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 Post subject: Perks' mob in the sweltering, 21-24 Sep 2007, KNP
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 8:57 pm 
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Back from three top-of-the-range days and nights in Lower Sabie and surrounds.

No leopard (the Perks family has declared the Big Five to henceforth be known as the Big Four, since the spotted one does not exist, it is clearly a fabrication!), but some superb stuff seen. Particularly spectacular birding, including a little sod of a bee eater that defies identification, even with Wiki and Google Image to assist.

Was incredibly hot Friday through Sunday, try 41 deg-C at 16h31, pic to prove it! :D Then super windy from Sunday night, and cooler (around 30!) today, much more bearable.

Saw one other YR, on the H4-1. We had just been told about lion, so off we went, saw the flashing lights and the waving, I gave the thumbs up and waved, because I assumed the driver was flagging us down to tell us too, and only as we passed, each doing a fair (but comfortably legal on my side) lick, did we see the ribbon! So my deepest apologies to said forum member, I was not being rude, lions were a-callin'! 8)

240-odd pics to sort through, just shows what a good trip we had. In May we came back with about 90, for a trip of double duration.

Complete report in due course.

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Last trip: New Years in Skuks and Satara
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Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 1:34 pm 
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Preamble

Planning for the September long weekend in KNP started in earnest in June, following a marginally jading six-night trip in May. We had seen next to nothing in the north-central (Palaborwa Gate - Olifants - Satara - Skukuza), and only a decent three nights in Pretoriuskop, coupled with company for family makietie, made it sort of worthwhile.

We decided to do the camping thing, having given camping with kids a trial run in Pilanes last year November.

After losing out on a camp site at Croc Bridge, I eventually got one for Lower Sabie, and we were on.

We had to buy quite a lot of stuff, and supplement our existing stuff with home stuff, having learnt some lessons at Pilanesberg. Examples: ground sheet, decent inflatable mattress, using the gazebo to increase 'living area', a good mallet, a table big enough to seat 4, but still fit in either the trailer or the car boot, and so on.

I also had to do the shopping, SO having started a new job rather surprisingly, when she's been the stay-at-home and organise-all-these-things mom for two years plus.

So I put in another day's leave on Thursday, to pack, and sort out the last minute stuffs. By early evening, I was gutted by fatigue, and I had still managed to cock things up to a degree, and had a new list of things to buy in Komatipoort!!! :D

Nonetheless, we were up early, and on the road by 05h45, goal being to beat the Pretoria traffic. Result! We were on the N4 just after six, and into the 1-Stop at Belfast at 07h50. Car was running beatifully in the cool conditions, and apart from one 119km/h numpty in an old Land Cruiser who refused to use the LH lane, until he got a phone call, the trip was good.

Breakfast in tums, we hit the road again, and arrived in Komatipoort at around 10h30. SO dashed off to buy the stuff I'd forgotten to, while I guarded the car, trailer, and tetchy kids.

At 11h00 or so we hit CB, no queue, A-for-away. Quick stop for bio-break, and at 11h20, with the car suggesting temperatures in the mid-30s, our KNP adventure began.

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Last trip: New Years in Skuks and Satara
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Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 2:26 pm 
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(Pics to follow tonight.)

Friday, CB to LS

So there we were, cruising along, with barely an impala and a grey loerie for company, in the heat of the day.

The SO was not impressed, and my son was doing his best Donkey impersonation... are we there yet?

So we pushed the speed up to 45, closed up, and cranked up the aircon, aaaahhhh! I wasn't happy going so fast, but the SO was convinced that if anything was stupid enough to step out in the road in that heat, it deserved a jolly good running over. (Don't take the above too literally!)

As the H4 'joined up' with the river, birdlife became more prolific, and we spotted our first AFE of the weekend.

Image

Also a rather pretty kudu dame who posed for a decent mugshot.

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We should have known it was going to be a 'birding' weekend when we found goliath heron in the river.

Image

And a few kays later, a large flock of storks on a bank in the river. Long distance spotting meant that there was a major identification crisis, but we eventually worked on the white ones being yellow-billed stork, whereas the black ones are as yet undecided (no picture).

Arriving in camp, SO and kids went off to find a site with some shade (ha!), while I checked in.

OMG, the heat. Setting up camp in the heat is not a joke. But pretty soon it was done, and we could 'settle in'. At which point, major league jealousy regarding chalets with air-conditioners kicked in, tempered by the knowledge that being 'outside' the SO could say something like, oh look, there's a thingamabob, and I'd pick up my camera, turn around, and there would be the thingamabob.

Mid-afternoon we could bear the heat no more, and went around for a swim, before our afternoon drive. Aaahhhh, heaven! Of course the kids did not want to get out the pool, but we dragged them out kicking and screaming, dried them off, and piled them into the car.

Friday PM, north of the Sabie

Our plan was to do a short drive on the northern bank, ending with the traditional 'quick squizz' at Sunset Dam, before heading into camp to braai.

Again we weren't particularly well rewarded with game on the S29, but it was still blimmin' hot, so we weren't surprised. Turning back towards the H10, we found ostrich, a lone female. Now I haven't seen ostrich in Kruger for probably ten years, and the SO never at all, so we were quite chuffed.

Image

SO was clicking away, and showing the kids on the LHS, while I was scanning the plains on the right. When what did I spot? Rhino! :shock: Couldn't believe it, out of the blue. Proves again, that there's a lot to be said for driving slowly, and even stopping occasionally and scanning thoroughly, rather than covering distance, and hoping like h3ll to see something.

Image

Further along, we found a bee-eater. We got a couple of pics, and he hung around long enough for us to get a good look, but we could not identify. Even back at home, with innernet resources, we're still none-the-wiser definitively, and hope someone can give us the casting answer. I'm thinking little bee eater, but there's discrepancies with our Newman's. TBD! [Book says LBE is rufus below, our's is definitely yellow.]

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Uneventful run back down to the river, but on the reservoir wall, we found Perksie's favourite birdie... pied king fisher! :D I was really chuffed.

Image

Image

Also found an ellie at the river having a drink. Even taking the pic from long distance, we could swear he was looking at us directly.

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With the sun hanging low in the western sky, we made quick turn at Sunset Dam, before heading into camp.

Image

_________________
Last trip: New Years in Skuks and Satara
Next: ....................................................


Last edited by Perks. on Tue Sep 25, 2007 5:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Sneak in a quick anecdote before going home!
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 3:55 pm 
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Saturday, sparrow's fart

I open one eye, it's light. The kids are stirring in their tent. I look at my watch, it's just past five. Around us, Lower Sabie comes to life. I silently curse the cretins who see the need to clang tent poles, and noisily load things into their vehicles at this hour. I have a burning desire to dash out of my tent and stab those grof-groffing their way through the gravel to the ablutions, through the heart with a blunt gas cylinder.

And in spite of the generally oppressive heat of the previous day and evening, I am cold. I hunch up under the duvet, pining for a few more minutes' sleep. I can hear the fish eagles calling at the river, and recall in my mind the hyenas laughing, and the lion grunting during the night.

SWMBO is up, and has headed off to the loo. At 05h40, the last straw, some clot has decided he will be first at the gate for the 06h00 release into the wild, before anyone else, and starts his vehicle.

So I drag myself out of the tent, and check the temperature. 13 degrees. Instinctively, I pull on my sweater.

After a large mug of mud and two cigarettes, I can face the world with some conviction. It's now past six, and camp is semi-deserted. My eldest has gone off to shower with my better half, and as if sensing a lowered guard, the baboons have moved in. Our distant neighbours' site is being raided.

Picture the scene, I go sprinting across to save the day. Except I'm commando, save for my loose-fitting sleeping shorts, and I'm terribly self-conscious. My arrival has not perturbed the lead raider, who glowers at me from behind a juicy Golden Delicious. I pick up a stone, and skip it across the ground towards him. I don't want to pin the guy directly and make him mad, just need him to clear off. Like a veteran looter, the raider bites into his prize to free up his hands, loads up with lemons and apples, and dashes off.

My son wanders across to see what the fuss is all about, and I am struck by the thought that it would awfully ironic if our own camp were to be struck whilst I was out defending others' turf. So I send the youngster back with instructions to yell like a banshee should the baboons venture near our patch. Ordinarily we lock up and seal everything when not around, but being early morning and hanging about camp, we're not at full Defcon 5, thus vulnerable.

So. I knock on the trailer-tent and call out at the separate dome tent nearby, but there appears to be nobody around. I wonder at the numptiness of the occupants, leaving their fruit and veg in the open, when they're out of camp.

Not wishing to intrude, I pack up the lemons and apples in their container (a storage box with loose-fitting lid, not vermin proof in the least), and move the brown bag of avos, contents now halved, into the trailer-tent.

Result. Damage has been contained, and there will be apple pie, and lemon for the tequila tonight.

Some time later, after conducting my own ablutions, I spot a lone figure skulking around the site. I wander over. It is clear the lady concerned has had a heavy night, slept solidly, and failed to hear either the raid itself, or my queries regarding occupancy. I explain what I did in the aftermath, and she seems to be grateful. For obvious reasons I omit the parts about me running across in a layer of poly-cotton short of my birthday suit.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Gosh, they're pests. There's a lot to be said for not providing temptation, but with each passing visit, it's getting more desparate.

-----------------------------------------------------------

And to conclude (for now!), here's casa Perks for the weekend, very comfy barring lack of compressor-driven air-conditioning...
Image

_________________
Last trip: New Years in Skuks and Satara
Next: ....................................................


Last edited by Perks. on Tue Sep 25, 2007 5:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 8:22 pm 
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Gone fishin'

Plan of action for the day... concoct a modest greasy fry-up at Nkuhlu. Get back for a morning swim, before the real heat of the day. No great expectations, it's just on 07h00, it's the H4, busy as Eloff Street in rush hour, hot and dry, we'll be lucky to see impala. How wrong this prediction would turn out to be.

First stop, obligatory sighter at Sunset. First at the overflow, where missus spots this chappie in the shrub...

Image
(We have him down as a water monitor, anything more specific, please divulge.)

In the same shrub, a Marico sunbird. But he was far too quick to hang about for a portrait. We're just about to duck when Mrs says she sees another of my favourites in the dead tree across the way. So we drive around to have a look.

Sure enough it's a KF, but the giant...

Image

No wurries, and we're checking out the other birds, and the crocs and the hippos and the impies, nothing major league going on.

What happens next is the most extraordinary series of frames I've shot in some time. And apart from resizing them, I've not altered them one iota.

Fascinated by the YB stork sloshing around in the mud. Telling the kids he kicks up the mud, and if anything gets churned out, his beak is there to grab it, breakfast sorted...

Image

Next thing, I has a fishie!

Image

Now we, and every sod on the bank, are firing off photos for Africa, but we've got the POUND seats. That looks like a yummy fish there, mate!

Image

I'm 'protruding' getting my lens over the wing mirror, and I bump the windscreen washer jet. And cover myself with water and dust off the screen. And I want to bollock the kids out, and cuss anyone who'd care to listen, before I realise it was my own doing.

So I duck back into the car to do something of a repair job on the lens, when we look up again a blimmin' heron has pinched the fish!

Image

How's this phodie, complete with water / blood droplets, ripples, the whole tutti...

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(Now my desktop background at work!)

Down the hatch...

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The kids were a bit upset that the heron had openly nicked the stork's nosh, but like in a Disney flick, all was not lost. Our hero had caught another!

Image

Two kills in the space of five minutes, exhilirating! :D

It was a great start to what would became an amazing drive!

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Last trip: New Years in Skuks and Satara
Next: ....................................................


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Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 5:42 pm 
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Right, where were we, ah yes...

LS - Nkuhlu - LS

So we leave Sunset, grinning from ear to ear following the heron / stork debacle, and I nearly cut some poor sod off, in an attempt to get across the road to photograph this cute plover. And the AIDS (see my signature) kicks in big time. Common as dirt, and I'm furiously flipping through the bird book, and coming up with everything except...

Blacksmith plover!
Image

And so we set off again. A few hundreds yards up the road, the girls and their magic eyes spot greater striped swallow...

Image

A few yards up the road again, there's a furious trumpeting in the reeds below. It's an elephant, obviously, and he's MAD! :D Chasing a lone buff around in the reeds! So we hang about, but nothing further comes of the melee.

It's now almost eight o'clock, and we can still see LS in the rearview mirror. Our 'quick and uneventful drive to Nkuhlu' is turning out to be rather busy. A few kays up the road we find a sizeable herd of buffalo across the river.

Image

And shortly thereafter, this unidentified raptor. The bad AIDS again. Subsequently, I have checked and checked again, and believe it to be a yellow-billed kite.

Image
(Not sure why this is not working???? Copy the bits between the tags, and paste to address bar?)

Shortly thereafter we run into our 'over the road neighbours' from camp, and they tell us they've spotted a lone lioness in thick bush. At this point, credit to MrsP. Although she'd never set foot in KNP until 1997, she's Old School. Chats with anybody and everybody, waves, the whole tutti. So the long conversation begins. We try and get a verbal ID on the raptor we've just seen, the chap in the other car is telling us about brown snake eagles! :D They also tell us that a few kays up the road there's a regular pride of five lion on the move, 2 boys, 3 girls.

Anyways we pull off, and MrsP spots the first lioness, but not photographable. We press on.

Soon we encounter the traffic jam, and are fortunate to see the lionesses heading north.

Image

Image

According to one of the first people on the scene, the males have gone towards the river, into the reeds, and escape scrutiny.

Nonetheless, the kids are now getting real tetchy about their breakfast, so we head off. Only to find this cute little chap lying down. Again our ID sucks, but we settled on grey duiker.

Image

This drive is now getting ridiculous, we run into a roadblock, smallish herd on the road, but some real beauties...

Image

Eventually we arrive at Nkuhlu. It's 9 or thereabouts, and into the mid-30s. Stinker of a day, but we've had an incredible drive. Must also add that we also saw, but didn't photograph... black eyed bulbul, francolins, baboons, kudu, giraffe, all common as mud stuff.

Breakfast is excellent, aside from the menace, and an hour later we're back on the road. 38 degrees. Oof. The sharp eyes find this bloke hiding behind a thicket. Again, lousy ID, we settled on reedbuck, based on the horns, but that black / white fur on the spine puzzles me.

Image

It's now blazing hot, you'd expect everything with a pulse to be tucked up under a cool bush somewhere, but no! Who said cats were smart? :D

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(Check the tongue hanging out, panting!)

Our excellent morning's work concludes with the obligatory stopover at Sunset, but nothing much to report, barring hippo joining the mad dogs and Englishmen in the hot sun...

Image

Sjoe, what a day so far! We're beat!

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Last trip: New Years in Skuks and Satara
Next: ....................................................


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Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2007 8:16 am 
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A word on the heat...

And to put that heat into perspective! :D

My car measures outside air temperature, as many do. In the shade or on the move (i.e. with airflow over the sensor), it is accurate to within a degree of weather reports, or at home, my normal thermometer. Standing in the sun, it shows higher temps.

Saturday's predicted maximum was 37. The car was showing over 40 when standing, and 38 when on the move.

Sunday's initial prediction was for 40, this was revised on Sunday morning, also to 37, presumably as a result of the southerly breezes blowing late Saturday afternoon.

Standing, the car showed 45. At 16h31, on the move, it registered 41. :shock:

NOW! To give you an idea...

The predicted maximum for Pretoria today is 17 degrees, we've had some rain overnight, and some sort of front has passed through.

The differential between today's max, and what we experienced four days ago, is 24 degrees. That's equivalent from leaving the UK in winter, at 0 degrees, and landing in Joburg, on a cool summer's day, with the mercury at 24.

We know Kruger is hot, and we knew it would be extra hot on the weekend, but it blows my mind the heat we experienced! :D

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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 7:54 am 
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Here endeth the lesson. Bye. It's been nice. Like a-cup-of-tea-nice.

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Last trip: New Years in Skuks and Satara
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Unread postPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2007 10:51 am 
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Perks. wrote:

The sharp eyes find this bloke hiding behind a thicket. Again, lousy ID, we settled on reedbuck, based on the horns, but that black / white fur on the spine puzzles me.
Image


Not Reedbuck but a male Bushbuck. :wink:

Perks. wrote:

We know Kruger is hot, and we knew it would be extra hot on the weekend, but it blows my mind the heat we experienced!


I think it’s the humidity here by us that drains you guys not the heat itself. :twisted:
Again, really enjoying your report and photos.
:clap:

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