in the bark of the trees.

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The Southern Black Flycatchers were everywhere and this one hanging up side down looking for bugs.

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This Southern Black Flycatcher found a spider's nest and quickly ate all of them while chasing a Blue Waxbill away.

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The pretty Paradise Flycatchers were everywhere too enchanting us with their beautiful colours.

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This Puff-back was another lifer for us!

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There were a couple of Red-headed Weavers and another lifer!

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Around 11 o’clock we drove to the Bird Hides on the S142 at the Pioneer Dam and the at the low water bridge near the Shipandani Hide we were treated again with a Green-backed Heron, a couple of Blacksmith Lapwings, Black Crakes and Water thick-knees.

The Blacksmith Lapwings dressed in their tuxedos looking for water insects.

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The Green-backed Heron is one of my favourite birds, they are so focused on their hunt that nothing distracts them.

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No shortage of huge Crocs at the causeway.

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From the Shipandani Hide we had front row seats to the Hippo-concert.

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Day 5, to continue with some nice Monitor Lizards.....

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Wed May 29, 2013 10:06 pm 
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Location: Pretoria North
Day 5, Part 2


After spending some time with the Hippos we drove to the Pioneer Hide. The water level of the Pioneer Dam was right up to the Hide with not much space between the Hide and the water. We sat a while without seeing much, but then a young Water Monitor Lizard climbed on to the rock right in front of us. We were thrilled watching the Monitor until a huge Croc came swinging towards the Hide and send the Monitor looking for cover.

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The Monitor lazing in the sun,

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then the big Croc arrived

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the Monitor spotted the Croc and ducted for cover!

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Water Monitors love basking in the sun like the one in front of the hide did. Juvenile Monitors are vividly marked, although the body coloration of adult Water Monitors may become duller with age, their markings are usually more vivid than those of Rock Monitors. Water Monitors are capable diggers and will raid nests, such as terrapin nests. Water Monitors are generalist carnivores and will eat a wide variety of prey. Unfortunately the Water Monitor and Rock Monitor’s skin and fat are used in the muti trade and populations in unprotected areas have rapidly declined over the past decades.

Then it was time to head back to camp and back at the low water bridge it was full of action again! A huge Water Monitor Lizard, the Green-backed heron, Blacksmith Lapwings, Black Crakes and more huge Crocs!

Arriving back at the low water bridge we were stopped by this huge Water Monitor!

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The Blacksmith Lapwings were still there looking for water insects that wash over the causeway.

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The Green-Backed Heron was joined by a Black Crake and then another Green-Backed chased them away.

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And just at the edge of the causeway this huge Croc was waiting for something to come to near to the edge....

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After spending almost another hour at the causeway we left to go back to Tsendze and spotted a few Dagga Boys in a Mopani clearing.

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Just before we turned off to Tsendze we stopped at Mooiplaas Picnic spot and were just in time to see an Ellie crossing the river in the distance (strange, our only Ellie for the day..). In the middle of the river on a sand bank were a Water Thick-knee couple and a small Croc.

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Back at Tsendze we laid back in our chairs thinking: "another tuff day in Africa"!

End of day 5 (next we do the Songololo Loop)

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


Last edited by Super Mongoose on Thu May 30, 2013 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: First time at Tsendze - Part 2!
Unread postPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 3:03 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:46 am
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Location: Pretoria North
:hello: Mites!

It took me a while to get back into the rhythm of writing and editing photos for my trip report, but I'm ready and here is the beginning of PART 2!

Day 6. March 13, 2013

Last night was a busy night other side the fence….. A pride of lions walked along the river bed and made them self’s heard. They roared from around 12 o’clock until 3 o’clock the morning. I tried looking form them, but the Mopanies were just too thick. After going back to bed they came closer and I could hear them breathing and the grass rustling! Then I was just too afraid to back outside! Skillie woke up once or twice and said it was not him making all the noise. The next morning I spoke to Roger and he said he did not hear a thing! Some of the other campers were up early too with the plan to go and look for the lions after lying awake all night like I did….

Hanging around the tent was the resident Yellow Hornbill just checking if we've dropped something.

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Before heading for the gate we quickly walked to the other side of the camp to the Owl tree, but no-one was home, only a few Waterbuck were enjoying some early morning grass.

We drove to Mooiplaas Picnic Spot, which is just on the other side of the fence by- the-way, thinking the lions might have left footprints, but nothing. We drove all the little river loops, scouting the river banks and Mopanies for any Lions, but nothing. We met a few faces from camp and exchanged info, but too they have seen nothing….

Eventually we gave up looking for the midnight Lions and drove to our favorite place, the coarse way at Shipandi Hide.

The resident Crocs were on duty eyeing the birds.

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A family of Arrow-marked Babblers was in a dead tree on the river bank arguing about something before breakfast.

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The Little Black-Crakes were looking for some water grub.

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The Goliath Heron was nowhere to be found and we turned around and went back to the H1-6 driving north towards the Tropic of Capricorn.

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While sitting there looking at the golden rock we spotted a heard of Ellies right next to us between the curtain of dense Mopanies with a few young ones and decided not to wait too long for Mama Ellie to appear from the nowhere and surprise us.

Terrible Ellie pics, but just to show how dense the Mopanies were.

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We decided to go to our next favorite place, the Tihongonyeni waterhole on the S144 and met this beautiful Long Neck Bull just as we turned onto the gravel road. Speaking to some of the other campers at Tsendze, they mentioned that they have hardly seen Giraffes in the Mopani area.

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Just before the S143 we were stopped in our tracks by these to Giants! We had to back track for quite a bit and could reverse into the short loop at the N’wambu waterhole and the Giants just strolled passed us without even looking our way.

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All these pics I had to take through the windscreen going in the opposite direction. After our Mad Sable Ellie episode we did not want to take any chances....

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They walked in the down the middle op the road like kings, everyone getting out of their way!

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Next we stopped at Tihongonyeni Waterhole....

Day 6, to continue...

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2013 2:16 pm 
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Day 6, 13 March 2013, continue

Next we stopped at Tihongonyeni Waterhole and were greeted again by a “Masai Mara” filled with Africa’s animal beauty.

Today the Eland were a lot closer and we could admire how big they are.

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Eland are nomadic, roam the bushveld and do not defend a territory. During the breeding season Eland cows, young and bulls come together, but spilt up after the breeding season where the calf’s will stay in a calf-herd, bulls in a bull-heard and cows in their own herd, until the next breeding season. Eland bulls become blue-grey in color the older they get and develop a huge sack of skin hanging from their necks. Eland groom each other’s hides in the hard to reach places like the face, neck and rump. Eland are adapted to manage without a lot of water and don’t have to drink everyday, but will drink enough if water is available. They get water from the plants they eat, in summer they will eat moisture filled grass and during the winter they will eat leaves. Their urine is very concentrated and droppings very dry. Eland also breath slow and deep to preserve the moisture in their respiratory system. Clever animals and that’s why we find them from the Kalahari to the Mopanies.

Mixed herds were everywhere....

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even a Black-backed Jackal joined the Blue-wild Beasts, peaceful waiting for something.

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All the ducks in a row….

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and Zebra everywhere, but some disturbed the peace.

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A Martial Eagle was harassed by Blacksmith Lapwings until he decided to take off.

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After spending hours at the waterhole we decided to drive north and see what the Shongololo Loop looked like.

Day 6, to continue

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


Last edited by Super Mongoose on Sun Aug 11, 2013 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:29 pm 
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Location: Pretoria North
Day 6, March 13, continue

After spending hours at the waterhole we decided to drive north and see what the Shongololo Loop looked like.
Back on the H1-6 we had saw some interesting nests without their owners.

Weaver nests where hanging on the opposite riverbank.

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We spotted this Hamerkop nest while taking one of the little river view loops.

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Not sure whose nests these belong to, but it’s in the biggest tree around.

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The first impressive sight on the Shongololo Loop was the Water Lilies. Every pond and pan was covered with the most beautiful Water Lilies. We've never seen anything like it.

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Among the Lilies on the Uitspan Pan were a White-faced Duck family, the chicks so small and hardly visible between the huge lilies.

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The grass was tall and the Mopanies so dense, we did not see anything, but still an awesome drive. It felt like we were all alone far from civilization. No other vehicles and very quiet.

At the Ntomeni Waterhole where the Loop turns south west back to Mopani, we were delighted to see an Ellie gracing on the Water Lilies. We parked and snacked away on our cooler box lunch.

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After about 20 minutes another Ellie appeared from the Mopanies not to far from where we were parked, but we had the pond between us.

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Not long after another Ellie appeared from behind a tree.

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A family of ducks took off not wanting to be near the two Ellies.

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The first Ellie decided to join the other two and we were treated with some peaceful Ellies enjoying the Lily pond.

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After taking a million pics of the three Ellies and a couple of hours later we headed onward on the Songololo Loop.

Day 6, to continue...

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Sat Aug 17, 2013 2:33 pm 
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Location: Pretoria North
Day 6, 13 March, continue

Back following the Shongololo Loop and with no other sightings we were eager to take the low maintenance road to Malunzane Pan crossing the Tsendze river and a welcome clearing appeared between the Mopanies.

A few Zebra were enjoying the grass in the clearing.

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Not far from the Zebra we spotted two Secretary Birds! I had to be quick, because these guys don’t wait for the camera to click… Luckily I got a picture of one of them.

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Secretary Birds are usually found in pairs or in groups up to 4 or 5 birds, but sometimes solitary too. They prefer open grasslands with trees here and there and that's why we found them here next to the clearing in the Mopanies. They eat a wide variety of prey from insects, reptiles to other birds and their young to small mammals and rodents. Mostly their prey, including snakes are caught on the ground and killed with their feet. Their nests are a platform of sticks usually on top of a flat thorn tree. Secretary Birds are listed as near-threatend due to habitat loss and accidental poisoning.

No other sightings along the rest of the Shongololo Loop, but just before we reached the edge of the Pioneer Dam there were a few welcoming faces: Impies! If you don’t see these guys all day long, you miss them. Our first and only Impala for the day were not shy and posed for a kiekie.

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Not far from the Impies were a few Waterbuck, also not shy and smiled for the camera.

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At the Pioneer Hide the Water Monitor was not home, but a very shy Leopard Tortoise in the parking area came to great Skillie.

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At the Shipandi Hide the Goliath Heron was back waiting for a fishy to wash over the causeway.

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It was a long drive around the Shongololo Loop, but the three Ellie bulls enjoying the Water Lilies and the Secretary Birds made it all worth the while.

That night the noisy lions kept us awake again, but they were not as near as the night before. Then followed by hyenas calling.

Day 7 next...

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


Last edited by Super Mongoose on Sun Aug 18, 2013 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:44 pm 
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Day 7, 14 March 2013

I did not sleep much last night, not wanting to miss a thing I listened to the lions roaring all night long. We had no plan, except that we did not want to be out on the road all day again and wanted to spend some time enjoying camp. We decided that the Tropic of Capricorn has delivered so much so far and we are sure to see lots of bird.

Before we knew it we were at Mooiplaas Waterhole and hundreds of birdies were enjoying the morning sun.

Barn Swallows were sitting in the road catching the sun's rays.

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Carmine Bee-eaters were also sitting in the road competing for the same warmth.

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Amur Falcons were everywhere in the sky. A herd of Zebra and a lone Blue Wildebeest were over shadowed by hundreds of Amur Falcons flying and diving.

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After having our coffee and rusks and enjoying all the birds and Blue Wild Beast, we drove on.

Before the Nshawu River we first heard and then spotted this Red-Crested Korhaan between the tall green grass.

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On the other side of the road this Amur Falcon were sitting on a branch.

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In the Nshawu River were an Ellie grazing on all the greens.

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Along the river we spotted Ostrich necks peeping over the tall green grass and Zebra stripes barely visible. Better visible was the Brown Snake eagle sitting in a dead tree.

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At the S50 were the road was closed with a branch it created the perfect perch near the ground for a European Roller.

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We turned onto the S143 and a small heard of Buffalo were gracing between in the previously burnt Mopanies, Aat mentioned they saw the burnt black mopanies during their trip. Nice that nature can recover so quickly.

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Not far from the Buffs we spotted a faraway Ellie bull, he came a bit closer but stopped under a tree and then we noticed his big tusks! A bit far to make a good Tusker ID, but at last we saw a Tusky!

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Day 7, to continue...

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


Last edited by Super Mongoose on Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:41 pm 
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Day 7, 14 March, continue..

We left the big tusky Ellie and drove on to Tihongonyeni. Along the way, as before, the Carmine Bee-eaters were putting their spell on me and Skille had to stop for every one of them…

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Arriving on the plains of Tihongonyeni, aka Massai Mara, all the “usual” residents were going about their stress free day. This must be getting boring for the Mites following this TR, but we loved seeing them every time: White Storks, Zebra, Eland, Blue Wildebeest, Ostrich, Tsetssebe, all the ducks…. Up to now during our visits to this wonder-waterhole, we have only encountered Ellies on their way or coming from the Tihongonyeni waterhole, none at the waterhole and I really hoped that we would see them enjoying the plains of the Massai Mara too before we go home in a few days.

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A new visitor for us was a juvenile Fish Eagle feasting on something under a big bush.

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Also a new visitor for us was a Marabou Stork that tried to blend in with the Ducks.

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After spending a few hours absorbing the wonder of this place and a few sweet snacks for brunch we left, only to find a Giant Ellie with one foot in the road guarding the road at N’wambu Pan. First he was not happy with us approaching and flapped his ears looking very scary, but then he just walked across the road and eat from the nearest bush. He was still very close to the road and we did not feel it was safe to pass. After half an hour with the Ellie still standing there, we almost turned around and were willing to take the long way back to camp. Luckily just then the Ellie moved off into the bush and we could pass safely.

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A bit further down the road another Amur Falcon was sitting in a tree for a good photo or ten.

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At the H1-6 we decided to quickly go and look if the Hamerkop was at home and turned right.

We were lucky to see Impies along the way since around here they are not as plenty full as down South.

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At Eendrag were we spotted the Hamerkop nest yesterday are a few huge trees on the river banks and at first no Hamerkop, but after combing the trees with the binocs Skillie spotted the Hamekop on the other side of the river.

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I like this pic where he shakes like a dog...

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We turned around and it was time to go back to camp.

This Long Neck bull was on duty as the road marshal for the day near the Tropic of Capricorn. He made sure nobody was speeding...

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Day 7, to continue...

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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 26, 2013 4:30 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:46 am
Posts: 1958
Location: Pretoria North
Day 7, 14 March, continue

We have passed the Bowkerskop Waterhole a few times over the last couple of days, but today there were someone at the water, a lone Dagga Boy.

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Just before the Mopani turn-off there were more Impala, a rarity during this trip and the first time we see Impies so close to camp.

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On the Mopanie road were an Ellie cow and calf on the left and at first we thought Mama and Baba were all alone, but soon we heard more Ellies breaking the Mopanies and saw their shimmering backs just above the leaves.

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Behind the Ellie cow and calf a few Dagga Boys occupied a mud hole.

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We stopped quickly at Mopani for ice-creams and other refreshments and decided that we have to stop at the Shipandani causeway to see the Goliath Heron was at home and so happy he was!

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Also a Green Heron were standing watch over the causeway.

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Another Green Heron came to land on the causeway, but the first one chased him to the rocks on the side.

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Back at camp we sat back and enjoyed the Tsendze Bush.

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Our “friends” were there waiting for us, the Yellow Hornbill

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and the cute Tree Squirrel. Later we watched a male chasing her around in the huge Apple Leaf tree making almost bird-like noises. She was not interested at all, but had loads of energy to run away from him for hours.

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For tomorrow we planned to drive to Shingwedzi, though the camp is closed, we wanted to drive along the Nkayini river gallery and hopefully the January floods did not do too much damage. We have not been in that area in the last 20 years and were pretty excited to see what it looks like. That night we packed everything for a whole day out and no camp to stop over at. Mostly what I remember of Shingwedzi is all the mad Ellies around every corner. My mother was so afraid of the Northern Ellies and would stay in camp bird watching all day long.


Day 8, to follow

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


Last edited by Super Mongoose on Sun Dec 01, 2013 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:25 pm 
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Location: Pretoria North
Mites, please copy and paste this message and use it anywhere you like!

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Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 10, 2013 3:01 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:46 am
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Location: Pretoria North
Day 8, 15 March 2013

After another night listening to the Lions all night long, we were up early since we had a long drive ahead of us. The plan was to drive to Shingwedzi and explore the area. The last time we’ve been there was more than 20 years ago. Shingwedzi was still closed to the public after the January floods and we packed breakfast, snacks and enough cool drinks.

After leaving camp leaving camp we drove the short Tsendze loops North of Mooiplaas Picnic Spot. We heard the Lions in that direction last night. All we found was beautiful fresh flower prints (Hippo spoor).

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Next we had to stop at the Shipandani Hide causeway to see if the Goliath Heron was still there. This was the last time we saw him and we were rewarded with some nice photos.

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The Goliath Heron lives in the shallow margins of large water bodies like the lower end of the Pioneer Dam where we found this Goliath Heron a couple of times. They are generally widespread but uncommon residents across Southern Africa. Outside of protected areas they are in competition with severe overfishing. The Goliath Heron is not threatened, but regional populations are quite small. They catch fairly large fish, frogs and small mammals. Goliath Herons breed monogamous and are normally solitary, but sometimes they breed in loose colonies. They build a large stick nest in a tree over water or in reed beds or on the ground on an island. – Roberts Birds of Southern Africa

We turned around at the Shipandani Hide and headed back on our way North.

Just before the Tropic of Capricorn we were stopped by an Ellie in the road.

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Keeping a safe distance we waited for the Ellie to go on his way, but before we knew it, we were surrounded by a huge breeding herd of Elephants! They were everywhere appearing from the Mopanies, left, right and even behind us.

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We had so many good Ellie encounters and thought nothing of the huge herd of Ellies since they all looked nice and calm just eating away on the Mopanies.

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All of a sudden an Agro Ellie Cow popped out of the Mopanies and without warning charged down on us! Skillie was quick to react again and hastily reversed! I took this one picture through the windscreen…

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The Ellies behind us in the road got a fright and moved to the side of the road. Then Skillie stopped all of a sudden as he lost sight of the some of the Ellies behind us. I was just watching the Agro Ellie charging and luckily she stopped a couple of meters from where we stopped and stood on the edge of the road. Again we were trapped by Ellies! We spend about half-an-hour waiting for the Agro Ellie Cow and her calf we did not see before to cross the road and disappear into the Mopanies. Needless to say that my heart skipped a few beats…

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More Ellies crossed the road.

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Two Ellie bulls were having a go at each other and blocked the road again, but they were in a better mood…

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This young Ellie were very inquisitive and came to have a look what all the fuss was about and also left us a bit nervous, but the grass was to tasty…

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After what seemed forever, we could drive on and turned onto the S144. Not far and we were stopped by these two again – I think the same two from the other day and had to backtrack almost to the tar road before they left the road...

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After what seemed forever again, we could drive on. The plan was to take the Old Main Road Loop – S144 to Shingwedzi in the morning and come back on the H1-6 late this afternoon.

A bit on we found a pair of Warthogs! We were delighted, since here between the Mopanies they seem to be a bit hard to find.

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A few Dagga Boys further along the S144.

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Not far and we were stopped by another Ellie who decided that the road belonged to him.

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It took us hours to drive the 29 km loop and only found a few Zebra where the road turns east again.

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At the end of the loop we turned right onto the H1-6 and did not see anything but sky high Mopanies. We turned on to the S52 river drive and the scenery changed before our eyes to river galleries and green grass. We stopped at Red Rocks for the first time in 20 years and wow, what a feeling to see an old familiar place again.

Day 8, to continue...

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:52 pm 
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Virtual Ranger
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Location: Pretoria North
Day 8, 15 March 2013, continue

We arrived at Red Rocks for the first time in 20 years and enjoyed this old familiar place again.

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We had our breakfast for lunch and enjoyed the scenery. A Klipspringer appeared to the left of us, but he was gone before I could put down my food and take a picture. It was nice to stretch out legs after the long drive.

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A beautiful Woodland Kingfisher sat in the Mopanies and kept us company.

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On the rock below we spotted the usual suspects: a Croc, Egyptian Geese and a Terrapin.

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A Lilac Breasted Roller sat on a dry branch also staring out over Red Rocks.

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Further down the S52 and we crossed the river a few times. At one of the crossings we spotted a Waterbuck between the debris from the January floods. Could not imagine all the water that came down this river.

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Next to the causeway a Green-backed Heron sat on the rocks waiting for a fish to swim by.

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Driving on we spotted a Saddle-billed Stork down in the river.

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Saddle-billed Storks are found along large river systems, lake margins and wetlands. The Saddle-billed Storks are uncommon resident to Southern Africa and listed as ENDANGERED in South Africa. They are sedentary, but nomadic during droughts. Saddle-billed Storks are found singly or in pairs and breed monogamous. They build large platform nests on top of a tree in full sunlight, usually near water. Saddle-billed Storks mainly eat fish also frogs, retiles small mammals, birds, crustaceans and water insects. - Roberts Birds of Southern Africa.

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Day 8, to continue...

_________________
Stop the MADNESS or Imagine RhiNOs!
Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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 Post subject: Re: First time at Tsendze
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 8:51 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:46 am
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Location: Pretoria North
Day 8, 15 March 2013, continue

It was now the hottest time of the day, but along the river banks under the huge trees we saw lots of animals. The best part was: there were no other vehicles on the road since Shingwedzi was still closed for visitors after the January floods.

Waterbuck we have not seen much around Mopani and Tsendze, but here were plenty.

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At another river crossing, another Green-backed Heron and a Croc with the same agenda, waiting for a fish to swim by.

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Impala were around every corner.

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Zebra were around every second corner.

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Everywhere great views of the river.

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Debris from the January floods was still very visible on the river banks.

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Here on the Shingwedzi river drive we got to see our first Vervet Monkeys for the trip. They were very shy, except for this guy.

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Giraffes were also enjoying the area like we did. At one river crossing we spotted a small herd of Long Necks.

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We were amazed by the height of the debris in the trees.

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And a bit on some Giraffes on the riverbank.

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Again the Ellies cam looking for us... to continue...

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Our natural heritage is being stolen from us one by one!
Make your voice heard and please support a Rhino Project!


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