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 Post subject: Kgalagadi Predator trip - September 2007
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 8:10 pm 
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As the heading states , lots of lions , although it probably was no more than 5 prides , you get to see them often as they move about from waterhole to waterhole .

I will do this day by day , as there is not enough variety to do an overall pics report like my Kruger trip .

Day 1 -
Slept over just after Vryburg , and got going at about 4am , eager to get to the park around lunch time .
Unfortunately my vehicle that was just returned from service developed a small problem due to the agents lack of replacing the recommended service parts in the previous service , although luckily the Upington guys had me sorted quickly .
Picked up a puncture on the "hell run" just before the park , and this was sorted for me at TR's technical dept .

After all this I only had about an hour and a bit to get out for a drive , so decided I would just do a quick one up to the saamevloing waterhole about 3km from camp , hoping to get hold of the Leopard mom n cub .

No leopards , but plenty of lions around the waterhole !
I was not expecting this at all , so had to "warm up" pretty quickly .

Image

They where lying all over the show , and a young eland came trotting up to the waterhole :shock:
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This Female was just in front of it , behind some grass , and she went into stalk mode .
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Was I going to see a kill within my first Hour in the KTP ?
The Lioness started to run , but the Eland must have caught a smell or sound or something , and dashed away .
At this point , I never realised that the lions had been feasting on the easily caught eland to such an extent that they where all well fed and not desperate for food .

A little while after this , the rest of the pride slowly made its way down to drink .
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I must admit that my expectations for the KTP where not very high , after our one and only previous trip to the Kalahari was a complete wash out as far as predators went , but this must have been due to flooded rivers and heavy rains the evening before we arrived .
After this trip however , I am already thinking of how to get back there ASAP !

After this I headed back to camp for a quick meal and to hit the sack early , feeling completely worn out after the days events .


Last edited by bucky on Sun Sep 23, 2007 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2007 8:39 pm 
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Location: Gauties .
Haha , if the park is going on like when I was there , I wouldn't mind going back for another month .

The above is chicken feed in comparison to the rest of the trip , I think it got progressively better with the last 2 days being absolutely fantastic , with only 1 slow viewing , and 1 bad photography hair day .


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Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 9:06 am 
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Location: Gauties .
Day 2 , and straight to samevlooing to see if the Lions had done anything interesting .

Looking a little red around the whiskers here
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They had pulled down another Eland which was lying out in the open area next to the water hole !

An extra addition to the Pride this morning where the 2 large pride males , that had obviously joined after the initial kill , and taken over to help themselves to the "lions share" of the meat .


This female was giving this young male a stout warning , after he kept on causing grief everywhere he went .
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Unfortunately it did not help , as he snuck in next to 1 of the males at the kill .
The peacefull co existance went on for about 2 minutes before the big male swatted him away from the Eland .
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Look at how the little guy is using his back paws to push himself away , and at the same time having his paw up towards dad in defense .
This shot is seconds after the first 1 .
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The males then proceded to eat pretty much everything on the carcass over the next hour or so .

A little later a group of Eland slowly made there way to the water , completely unaware of the Lions , and 2 of the females hid behind bushes to stalk again , but the Eland got wind of them and took off in a cloud of dust .
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Most of the people in TR went out to the water hole again that afternoon , hoping to get some action .
The lions had lazied up somewhat though, and did not even come to drink , so the afternoons expectations where a bit of a blow out :lol:


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Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 8:02 am 
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Location: Gauties .
I am going to get a little loose on the story line now , and just go pic by pic until the next sighting that warrants a full description .

First up , some birds to water down all the lion pics .
Rock kestrel seem to be fairly common up there , I am sure due to all the calcrete ridges along the rivers . Image

A puff adder or something similar got nailed by a Tawny , more than likely as it was sunning itself after the long winter in this open sandy spot .
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This Pale chanting goshawk was dive bombing a pair of Tawnys sitting up in this nest .
I wonder if they where raiding its nest or something , as it even made contact with them sometimes , pushing there heads right down .
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I never saw any lions on this day , as they seemed to make good appearances on just about every second day at the waterholes .
I suppose they may make a kill in the dunes sometimes , and then move back to water the next day to drink .
They do leave there mess behind them though , don't they read the signs that rubbish needs to be removed from the picnic site !
I managed to get a pic to send to management though , so they can take some action against them , just look at this Eland they left in the middle of Melkvlei picnic spot.
I wonder if anyone stopped for a skottle braai and watched this happening :twisted:
Image

Ill post the rest later , so that I do not spam 1 big reply with a pile of photos so the slow line folks can at least have a chance .


Last edited by bucky on Wed Sep 26, 2007 8:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 8:23 am 
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:wolfwistle:

bucky, do you use photoshop for processing? And please tell about the tawnies and goshawk - is it a composite of two seperate pix? If not, how did you manage to get both the tawnies and goshawk in focus while both are at different distances away from you? I am really keen to figure out what you did to get that shot!

Kgalagadi is SPECIAL, hey!

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Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 8:37 am 
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Nope JVR , that is as is , no fancy moving of birds here lol :D (I do know some people that cheat in this fashion however :evil:) My PS work goes as far as trying to get the best colors and sharpness from my pic . (occasionally I will remove something from the pic also, but never move or add birds from diff pics )

It was not as far away from them as it may seem in this , as it had just dive bombed the tawnys and was heading upwards to turn back and make another pass .
I use a slightly higher aperture for this sort of thing to give me more depth of field , but you have to be careful to balance this so you do not loose to much shutter speed then.

Jaaa I enjoyed the place , the raptor life is hectic .
It may have been my second trip there only , but I have told the wife as soon as bookings open for next September , I am booking for the school holidays for the family !


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Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 4:58 pm 
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Location: Gauties .
Thanks guys :redface: .

Some more sightings from my first few days in Twee riverin .

Heres there prequel to the Pale chanting goshawk attacking the tawnys as he flies in towards them .
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On my fourth morning , and after a great mini meet with Arks the evening before , I headed up the nossob road a bit before heading back to camp to pack up for Matta Matta .

Near Kij Kij an Eland had died(Been lioned , im not sure) the evening before and a large group of Black backed Jackals where devouring the carcass .
With the kill being so close to the road , it gave me a rare opportunity to get some close up shots of the jackal feeding .
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Image

The Lower dunes road seemed to be pretty productive with good raptor sightings , as well as loads of antelope around the water points .
I spooked this Kori bustard when cresting a dune , and managed to hold up the camera with 1 hand and shot this out the window as he flew next to me .
Until I started descending the dune I felt as if I was formation flying with a Cessna .
Image

The namaqua sandgrouse are easy to spot once you figure out there in flight broadcasting .
I loved the way they pace about at the water holes .
Image


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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 7:59 am 
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Siee-e-errrr-i-a-s-ly impressive! :mrgreen:

I liked the look in the jackals eyes - don't mess with me-e-e!

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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 9:59 am 
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Location: Gauties .
Johan van Rensburg wrote:
Siee-e-errrr-i-a-s-ly impressive! :mrgreen:

I liked the look in the jackals eyes - don't mess with me-e-e!


Hehe , or else I will throw a chunk of meat into your lens !

All I can say is I am glad that kill was fresh , I went past the scene about a week later and shooweee it was not friendly !

Ok before I forget , I have a few more from TR before I kick of the Matta Matta bit .

The red sands are so reflective it shines a lovely redish glow up onto the bellies of things , even eagles soaring above .
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I think Suej has a better photo of this , I met up with her and Penni on the same evening that Arks got to the park , and we had a cool meet up at my camp site for potjiekos !
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The Kalahari is all about the little guys though and I loved the way this little group was hanging about .
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The wildebeest are just as bonkers as those in Kruger it seems , so no hope for a better gene pool there .
This guy must have got a fly or bee up its nose because it went absolutely mad trying to clear its nose .
Image

And there I thought that springbok happily pronked about all over the show (The don't seem to , its a myth that belongs in the same bin with the other one that says surricates exist in the Kgalagadi ) , so I will have to settle with the above pronking wildeebest shot .

I will work on my Matta matta section over the weekend , and now things get interesting .


Last edited by bucky on Fri Sep 28, 2007 10:12 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 12:08 pm 
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Bucky, you are just brilliant what lenses do you use to get those awesome shots, i am in awe thats the kind of photographer i can only dream of being. Please dont keep us in any more suspense, i am counting the seconds to the next installment.


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Unread postPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 11:49 am 
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Location: Gauties .
Thanks as always folks :D .
Tigger83 , if you click on my shots link in my sig it takes you to a page where you can view all my info on the particular shots .
I use mostly a 70-200 , 400 F5.6 (my favourite) and for the KTP trip I also had the use of a 500 F4(one of those huge things) .

I must admit , Twee riverin really surprised me in what I saw as my only previous trip was to TR and it yielded very little , although I must add that at the time the area was in flood with the nossob road being closed .

After packing up in the midst of a large sand storm which felt like somebody was using a powerful hair dryer set on super hot , I managed to get underway for matta matta at around lunch time (The jackals feeding and another puncture repair , combined with the sand storm held me up a bit from wanting to leave at least 2 hours earlier , not that it was a problem with plenty of time to spare)
The drive in the middle of the sand storm was quite exiting to say the least , with not being able to see very far at times .
It did have a huge advantage as the sand closed a lot of the corrugations in the road which made life easy for my caravan .

The drive was well worth it though as the Matta Matta area is very beautiful , with a lot more trees and an overall softer looking setting than the more southern areas .
The addition of giraffe into the viewing mix is also very nice , and these tall giants look every so sexy in the Kalahari setting .

13th Borehole was the place to be by the look of things , and the resident lion pride had it pretty well camped out on just about every second day .

Image

The camelthorn trees were coming into bloom while I was there , so I pretty much witnessed spring in the Kalahari .
How anything actually turns green and starts flowering , let alone survives in the conditions there amazed me .

This , one of the two dominant males of the 13th coalition (lets call them that) was not camera shy , and even posed absolutely perfectly for me .
He did have a bit of a slobbery demanour though , but I will forgive him because his eyes ever so make up for it .
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14th borehole gave me the most interesting experience with respect to tawny eagles , as I watched them courting , plus carrying on with there daily tawny way of living during the course of my week up there .
This is the first in there set of photos , and was my first sighting of them as they squabbled and called to each other .
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Early mornings where the best for a variety of reasons , from the great light , to daily wildcat sightings .
This was probably the most interesting of those sightings , with the hardest light to try and capture it in .
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The backlit dust created loads of opportunity's to get something a little different .
The springbok where all very busy digging in the riverbeds for bits of roots and other edible items .
Image


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Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 9:03 am 
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Location: Gauties .
Glad you are enjoying it :D :D

The Gemsbok is for me the most impressive antelope species in Africa , what an absolutely beautiful animal , with those impressive horns , and being such a strongly adapted animal to be able to live in these harsh conditions can only demand respect.
People there say that they are one of the few things left standing in times of serious drought in the park , and I can well believe it .

I was keen to get some animals silhouettes on the crest of the dunes or calcrete ridges .
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I really though things where going to get serious between these two fighting gemsbok , one of them was wounded slightly on the side of his neck , so I think this was a little more than a gentle play fight.
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And for the Stiff neck birding community , and also a new tick for me -
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I am not sure how many giraffe are in the park , but apparently only around 20 from what I could gather .
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In between all of these sightings , I came across the occasional lion or three , mostly at 13th borehole :twisted:
The sun was shining straight down this females throat .
Image

Image


Last edited by bucky on Mon Oct 08, 2007 9:03 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 3:23 pm 
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Bucky -- am absolutely in awe of your photos !
The giraffe pic -- is that sand sticking to his side or is his hide actually rubbed clear of spots ? :)


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Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 4:03 pm 
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Thanks again all .

p@m , I noticed this on a few of there giraffes , all I can presume is that they get scuffed like this from scratching on the rough camel thorn trees .

Restio , it was fantastic , there is no comparison to Kruger , and both parks are worlds apart , both with there own magic .


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Unread postPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 8:40 am 
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back to my disjointed report :lol: .

When I said predator trip , it was not just about the Lions and jackals etc , but also about the predators of the sky .
Kgalagadi seems to be a fantastic place for seeing Both big and small raptors , I can only imagine the activity in mid Summer .

Yet another new tick for me , the pygmy falcons .
What a stunning little bird , but oh so small .
I managed to get close enough to only one that would sit still for long enough to set up a decent shot .
Did you know they live in the community weavers nests ?
Image

Rock Kestrel seem fairly common in the park .
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As I said before , Matta Matta is giraffe world , and it is one of the big bonuses to this camp in my opinion to see them in this environment .
They look to be very healthy and content with the conditions though , but I wonder how many get lost to the Lions in the area ?
Image

One of my big , almost impossible hopes was to see a cheetah kill .
I think I just missed this on the third day in Matta Matta as a pair of cheetah stalked down onto a group of springbok , but then to my utter disbelief I learned that springbok are fantastic whistlers !
They spotted the cheetah pair and started whistling to each other , I was so amazed ,and a little disappointed to loose the action , as the cheetah soon gave up on the now alert herds in the area , as I bet this whistle carries for long distances in the open dry river beds .
Unfortunately this was to far for a decent shot of the spotted duo , so I lowered my hopes to that of just getting some decent shots of a cheetah in that blissful Kalahari light !

Luckily on abut day 5 in MM , I stopped to look at a pair of tawny eagles feeding on the remains of a fresh kill , they where accompanied by jackals , but no predators where in sight .
After a couple of minutes , I got such a surprise when a cheetah crested the dune , and ran down to the kill that I did not even get a shot of the action as the tawnys took of in front of him !
It seemed like he was well fed though , and was just asserting his authority over the lesser scavengers at the kill , as he sauntered past what was left of the springbok,towards my vehicle and then down into the river bed .
Image

To end of another perfect day , a lone wildebeest was walking in the Auob river bed , the sun and dust where just perfect for this photo .
Image


Last edited by bucky on Mon Oct 08, 2007 9:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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