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 Post subject: Letaba Sightings
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2007 5:28 pm 
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Letaba Morning Walk - 17th Dec

This morning we departed the camp at 04h00, we drove to an area called Shongile (spruit) which is in the west. It has been pouring buckets of rain for the last few days, and this after the ground is just so saturated already. As my colleague expresses - "If you stand still, you can hear the grass grow". Our two guests were as keen as we were, despite the threatening dark clouds seen vaguely by the first light of day.
I must say, there is nothing more exciting than walking through the bush in the rain.
We did not see many of the larger animals, but what won't be forgotten was the mass congregation of Bushveld Rain Frogs and their constant breeding calls. We had to avoid stepping on them. We came across the vacant home of a baboon spider - I assumed all the rain caused his departure. Later on in the walk we found Cheetah spoor of last night and a Civet had used the same path we used this morning. We found scorpoin burrows a number of times and had bird song throughout the walk. The bush smelt fresh and you could 'feel' the absorlute rejuvenation of plants everywhere - growing as freely as they wanted to.
After arriving back at camp, completing all the gastly administration I headed home and only then realized how wet I actually was.
Nothing matters when you are out there.

Saskia


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 Post subject: Sightings on Letaba walk this morning
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 27, 2007 9:26 am 
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Alfred and I walked our guests through the beautiful Tsendze Confluence this morning, where it feeds the Letaba River. The Mopane bush has become extremely dense and there are forbs exploding out the ground everywhere now.

The walk was incredibly scenic, and we saw the following:

- Hippo group (curiously gathered to watch us)
- Ground hornbills - we surprised them, they had not noticed us until we were really near.
- Large congregations of palm swifts
- Impala
- Baboons
- A pair of saddlebilled storks
- Some interesting spoor included, ground hornbill and terrapin,giraffe, lion, elephant.
- We came across fresh elephant dung which kept us on high alert in the thick Mopane bush, we also found lion tracks of a small pride moving north east. We found decomposed remains of a giraffe and evidence of a really large group of impala living in the area.

On our way back, ...brace yourselves....., it started raining (!).

Until tomorrow

Saskia Taylor
Letaba Field Guide


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 Post subject: Letaba Activities - yesterday/today
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:10 pm 
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Letaba Morning walk - 30th Dec

Mopane shrubveld north of the camp this morning's walking area. We stumbled upon hot elephant dung within the first 5 minutes, one could sense the surge of excitement in the group. After signalling everyone to listen and look we all headed off with high hopes.
We encountered an orb-spider and watched as a grasshopper made the mistake of launching itself into the web. Without a thought the spider moved quickly to the entrapped insect and skillfully wrapped it up in silk.
We found zebra, blue wildebeest and impala grazing. Soon afterwards we came across an irate chameleon who performed a perfect demontration of defense to our knowledge-hungry guests.
As we made our way back the vehicle and all hopes of elephants had been lost, my colleague froze and desperately whispered... 'elephant .....close'. On moving to a safer area, we watched a lovely bull in his prime with two others. Happily grazing and taking no interest in us.
In a muddy pool nearby we spotted unusual tracks - on closer inspection we found it to be cape clawless otter tracks, what a surprise.
We said goodbye to the elephants and left for the vehicle.

Letaba Morning walk - 29th Dec

Yesterday morning we headed for the Makhadzi tributary near Giriyondo Border Post. We had not walked there since September and were quite taken aback at how dense the bush was.
Keeping ourselves orientated was a great challenge on its own, with grass that was head-height in many parts and all game paths and landmarks had disppeared in the grass mass, we did not recognise anything.
Pools have appeared everywhere and the mud is now well established.
Sightings: Fish eagle
Fresh buffalo spoor
Tsessebe
Mating pair of lions and many elephants on the
way there

Letaba Sunset Drive - 29th Dec

I drove north towards Makhadzi in the hope of finding the lions again. No luck with them but we did see elephants in the Mopane shrub. Buffalo bulls near the camp and close-ups of hippo along the river.
Other sightings: Crocodiles
Waterbuck
Giraffe
Zebra
Wildebeest


Saskia Taylor
Letaba Fied Guide

[/b]


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 Post subject: Recent morningwalks - Letaba
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2008 1:20 pm 
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Morning Walk - Thusday 31st January

Just as we settled into the walk, the grass still wet and cold, the sun not yet up and that fresh morning bush smell still strong in the air, did we hear at least two large male lions roaring ahead of us.

The haunting sound reverberated down the hippo path we were using. As I turned around to advise our terror-stricken guests to 'walk quietly', and 'look-around', ..... 'they are close', it started again.
We walked from out tall Mopanis and into a large clearing when in front of us we saw a long lion-looking-type-of-tail flicking above the grass with each roar. We stopped and then watched as lion after lion emerged from the grass mass in front of us, totalling 11. They had not seen us giving us lots of time for the much appreciated sighting.
As the lionesses turned around to see where the rest of the pride was, they gave us the 'what IS that' glare, followed by low rumbling efficient enough to scare anyone off.
The pride disappeared into bush up ahead, leaving the male behind in the thick grass nearby - he had not moved, and will probably never know we were there watching him. (Or did he?)


Morning Walk - Saturday 2nd February

We walked at the Engelardt Dam and encountered the following:

- Many different hippo groups
- 3 Buffalo bulls
- Crocodile
- Bateleur
- Yellowbilled kite
- Many waterbirds
- Water monitor

I was a beautiful morning, the dense Mopani forest with beams of sunlight coming through the trees always leaves us with good memories of that area.

Morning walk - Sunday 3rd February

We drove for ages down the two track road/firebreak (aka 'extreme grass') to get to Bolwene Pans.
We got our things together and connected with a rhino trail leading us through various sodic sights with large trees, lala palms and mud pans and later open shrubveld. We found:

Elephant bull
Different zebra groups
Blue wildebeest
impala
Many purple rollers
Pair of tawny eagles
Very fresh rhino spoor
Elephant, buffalo and lion spoor
Elephant carcass (died from a fight with another elephant it seemed)


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 Post subject: Letaba Sightings
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2008 3:25 pm 
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February Game Drives - Letaba

Letaba's Game Drives have been successful in these last 3 weeks. Between Cecilia, Alfred, Jacques, Blues and Saskia, the following animals were seen.

Morning Drives
Elephants...elephants...elephants
Hippo
Zebra
Crocodiles
Secretary birds and Ground hornbills
Blackbacked jackal
Buffalo
Giraffe
Kudu and impala
Waterbuck and blue wildebeest
Honeybadger
Striped polecat (Very unusual)
Carmine beeater

Sunset Drives
Lion
Large and small spotted genet
Hippo
Elephants
Waterbuck and impala
Zebra and blue wildebeest
Buffalo
Hlanganini (last well known large tusker, with Duke)
White rhino
Lanner falcon
Eastern redfooted kestrel
Ostrich
Blackbacked jackal
Crocodiles

Night Drives
Leopard
Lion
Mozambique spitting cobra
African civet
Hippo
Elephant
Buffalo
Spotted hyena
Springhare and scrubhare
Waterbuck
Large and small spotted genet
Grey duiker
Crocodile (hunting)
Fish eagle
Porcupine
Fierynecked and mozambique nightjars
Spotted eagle owl
Giant eagle owl
Marsh owl
Water dikkop
Bronzewinged courser


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 4:54 pm 
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Morning Walk - 27th February

We headed west for the walk, to an area we have not been to in many months. Our guests took keen interest in everything we showed them and were eager to learn more. Spider species, tree species and birds were the order of the day. We found one-day old rhino spoor, older elephant spoor and 'justnow' buffalo spoor. Our ears cocked for oxpeckers and we headed off in the direction of the buffalo.
On approaching a mudwallow in a deep gully, a large set of thick grey horns came into sight. We backed off as quickly as silence would allow us and moved to a safer area. We watched the buffalo bull for ages as he tried desperately to work out what we were. Eventually he lost interest and disappeared into the Mopanis.

Afternoon Walk - 23rd February

We left for Bolwene Koppie southwest of the camp at about 3.30pm. The walk was quite uneventful up until the last hour. Along a rhino path I suddenly saw something moving in front of us, just a few meters away.... a Honey Badger! This is always a special sighting and it is these that we never forget. We caught him completely by surprise.
On noticing us, it ran off and disappeared into nowhere. Further on in the walk, a large steenbok ewe bolted off as we approached her - just as they always do. But there was something different about this one that we could not put our finger on. Forgetting about her, we walked on.... and then noticed a tiny little buck lying flat on a bare patch of ground. A newborn steenbok. It was still wet from the amniotic fluid and remained dead still, in the hope of being left alone. Well we definitely did leave it alone - and after a few quick photos we moved on.

Other Morning Walk sightings in February

Elephant herds / bulls
Buffalo herds / bulls
Hippo
Praying mantis laying eggs
Klipspringer
Zebra
Giraffe
Kudu
Blue wildebeest
Blackbacked jackal
African wild cat
Saddlebilled storks and Ground hornbills
Redwinged pranticoles at Mingerhout Dam
Eastern redfooted kestrels
Black shouldered kites
Redbilled teal with 7 chicks
[/b]


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 10:28 am 
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MARCH SIGHTINGS

Morning Drives
Tsessebe
Leopard
Watebuck, giraffe, zebra,wildebeest
White rhino
Elephants
Blackbacked jackal
Kudu
Buffalo
Hippos and crocodiles

Sunset Drives
Buffalo
Elephant
Lion
Tsessebe
Zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, kudu
Honey badger killing a snake
Hippo and crocodiles
Warthog

Night Drives
Blackbacked jackal
Lion
Elephant
Buffalo
Hippo
Large and small spotted genet
African wild cat
African civet
Springhare and scrubhare
Porcupine
Hyena
Chameleon
Hippo
Leopard
Giant eagle owl and spotted eagle owl

Morning walk - 20th March
We walked a very big loop at the Tzendze Confluence. We had lots of variety on the walk as we moved through riverine bush, Mopani shrubveld, large vlei areas attracting black shouldered kites, Mopani woodland and heavily forrested areas.
We found very fresh black rhino spoor and lion spoor. We came across a giant eagle owl and a juvenile figh eagle sitting on the same dead tree. They watched us for ages.

Morning walk - 10th March
We drove to Makhadzi Spruit and walked east towards the Lebombo Mountains. After leaving the large catchment area we headed for higher ground. While watching a golden-orb spider collect herself after being approached and glared at by 10 humans, we heard the typical stomping/branch breaking sound of an elephant. We quickly moved towards the sound and found only tracks.
We forgot about the elephant and not long afterwards found a very shy white rhino bull. The wind betrayed us, the rhino left and we carried on with the walk.
We spotted the elephant again and headed his way - he was on the move and we tried to keep up.
As we crossed a small spruit, there was a sudden strong scent of elephant. But no other signs. We stopped to reassess our direction, when a very calm voice came from the group.... 'There is an elephant'.... The bush was dense where we were standing and I immediately knew there was trouble. Myself and my colleague looked up and there he was.. head lifted and staring at us.
We backed off VERY quietly and watched his every move.
We disappeared into the mopanis before anything serious could happen.
Much later on in the walk, we heard a trumpeting and crashing through the trees, we stopped, listened and realized it was coming our way. The elephant had been following us and was annoyed, but did not have our scent. We caught a glimpse of him and quickly decided to leave the area before he found us.
The rest of the walk was uneventful, but with adrenalin still flowing through the group - it remained thoroughly entertaining.

Other walks
Many lone buffalo bulls have been seen on foot this month. There is a lot of lion activity in the Letaba area as tracks are seen on each walk. A white rhino bull was found sleeping a burnt area north of the camp and elephants have been easily found. Other sightings included side-striped jackal, little sparrowhawk with prey, secretary bird, ground hornbills, zebra, giraffe and waterbuck with small calves, purple heron and crocodile with prey.
The bush has been getting very dry and rhino are concentrating near the rivers now. But last night we had 10mm of rain so the pans will be full again.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2008 3:44 pm 
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April Morning Walks

Well we have had some serious action over the last two weeks on foot. All the areas have been throwing elephant, buffalo and lion at us. And the sightings have been good.
Ian and Cici van der Watt from North Carolina came to share in the magic of the bush by joining us on 18 walks in 9 days.
And did we have a lot of fun!
On the very last afternoon we drove out to the Nlanganini Mouth and sat on the southern bank for a long time, watching elephant herds coming and going, buffalo bulls, hippo and crocodiles all in front of us. Whitefronted beeaters back and forth and hundreds of guinea fowl coming in at sunset. Sjambok (a long-time employee of KNP who works on the Olifants Wilderness Trail) shared stories of catching poaches on the border with us as the buffalo stared with great interest from the opposite bank.
We also had 2 elephant visitors surprise us from behind and after much commotion they eventually ran off.
As the evening set in and the hippos became restless, we reluctantly packed up our things and headed home.

Other sightings on foot:
Hyena
Klipspringer
Twig snake
Yellowbilled oxpeckers
Shelleys francolin
Honey badger
Waterbuck
Kudu, zebra, giraffe, impala
Chameleon

Morning, Sunset and Night Drive sightings

Lion
Leopard
Tsessebe
Elephant
Buffalo
White rhino
Blue wildebeest, zebra, giraffe, kudu, waterbuck
Hippo
Hippo chasing waterbuck
Honey badger
White buffalo calf (leukism)
Hyena
Blackbacked jackal
Genet and springhare
African wild cat
Snouted cobra



I will keep you all updated on other things happening in the bush up here in the Letaba region.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed May 07, 2008 10:46 am 
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Posts: 184
Location: Germany
Hi SaskiaT,

Would love to read more about the walks!!! It makes me feel as if I was there. :clap:

jasetoni and I booked a morning walk at Letaba for June 10, 08, so your reports are of a very special interest for us. We have been wishing to see a honey badger for years....... and did not know there was a chance to see one on the walks! How great that must have been :D

We hope we can read some more of your wonderful stories till we fly to S.A. (May 28)!!!! Can't wait to get to Kruger! And we are so glad this forum exisits! :dance:

Nina


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 11:03 am 
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Hi Nina

Thanks for reading our reports, and we look forward to having you with us on a walk in June. I have memorized that date and am hoping we have luck with a honey badger that day.

See you soon!
(Look below for the most recent sightings)


Morning walks - End April/early May

We have been finding elephant herds in the Makhadzi area (northeast of the camp), there tend to be large groups moving around there.
Buffalo have been active around all the tributaries, coming in to use the river. It is obviously drying up away from large water sources. The impala rams are keeping the walks alive with loud aggressive grunting and chasing ewes up and down (its impala mating season now), completely oblivious to us. This morning we listened to an impala ram who obviously felt very strongly about his ewes, and seemed to have mastered the art of grunting, growling, choking, gagging or whatever other descriptive words you could use (and not to mention attracting the attention of ALL the predators within hearing distance of him).

We have been finding a lot of lion activity as well. This morning there were signs of an old lion kill near Hlanganini Dam. But we just missed them, they had left the carcass last night.
Yesterday at the Tzendze Confluence we walked into 2 really healthy lionesses and cubs. They were quite skittish though and ran from us. We are usually weary of lionesses with cubs as they often give us trouble.
After that we started finding fresh buffalo spoor - it was obvious that the lionesses (and others around) had been hunting the buffalo, chasing them out the area.
At our breakfast stop along the Letaba River, we saw a kittlitz's plover along the water's edge.

On the 30th April at Engelardt Dam, my colleague Jacques had a lovely surprise of a whole of pack of wild dogs run past them at close range.
We are finding more and more white rhino spoor everywhere now (you know ... those ghost ones..). Black rhino tracks and dung are also found regularly.
We found a big group of shelleys francolin along the Makhadzi tributary - which really left an impression on me as we never see them.



Morning, Sunset and Night Drive Sightings - Late April/early May

Cheetah
Lion
Warthog
Elephant
Buffalo
Hippo
Crocodile
Waterbuck, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest
Blackbacked jackal
Springhare, scrubhare
Grey duiker
Honeybadger
White rhino
Tsessebe
Wild dogs
Leopard
Large and small spotted genet

Saskia Taylor
Letaba Field Guide


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 7:04 pm 
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Location: Back in the city of Golden mine dumps!
Hey Saskia!

Thanks for all the reports :mrgreen: !

I love the area around Nhlanganini dam, stop there everytime for some coffee and biscuits! Good memories!

You should think about writing a diary of your experiences in the park, Would be a best seller :D ! Definately going on a walk at Letaba soon!

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 8:09 pm 
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Honey badger seems to be a regular Letaba area sightng. It it in the same area or are there a few around?

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sat May 31, 2008 4:43 pm 
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Dear Bush Andy

I see you love the Nhlanganini area. Quite interestingly, we picked up a very old rusted 'horse-shoe' there recently on a morning walk. It may even be as old as one hundred years, likely to be from a traveller's horse when going or coming from the Nlhanganini spruit which would have been and still is a main water attraction.
At the very best, I would think horsemen used the area last in the 1940s. I am going to try get more info.

Dear Bush Baptist

We tend to find honeybaders in specific areas. Around Letaba we usually see them in the large open area north of the camp on the way to Mopani, but it is not an everyday occurrence. They move around a lot.

Bye for now, will post more sightings within the next 2 weeks.

Saskia


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2008 5:43 pm 
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Location: Back in the city of Golden mine dumps!
Hey everyone!

That is amazing SaskiaT! Must be a lot of historical items lying out in the veld! Have you found any other interesting items in the bush during your time in the KNP?

Look forward to hearing from you soon! :dance:

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Jun 20, 2008 5:07 pm 
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Letaba Sightings Mid May - Mid June

Morning and Afternoon Walks

The bush was very quiet for about two weeks and then suddenly came to life again. Jacques and Alfred found a black rhino at Bulweni Pans, initially thinking it was a white rhino. The sleepy grey lump lifted its head to reveal a pointed top lip (!!!). All enthuasiam of the supposed white rhino close up was lost as Jacques urgently moved the group to safety. It is a feeling only Field Guides know - You want to disappear into the soil below your feet
Thankfully the black rhino ran the opposite way, which is not normally the case.
White rhino have also been found and we are seeing them at least once a week now. The elephants tend to be hanging around Engelardt Dam. And buffalo bull groups are found easily.
Another exciting walk we had recently was at the Bulweni Koppies. We arrived at our favourite lookout point (a 180+ degree view from a high sandstone rock) and started unpacking our snacks when the familiar rumble of an angry lioness started up below us. Not taking her too seriously we collected our things and prepared to move away. It was obviously a lioness with cubs - they usually growl and then leave once the cubs have moved off. Not this time. She was adamant. And it took a lot of concentration to get away from her. Her cubs must have been very small and she was hiding them in the dense grass, too small to move on their own.
We found another place to have our break and she kept on growling, even though being far from her.

It must be remembered that our walks are based on smaller aspects of the bush - things not noticed from a vehicle. Here are some of the other sightings:
Grey duiker
Tsessebe
Ground hornbills
Little beeaters
Greater flamingo (Engelardt Dam)
Gull (unconfirmed, but appeared to be the lesser blackbacked and not greyheaded, also at Engelardt Dam)
Zebra, giraffe, waterbuck
Klipspringer
Terrapins
Crocodile
Hippo
Buffalo bulls
Masses of spurwing geese
Trumpeter hornbills

Game Drive Sightings

Lion
Leopard
Elephant and buffalo
White rhino
Blackbacked jackal
Kori bustard, secretary bird, ostrich
Porcupine
African civet
Large and small spotted genets
African wild cat
Kudu
Zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, tsessebe
Hippo
Pearlspotted owl and giant eagle owl
Whitefaced owl

Attention all Birders: Get to the Engelardt Dam!

Regards to all readers
Saskia
Letaba Field Guide


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