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 Post subject: Peterpiper's KNP Trip: September 2006
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 9:46 am 
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SMS From Peterpiper this Morning:
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YESTERDAY SAW WILDEBEEST, A SECRETARY BIRD, KUDU, GIRAFFE, LIONS WITH CUB NEAR SATARA. OSTRICHES, ELEPHANTS WITH BABIES, CROC ROLLING IN WATER AND BUFFALO


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AND HIPPOS AND TEREPINS PETER PIPER


3 of the Big 5 :D
Lions :mrgreen:


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Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2006 9:16 am 
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Sure Vonnie & Katy will tell him now :wink:

SMS From Peterpiper This Morning:
Quote:
In the last 2 Days we've seen a bateleur up close, lioness, buffalo up close, elephants, a bush baby above our tent, a genet on our table, a saddle bill, a huge kudu, hippos, fire flies & a kori bustard - peter piper


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Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2006 6:24 pm 
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Quote:
5:30 having sundowners at Tchanga lookout point with perfect weather - Perfect day


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Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2006 7:58 pm 
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Northern Kruger with the beasts

Went to Kruger for 6 nights. Didn’t see much.
The end.

Only kidding!!! :)

We really didn’t see very much, but for those of you interested in birds and things, here goes.

Entered the park after a very quiet and uneventful journey at Orpen gate where rangers were manning a small road block and for the first time in my life, I saw them turning away everyone who didn’t have a confirmed booking. The park was 100% full due to a long week end and the school holidays, so we really felt privileged being allowed to go in. After a quick pit stop at Satara, we headed North along the tar road towards Letaba, our camping destination for the next 2 nights. Not far from Satara, we came across another ‘roadblock’ only this was being manned by a (sleeping) pride of lions. When we arrived we counted no less than 32 vehicles, a new record for me so it took a while to get through. Thank goodness the lions weren’t awake and actually doing something.
Spent a very quiet afternoon/evening having drinks looking out over the Letaba river, when I realized I had just achieved another first for me – I had been in the park for most of the day and not even unpacked my camera yet! What is happening?

As we really didn’t see much, I’ll not give an hour by hour report, but rather a few highlights of the things we did see. The first 2 days in the park were spent around the Oliphants River area, providing as always a few good bird sightings.

Klaas’s Cuckoo in the camp at Oliphants.

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Saddlebill (Mrs) At the low water bridge near Balule.

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Water Monitor Lizard coming out for his morning bake in the sun.

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From the wonderful deck at Oliphants we could just make out a lion kill on an island a long way upstream, for which a whole assortment of vultures had gathered and were patiently riding the thermals.
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Through binocs I watched two hyenas pacing anxiously, ever ready to steal their share and preventing the lone lioness from having a drink from the nearby water.. All this while I sipped on a fruit juice and scoffed down a toasted bacon and egg. Yummm! :)

Good to be in Kruger
More soon.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 8:11 am 
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Letaba is a great camp, probably my favourite for camping with lots of tall trees, plenty of shade and of course some good birds and animals that keep popping in to say hello.
Or steal your cheese!
This Red Headed Weaver took a break from his nest building duties to join us for a snack.

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And the wonderful Crested Barbet

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For the kids ( affectionately known as the beasts), the swimming pool which was only completed in March this year was a huge hit and our afternoons were spent either relaxing there or wandering around the camp, trying to learn a few more names of trees from their little green labels that someone once went to a lot of trouble organizing. This is a gentle camp with an unhurried pace, a bit like the ever present Bushbuck that slip silently from one unit to the next.

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Our afternoon drives produced Ellies, Buffalo, the occasional Impala and a few more good birds, like this Wood Sandpiper. Nearby a Blacksmith Plover Chased away a Hooded Vulture that had foolishly thought it could drink anywhere near the plovers chicks.

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Heading back in glorious light the ‘rush hour’ was provided by these galloping guinea fowl on a mission to get back to the safety of their high up roosting place.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 05, 2006 8:35 am 
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Thanks Hoep Hoep and everyone else for your kind comments.

I wasn't given too many easy opportunities for photos on this trip but enjoyed as always the challenge of making pictures wherever I could. Also I was definately in two minds as to wether I should do a trip report from this visit, but it's important to me to show what else is worth looking out for. I encourage my kids to keep a list of the things we see each day as the list just shows that despite hours of driving around and not seeing much, when you look back at the trip there are quite a few good sightings that you can cherish.

Next episode - sleep over at shipandini Hide

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Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 7:42 am 
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Leaving Letaba and heading north, we came across this eagle on a pile of wood on the banks of the Letaba River. Anybody keen to have a go at identifying it? We put it down as a Wahlberg, but still not 100% sure.

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Later this little Tree Squirrel was found enjoying his breakfast. Soon after that, our second sighting of a Rock Monitor.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 06, 2006 7:51 am 
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Booked in at Mopani camp where we were told we could pick up the cutlery, linen and torches for the Shipandini Hide. When you are traveling in Kruger on a camping type holiday with 3 kids and all the gear in the back, there isn’t a whole lot of room left over, so when the staff brought out the large picnic basket and 3 very large bags of linen, I was faced with the choice – do I take the linen and leave one or two of the beasts behind, or should we just use our sleeping bags? :wink: Tough choice! :)
We (all) arrived at the hide about an hour before closing and once the last guests had left we set up camp and then settled down to watch and wait. The hide is fairly close to the water at a point on the far end of Pionier Dam, something which I admit I was unaware of, and I had to wonder why anything would therefore use this water to come and drink, when there are kilometers of waters edge all around the dam. Hippos kept us amused until dark and then the fireflies came out and performed their magical dance over the reeds and water. No moon and a clear and very starry night set the scene for this wonderous show that had my youngest son convinced these were indeed fairies. And plenty of them too. Their small flickering lights reflected perfectly in the calm water as they drifted effortlessly along the waters edge. Later, the hippos made their way up the steep banks to head off for dinner and we retired to the separate boma for a braai. In keeping with our strict ‘no major sightings’ policy, absolutely nothing came down to drink, but we were well entertained by the agility of a Large Spotted Genet, that would not take no for an answer and at one point got onto the table right next to us.

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Later an Elephant decided to push a large tree down not far from where my car was parked, the sounds seemed amplified by the darkness and the fact that we were far from everyone else. I’d have no hesitation in recommending the hide for its quietness and solitude, but I doubt much ever comes to drink here. And it’s probably not the best place for kids (no swimming pool or cell phone reception!) but then there is a great sense of adventure and if nothing else, the fireflies were worth it. Sorry I couldn’t get a pic.

Heading north the next day we came across these Egyptian Geese near Mopani with their goslings and later Zebras doing a little dance. Spring was definitely in the air.

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Next stop Bateleur camp and it really is a gem.
Stay tuned.

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Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 10:45 am 
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Bateleur Camp describes itself as the smallest and friendliest camp in the Kruger Park. And I would certainly agree with that. We arrived in the afternoon and were greeted by the wonderful and efficient Numsile, who although she is not the camp manager, she controls the daily running of the camp and keeps a very well run camp that she is clearly very proud of. I’ve never before had staff ‘pop in’ for a chat while doing the braai, and just checking that everything is OK. They also bring a small paraffin lantern each night to hang on the verandah, giving a wonderful, personalized and old world feel to this, the oldest of Kruger’s’ bushveld camps. There are only 7 units and we stayed in no.6.

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The area has a few ‘private roads’ reserved for people staying at the camp, as well as two substantial dams –Silvervis and my personnel favourite, Rooibosrant Dam. We had just enough time to visit this great dam on our first afternoon and were blessed with wonderful light and some great birds.

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Great(White) Egret – Rooibosrant Dam.
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Black Winged Stilt
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Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 11:02 am 
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The next two mornings saw us back at the dam to do a bit of bird watching and photography, something that this area is very good for, as the dam has a fairly long sand track that follows much of its one shoreline, getting you close to the waters edge. At this time of year anyway, when the dam is full. About three hours were spent there and we didn’t see much game,(only a small group of Impala and Buffalo on the far shore.) However the White Faced Ducks and numerous Jacanas kept us entertained and all while we had the place completely to ourselves. Remember, this is the busiest time with Kruger 100% sold out.

White Faced Ducks and Knob Billed Ducks.
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Spur Winged Goose
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Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2006 5:03 pm 
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Quote:
5:30 having sundowners at Tchanga lookout point with perfect weather - Perfect day
[/quote]

Round about this time of day, isn't this where you'd rather be?

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Tshanga look out point is a perfect place to end the day and staying at Bateleur gives you the chance to enjoy it all with beautiful late afternoon light. For the teenagers :) it even has cell phone reception, even though it's really in the middle of nowhere and there is no signal in the camp.
I have often come here to paint but on this visit was happy to just enjoy a sundowner with the SO and kids.
You've just got to love Africa! :)

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Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 12:28 am 
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One of the best things about staying in the Northern part of Kruger to me is the river drives between Sirheni or Bateleur and Shingwedzi. Once at Shingwedzi, there are some good roads around there, in particular the one down to Kanniedood dam and its Bird hide.

Ellies from the bird hide.

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Green Backed Heron from the low water bridge near Shingwedzi.

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Tall riverine trees like the Nyala tree offer much needed shade and cover for their namesake as well as roosting places for sleepy Giant Eagle Owls, while Vervet monkeys clamber around the branches eating the flowers of the brilliantly coloured Flame Creeper that flowers during September and October.

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Along the river, we found a Ground Hornbill nest that we later reported to the Woodlands ranger, near Bateleur camp, as they are monitoring these sights to help numbers of these birds. He also showed us another nest very close to the camp, and explained how the second egg is removed from the nest to be hatched in captivity as it has very little chance of surviving in the nest. Photo taken by my son.

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Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 5:27 pm 
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We went on a night drive while at Bateleur to test the theory that all the animals had headed south for their annual holidays.
The local woodland ranger, a friendly and very knowledgeable guy named David, took us out for 3 hours leaving at about 5 pm. We soon saw the usual suspects of the north ie Elephants and Buffalo, but he then headed off on a ‘No Entry’ track and while being bounced around a bit on that we had a brief but good look at 2 Honey Badgers trotting off across the veld in search of dinner. Unfortunately, by the time the vehicle had stopped they were already a long way off so no pictures, but as my 12 year old daughter always says –‘memory is the best camera’ At least we all saw them, but it would have been even better if they had stuck around.
We stopped at a small dam for sundowners which were truly amazing in fading light, before continuing our search. Don’t want to labour the point, but it was the quietest night drive I’ve ever been on, only getting us 3 Steenbok, a few Spring Hares and a scrub hare. No owls, genets or other nocturnal specials. In fact not a single Impala, Zebra or any other daytime regulars. Truth is there really wasn’t much about. Shortly before getting back we came across this rather unusual couple.
So much for birds of a feather!!!

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Our last visit to the dam in the morning produced more good birds, some of them common, others not, but all seen close up here when the dam is reasonably full.

Greenshank – like many here, an overseas visitor.

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Kittlitz’s Plover, listed as a rare breeding resident in the park. The only other time I’ve seen these guys was at Nshawu Dam.

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Little Stint – another uncommon summer migrant.

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And so ends another trip report. Time for me to get back to work and stop dreaming of lazy Kruger days and wonderful photo opportunities. Before I go,- I asked the good birds of Rooibosrant to finally take a bow for a parting shot, but they got the direction wrong :)

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Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 5:58 pm 
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I thought we should maybe start a thread for photos that need a caption like this.....

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