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 Post subject: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:15 pm 
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Hi all

After being guilty of reading many many trip reports over the past two years without one of my own, I decided that on my trip to KTP at the end of 2008 I would make amends. I know that there are several reports coming out at present dealing with the same period, but I am sure you guys would like more, not less 8)

I need to do some research as to the best way to do the pics and video etc, so bear with me and I will try and get the report coming asap.

A teaser for you :twisted:
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 Post subject: Re: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:38 pm 
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Retry using Tinypic :dance:

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Camping Kruger Dec-Jan 2010/11
Trip over :(
Perhaps Kalahari Dec 2011 ? :)


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 Post subject: Re: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:19 pm 
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The Pathfinder contingent consists of me, my SO “T”, our 6 year old daughter “C” and my 2 ½ year old son “A”. Having spent most of my childhood game reserve visits in the Lowveld and having worked on a private reserve in the Umbabat, I was shielded from the charms of the Kalahari until fairly recently. :D In 1999 the SO and I did a road trip/ordeal to Etoscha, and on our way back stopped off in the KTP for 3 nights. This introduction was enough to wet our appetites and a 2 week trip in August 2003 followed. Having suffered near hypothermia :naughty: we tried again in April/May 2007 for a week and now the red sand was well and truly under our skins. Hence with much anticipation and excitement we booked a 18 day trip for December 08 and counted down the months and then the days :wall: .

A 04h00 departure on the 16th saw us on the N7 heading north. Watching the sunrise over Pakhuis pass was special and then onwards to Springbok.
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Near Vanrhynsdorp I saw a baby meerkat near the roadside and hoped it was a taste of things to come :whistle: . Through the metropolis of Pofadder (I love the road to Pofadder) and an overnight stop in Upington. It was 38 degrees in Upington and while expected, the heat took a bit of getting used to. While the numbers appear scary, a 38 C temperature in the Kalahari is not the same as say, Kruger due to the lower humidity.

17 December

After doing our shopping in Upington we got away at about 10h00. As you encounter the first red dunes on the road north you can feel the anticipation rising. I was also pleasantly surprised at seeing far less roadkill than on prior visits :sniper: . A dead Giant eagle owl and 1 Bat eared fox, as terrible as this was, was still better than the carnage we had encountered before. Perhaps the carnage has taken it’s toll and there are just less victims as a result?
Next instalment, our arrival and first afternoon in the park :popcorn:

_________________
Camping Kruger Dec-Jan 2010/11
Trip over :(
Perhaps Kalahari Dec 2011 ? :)


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 Post subject: Re: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 3:09 pm 
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We arrived at Twee Rivieren at 12h30. The road as mentioned in other recent reports is now tarred all the way to the camp (barring the last 150 metres or so). What a pleasure. I do not want to re-open the tar road debate but arriving at the gate without a neck spasm and white knuckles made a very pleasant change :shock:

Our temperature gauge in the car registered 39 degrees and there were some small clouds on the horizon. The wind was from the North so I hopefully scanned the horizon for cumulous. I absolutely love thunder storms and fervently hoped to see one in the Kalahari – time would tell

We checked into number 4 and after a swim we headed off into the park at 15h30. We took the Nossob road to Rooiputs and saw wildebeest, springbok and gemsbok.A few PCG’s could be seen as well. At Samevlooing we saw the Shelducks that Katy Down Under had recorded in November :dance:
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At rooiputs saw 2 lanner falcons drinking and bathing and a tortoise (a first for us in the Kalahari).On the way home, just past Leeudril we saw our first Cheetah of the trip 8) 5 of them on the move. They moved in the direction of some Springbok we had seen earlier but soon lay down. Unfortunately they were a long way off and a 300 mm lense has it’s limitations :sniper:
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The cumulous was building and I took this pic near Leeudril.

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Near camp saw a baby tortoise and at the camp gate saw a very big tortoise in the road
Inside camp we found another big tortoise and a scrub hare.
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From our chalet I saw rain in the distance from a beautiful cumulous cloud with a rainbow under it. It looked like the rain was falling in the direction of Houmoed although it was never more than a a couple of drops.
We braaied and slept peacefully on our first night in the park.
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_________________
Camping Kruger Dec-Jan 2010/11
Trip over :(
Perhaps Kalahari Dec 2011 ? :)


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 Post subject: Re: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 9:52 am 
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Thanks for all the encouragement! It was great to meet some forumites this time around and we proudly flew a yellow ribbon (made from the finest dish cloth we could find in Upington after discovering that ribbon had not been packed :shock: ). During our stay we met Tin Tin, Big Al, Gus and Munchkin and enjoyed our chats immensely.

18 December

I was up at 05h00 and with a coffee in one hand and my binocs in the other I enjoyed the dawn chorus on our verandah. Those with small kids will know that any “me” time in the bush is very precious as is any “peace” time, so I left the rest to sleep and absorbed my first KTP sunrise of the trip.

The Whitebrowed Sparrow weavers were as active as ever and I was thrilled to see a Scimitarbill woodhoopoe who even came and sat on my car for a while. We were heading for the Tented camp today so we decided to let the kids run around a bit to burn off some energy and to give them a big breakfast. This meant that we only left TR at 08h00, but such is the reality of Game reserves with small kids.

There was a nice herd of Springbok in the riverbed with several very small additions. Perhaps a sign of thinks to come?
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One of our favourite waterholes is Samevlooing so we always make a stop there. Greybacked finch larks were common around the waterhole and our Shelducks were paddling about as usual. A herd of Gemsbok approached the waterhole and a Kori Bustard quenched his thirst. The Gemsbok appeared very fat and healthy on this visit :wink:
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It was relatively quite on the dune section and the road to AuchterlonieImage

but we were delighted to see 2 Temnicks courser in the riverbed. They were too far for a photo unfortunately but we had nice views with our binocs. I was a bit disappointed at the lack of raptor sightings on the drive as I had dreamed of vast swarms of raptors battling for perching space on every tree…..this was my first summer visit after all. Swallow Tailed Bee Eaters were very common on this trip and I love watching their antics
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Nonetheless, we did see several BlackBreasted Snake Eagles in flight as well as a juvenile African Hawk Eagle in a tree which was kindly pointed out to us by a Dutch visitor. This is a first for me in the KTP and being a juvenile bird the ID was typically tricky. Having spent some time debating the issue with SO (a nice word for argument) and the Dutchmen we concurred. After years of bird “debates” my SO and I have decided that I will get final say on raptors and she will get any LBJ decisions. This makes life far more harmonious on a hot day in the KTP.

At Urikaruus waterhole we noticed that it had suddenly become a lot greener and there was far more grass than further south. A rain storm must have occurred in this region and around the water were several secretary birds. In previous trips a Secretary bird sighting was something to strive for but on this trip we saw them at every turn. Are they always this common in summer or was 2008 just a bad year for birth control?

And then just past Urikaruus we experienced one of my greatest highlights of any trip to the bush………..

_________________
Camping Kruger Dec-Jan 2010/11
Trip over :(
Perhaps Kalahari Dec 2011 ? :)


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 Post subject: Re: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 12:59 pm 
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Hi Bush Baptist
Like all Juvenile plumage scenarios I guess one could never claim to be 100% sure, but we had a good long look at him, as did the Dutchmen and he certainly fitted the AHE giz. Wait until you see what other bird turned up on our trip...but that is for another days installment (with pics for proof) :twisted:

Just past the turnoff to Urikaruus camp we came across a large herd of Springbok. Many of the ewes were still pregnant and very small babies were abundant. After enjoying the spectacle for a while we were moving off when my SO shouted STOP! Her eagle eyes seldom miss anything and instantly I thought “predator”. But she was pointing at a Springbok Ewe standing in the shade of a tree next to the road. There was something odd about her (the Ewe, not my SO :twisted: 8) ) as she had what appeared to be a white balloon protruding from her rear. I pulled up next to her and turned the engine off. :hmz:

She was about to give birth and much excitement buzzed in the car :dance: . There was no shade and it was already 39 C, but we prepared to wait and watch what unfolded.
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The “balloon” broke along with her waters and we could now see little feet protruding.
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A running commentary on the “birds and the bees” was necessary for my 6 year old who was fascinated that it was coming out of her “bum”? Slowly but surely the Ewe pushed and manouvered herself into various birthing positions. The rest of the herd paid her no attention at all and carried on grazing nearby. I was ever mindful of the possibility of a predator arriving as I had witnessed a Baby Impala snatched by Jackal as it was born on the S100 in Kruger many years before. How would we explain this to C? The circle of life explanation is only so good at the end of the day…..Slowly but surely the head and shoulders emerged and by now a few more cars had arrived on the scene.
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After about 1 hour the baby was ¾ out with just the hind legs still inside mom.

The baby had not yet moved though and we became increasingly worried that it was to be a stillborn infant. Talking in Afrikaans to hide this from C we discussed the potential explanations for this when thankfully the baby opened its eyes and moved its head. SHEW!
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15 minutes late and it was out, attached just by a bit of placenta to mom, who was giving the baby loving kisses and licks. What an experience!
:clap: :clap:
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To witness a birth in the wild like this is very special and is undoubtably one of the highlights of this trip (and others) for us. A good reason to brave the heat of December. While we would have loved to stay to wait for it to stand up, the kids were now restless and after sitting in 39 C for over an hour I had to proceed to the Tented Camp. What else would this day have in store for us?
:twisted:

_________________
Camping Kruger Dec-Jan 2010/11
Trip over :(
Perhaps Kalahari Dec 2011 ? :)


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 Post subject: Re: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2009 8:57 am 
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We arrived at the Tented Camp at about 13h30 and were given number 9. We had always stayed in numbers 12 – 15 in the past so it was nice to be so much closer to the waterhole – and we would be even happier about this in the days to come :dance:
I noted the new enclosure for the vehicle to park in and assume that this is to protect your tyres from the marauding Spotted Hyena’s in the area :big_eyes: . Talking of these, I had read the amazing report on the forum of the Hyena’s that killed the Wildebeest under a tent before coming to the park. In front of our unit in the riverbed was the Wildebeest carcass. The floorboards near the door of our unit were broken and we had to put a suitcase over one section of floor to prevent any slithering things from entering the tent :shock: . Naturally we believed we were in THE tent, but on enquiry with the camp assistant we were told that the incident had occurred in number 6. At the same time though he asked me whether I had seen the Lions? “No, are they close by?” I innocently asked. “Well they were right in front of your tent a few hours ago… :wall:
I scanned the area with binocs with no luck, and as it was now unpleasantly warm inside the tent we decided to walk to the pool for a swim. At the pool we met some delightful people who had seen the end of the Springbok birth and had stayed to watch him walk for the first time. They were Kruger regulars visiting KTP for the first time but were already hooked and planning a return trip. While chatting I glanced across the riverbed from the pool deck and saw the unmistakeable outline of a Male Lion under a tree! 8) The pride consisted of 7 lions and they had been snoozing behind a tree out of sight from our verandah. Having never seen anything major from this camp in previous trips, Lion on our first day there was a huge bonus! Taking a casual but brisk walk back to our tent while keeping a watchful eye on the lions must have been an amusing sight from afar :whistle: . The lions gradually became active and moved into view on route to the waterhole. The big male was very interested in a female in the pride and growled and chased any of the young males who came near him. At one point he approached her while she was lying down and then proceded to make a number 2 right next to her head :naughty: ! Who says that romance is dead?
This was happening too far away for pics on my equipment, but when the youngsters came to drink I managed to get some useable shots.

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I need to do some video editing as I am sure we got some nice video of this crowd too.As it grew dark Jackals began to call and there was a bit of lightning on the horizon towards Namibia :popcorn: . The lions lay down in the riverbed in front of our unit and could still be seen using my spotlight, which I did from time to time while braaing. Unfenced camps have a habit of making you want to know where the lions are…..
We could not have asked for a better first full day in the park, what would the next 16 days deliver?


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 Post subject: Re: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:33 am 
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19 December.

I got up early and watched the sunrise with a coffee. The birds and small mammals at KTC are fantastic and from my verandah I watched Crimson Boubous, canarys, Bee Eaters, LBR’s and drongo’s to name a few.

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At 06h30 we went on a drive south, and on route saw wildebeest, Springbok and Gemsbok. We were on the lookout for the Giraffe herds but no luck today. At Craig Lockhart we sat quietly for 20 minutes watching birds at the waterhole. Gazing up through the sunroof revealed 2 Giant Eagle Owls perched in the big tree in the car park. They were in a deep sleep and not concerned by us at all.

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Perhaps it was because we had been parked silently for so long, or maybe just blind luck, but we were about to get a big surprise :big_eyes:

In my side mirror I noticed movement coming from behind the big tree we were parked under. And then an African Crake stuck his head out from behind the tree and casually strolled over to the car as if he wanted to say hello to a neighbour!! :dance: :dance:

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He even walked about under the car before strolling nonchalantly back behind the tree. When we left Lockhart we could not see him anywhere and I suspect he was living in the thick bush near the windmill. I have seen one once at Rabelais Dam in Kruger, but on the bone dry Aoub river in the Kalahari? Have any other forumites ever seen an African Crake in the KTP?

At Dalkeith we saw a rather mangy jackal

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and then as the heat grew we returned to KTC.
On the ride back we saw a large Martial eagle as well as a Black Shouldered Kite and Black Breasted Snake Eagles (several). Bee Eaters seem to be common throughout the park at present too. From our verandah I could see 2 Lanner Falcons at the waterhole and some Wildebeest, Springbok and Ostrich came to drink.

At 11h30 I drove to Mata Mata to shop and fill up. A Wildebeest had died at the waterhole (met people who had seen it collapse, so was not caused by predation) and the local lion pride had pulled it under a tree opposite the waterhole. The lions could not be seen however. On returning to KTC we spent the afternoon in camp. The pool at KTC is the best in the park IMHO and a very social gathering point as well.

At 16h00 we drove to Dalkeith again hoping to find our Crake on route. It was a very quite drive and in the next 3 days we never found the Crake again (anyone else seen him lately?). :huh:

Our luck changed on the way back however as we found a Bat eared fox den and the youngsters were out and about. I had recently bought a GPS unit so could enter the location and we checked in on this family over the next few days.
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About 5 kms from KTC we came across a Cape Cobra in the road. He appeared agitated at our presence and raised a hood before disappearing down a Whistling rat hole.

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Close by we found this lovely fellow basking in the late afternoon sun. I hope the Cobra didn’t find this fellow as I am very fond of Whistling rats.

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Then about 1 km from Sitzas we found another Bat Eared Fox den close to the road and this family sunning themselves in lovely light. We spent some time with them before returning to camp
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After our Braai we could hear Lion calling in the distance and again some lightning over Namibia. It had been a warm day (39 C) but during the night a very strong wind suddenly struck us from the West and shook the tent quite violently. It did at least cool things down a bit and the stars were soon covered by cloud. What would tomorrow bring?

_________________
Camping Kruger Dec-Jan 2010/11
Trip over :(
Perhaps Kalahari Dec 2011 ? :)


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 Post subject: Re: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:33 pm 
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Thanks for all the positive comments - much appreciated :D

20 December

I awoke before sunrise and settled onto the verandah for a cup of coffee. As it became light I absorbed the surroundings and enjoyed the peace that only the Kalahari can offer. Something moved in my peripheral vision. Had I imagined it? Across the river bed it moved again in a peculiar gait that could only mean one thing. BROWN HYENA! :dance: :dance: :dance: I leapt up and hurtled into the tent to wake up SO and it only took those two words to have her bounding onto the verandah in record time :big_eyes: . As it was only our second ever sighting of these beautiful animals (and our first in daylight) you can imagine how excited we were. He loped along in a southerly direction and I guess that he was heading for home after a night out with the boys. I think we got some video but still need to download that media, and he was too far (and I was too excited) to grab my camera. When he was gone and normality returned to our verandah we finished our coffee in silence. Lions and a Brown Hyena in front of our tent. Could there still be more surprises in store for us at the Tented camp :twisted: ?

At 08h00 we drove as far as Dalkeith. At Craig Lockhart we watched the resident 2 Giant Eagle owls as well as numerous Namaqua Sandgrouse, a Jackal and some Gemsbok at the waterhole.

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We also saw a melba finch and lots of red headed finches. There were many moisture trails in the sky and at 10h00 the clouds were starting to form.
We saw a few Black Breasted snake eagles on the way back as well as a big Martial Eagle that was too far away to photo. A Jackal came to drink at the camp waterhole on our return and we wondered what else we had missed in front of our verandah.

I popped down to Mata Mata to buy some drinks and firewood at 11h00. The lions had dragged the Wildebeest carcass out of sight of the waterhole, and were not seen, but numerous cattle egrets were at waterhole.After lunch we had a swim and noted the dark clouds forming in the sky. A Secretary bird at came to the waterhole as well as 2 Lanner falcons and a Black Breasted eagle. I saw what looked like a Montagus Harier in flight, but can’t be positive due to the distance although did get a positive ID on numerous European swifts circling the sky above. I heard a commotion in the kitchen area and found a TitBabbler who had got himself lost despite the huge opening to get out again. He hopped about for 10 minutes trying to figure out a way out and I enjoyed the sighting as they are such pretty birds. After hearing a Striped kingfisher calling stridently I was finally rewarded with a sighting of him in the tree below the tent. There is never a dull moment at the tented camp……. The temperature hit 39 degrees that afternoon.

At 15h00 we had just departed on a drive when I noticed that my fuel gauge was steadily falling? Odd as I had filled up that morning and my onboard trip computer that had said I had 700 kms to go suddenly registered 300 kms.Then 250, then 200…..I headed for Mata Mata in a state of mild panic. By the time we got there it registered empty and the fuel light was on but I could find no trace of a leak and so I filled up again and it took the litres I had expected. Gauge busted! While inspecting for fuel leaks I also noticed that the front protection plate was hanging down in the front of the underside as the two bolts holding it in place had rattled loose and fallen out.
Neels the Mata Mata mechanic was kind enough to find some bolts and did a quick repair job. We would now have to work on mileage, and not the fuel gauge. The trip wasn’t a complete waste though as while waiting for the repair we saw two white faced owls in the tree in front of shop.
One of the owls had us in hysterics as he turned his head upside down to look at us.

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It even started to rain! There is nothing like the smell of rain on hot sand but the water evaporated as soon as it hit the ground and it stopped as soon as it had begun.We decided to continue to Dalkeith and at Craig Lockart our 2 Giant Eagle owls were calling in tandem from there lofty perch! Perhaps they were asking the rain to come back? Near Sitzas we found an immature PCG right next to road calling continually and looking rather agitated. I suspect that he was following a snake as there were numerous rodent holes underneath his perch and despite being next to the car he did not move away.

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There were many raptors in the trees as it had cooled down and was very overcast now. There were Blackbreasted Snake eagles everywhere. We also saw a Wahlbergs Eagle and a Tawny near Dalkeith.
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A Bateleur sat with his back to us in a tree. We visited our Bat Eared fox dens (a GPS ia a wonderful thing) and it was lovely to drive with all windows open and the aircon off. On our return there were some big spots of rain at the tent, but they too evaporated as soon as they hit the sand. The sunset was magnificent and as it grew dark a lion began calling from the direction of Sitzas. He called several times that evening and at one stage sounded close to camp
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Add in the noise of a Barn Owl and Spotted eagle Owl and a very nice evening ensued. Once again a very strong wind came up during night and I held onto my duvet a little bit harder than necessary.
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 Post subject: Re: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 3:51 pm 
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21 December.

I was up early as usual for my coffee on the veranda and after the excitement of the Brown Hyena the day before I carefully scanned the opposite bank for signs of movement. No luck however but thought to myself that you can’t be that lucky all the time…or could you? :twisted: Out of the corner of my eye to my left I was certain I had seen movement. Probably a Jackal I thought…..but it wasn’t! :shock: In front of tent number 6 (I am asking for that tent next time) I could now see 2 Cheetah and they had caught a Springbok and were busy eating it :dance: :dance: . In a repeat of the day before I rudely awakened SO who came hurtling out the door again :big_eyes: (she really should drink more early coffee).
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A Jackal had now arrived on the scene and it began to harass them in the hope of an easy meal. As you can see from the pics they were too far away to get decent quality
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but that was the least of my concerns as we savoured the scene :popcorn: . They soon abandoned the carcass and walked across to the waterhole for a drink and a very happy Jackal leapt on the remains.
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Then they lay down in some shade in full view of us on the opposite bank and like the Lions from our first night at KTC we could watch them from the Veranda. Well who needs to go on a drive then? During the morning many wary Springbok came to drink while keeping a beady eye on the snoozing felines, as well as some Ostrich and a large herd of Wildebeest. Familiar chats, Glossy Starlings and Drongo’s kept us company and we had a flapjack breakfast to complete another gorgeous morning in the Kalahari.
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I went to Mata Mata with C to buy some drinks and ice at midday as it was now again 39 degrees. The drive was uneventful as everything mammal was hiding in whatever shade they could find, although we did see a Steenbok near camp which C really enjoyed.

In the late afternoon we decided to leave the Cheetahs and drove to Veertiende Boorgat. We found a lonely Hartebeest at Sitzas
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And at Craig Lockhart our friendly Giant Eagle owls and a lone Male lion off to the right behind trees. Mr Lion was comatose and it was not possible to get a pic of him as he was lying under some fairly thick bush rudely displaying his nether regions to all and sundry :naughty: . Near Veertiende Boorgat we found another Bat eared fox den, a mom and 1 pup that scampered under a dead tree when we stopped.
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I find that once you have been in the park for a few days you start to enjoy the scenery more and more. You have hopefully seen the usual suspects like Lion, Jackal etc so you have no pressure :wall: to find anything in order to enjoy the drive. It is then that you start to notice peculiar trees, bugs and the smaller mammals and today it was trees. This pic was taken near Dertiende Boorgat and it appears that the tree just gave up one day and collapsed in a heap :P
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At Veertiende Boorgat we noticed this tree in the shape of a “r’ (well I think so anyway)
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and SO had a great idea/challenge. She is a very keen scrap booker and thought it would be great to take pics of letters in Nature and use them to spell out the title of her scrapbook of the holiday. KALAHARI…….well we had our “r” now.

On our way back to camp we stopped to check in on the Lion and were just in time to see him get up (it moved!) and move further out of sight behind a bush. Very antisocial Lion this one :D
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The night in camp was very still with little “night noise” barring some jackal early in evening. The cheetah were still there and we watched them from our veranda until it got too dark to see. Just before I retired for the night I flashed my spotlight one more time….and was very happy that I had :shock: as a Brown Hyena was drinking at the waterhole! I slept very well that night. 8)

_________________
Camping Kruger Dec-Jan 2010/11
Trip over :(
Perhaps Kalahari Dec 2011 ? :)


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 Post subject: Re: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:43 pm 
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22 DEC

We decided to sleep in a little as we had a long day’s drive to Nossob ahead of us. Little did we know that today would be the day of the Lions! After packing the car we got away at 08h00 and shortly before Craig Lockhart we found the area’s speciality at last! Giraffe! At the waterhole we were thrilled to find some more, together with some gemsbok and a lone wildebeest :dance:
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As this morning would be our last realistic chance of seeing the Giraffe it was a very happy car that made its way to Dalkeith. Lying next to the watertank was a very sleepy lioness :roll:
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and nearby was her sleepy mate.
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She did not move at all and for a while I thought she was dead, but at last I saw her ears twitching. It was very hot already (36 degrees) so they had probably settled in for the day 8)

After a toilet stop at Kamqua we took the dune road. There were lots of Tsamma melons over the first 5 kilometres. They are literally everywhere! As usual in the dunes we also saw Steenbok and lots of Black Korhaans and at Vaalpan a lone Secretary bird. On previous trips a sighting of a Secretary bird was a cause for celebration but on this trip they were everywhere :shock: . In keeping with todays theme we were about 4 kms short of Moravet when SO spotted a very young male lion close to the road.

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We had never seen Lions in the dunes before and he seemed as surprised to see us as we were to see him. We called him Abraham Lincoln as he had a trendy beard and he also had a nervous disposition. Are dune lions less accustomed to cars we wondered :hmz: ?
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At Moravet there was water in the pan and lots of birds enjoying a drink, accompanied by a large herd of Gemsbok. The dune road is one of our favourite drives due to the incredible scenery, but people seem to treat it as a highway and drive far too fast! :rtm: :sniper: Another issue with the road is that (like with many other people I am sure) the kids got car sick from the undulations :slap: . We stopped at Eland to get their tummy’s stable and while there saw a Dusky sunbird and a lovely Steenbok with a broken Horn and Ear.
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We stretched our legs at Dikbaardskolk and I kept a close eye out for any Cobra’s trying to hitch a lift under the bonnet :twisted: ! A quick lunch and then northwards towards Nossob. The difference in the vegetation between the two river valleys was vast and it was clear that the Nossob Valley had received far more rain. What was also immediately apparent was that the Raptor population on the Nossob was incredible. About 5 kms short of Kaspersdraai we found our third Lion sighting of the day, 4 young lions sleeping in the road :big_eyes: !

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I have seen pictures of this from other forumites but this was our first experience of this behaviour in the Kalahari. They were so close I could have reached out and touched them and as they were completely unperturbed by us, this is something that this group does on a regular basis. I had fun taking close ups of their paws :cam: .
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I also noticed that we had just discovered our letter K for the Scrap Book :dance: :dance: !
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As we drove further North we saw more and more raptors and near Rooikop found an area that had Steppe Buzzard, Bateleur, Black breasted Snake Eagle, Lappet faced and Whitebacked vultures, lanner falcons, Greater Kestrel and 2 secretary birds, all in a space of about 400 metres. Many of them were on the ground in the riverbed but we could not see what they were after. It was too early in the day for a termite hatch :hmz: ?

At Nossob we checked into chalet 1 and a temperature check revealed a healthy 41 degrees. The fans help, but not much. Soon after checking in screams from the Kids bedroom revealed a very nervous Bat who had fallen from the ceiling onto C’s bed :big_eyes: . Tupperware saved the day and I was able to gently capture him without any fuss. I tried to use the opportunity to showcase one of nature’s smaller furry creatures to the kids, but a scared 6 year old is not a great audience when it comes to these things and they insisted that I take it outside ASAP :wall: . I put the Bat into the tree outside and he quickly clambered out of sight.

To calm everyone down we went for a refreshing swim and then decided to drive to Kwang. SO insisted that I thoroughly check the kids room for any more nasty’s before we left and I was sorry to find another Bat on the window sill, this time deceased :( . I think he had collided with the ceiling fan when he dropped from the roof. I did not tell the kids about this one :whistle: !

At Cubitjie Quap we found a Bateleur having a drink,
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and then bounced and rattled our way to Kwang (the road North of Nossob was in a pretty bad way :sniper: ).

At Kwang we were thrilled to see an Abdims stork for the first time, all on his own at the waterhole. In keeping with the findings earlier that day, Raptors were everywhere at Kwang. Lanner falcons, a Tawny eagle, Bateleur , Secretary Birds and Kori Bustards walked about on the ground, and Whitebacked Vultures did their best Jungle Book imitation from the trees. Kwang had clearly received some nice early rain as it was far greener than anything we had seen at that time in the park :cam: .
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While braaing that evening we saw 3 Pearl Spotted owls in the tree opposite our chalet, and a Rufous Cheeked Nightjar flittered about in the firelight. The sound of barking Ghecko’s and numerous Barn Owls calling also makes Nossob a very special place for me :D .

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I was amazed though at how many people were walking to the hide past our bungalow without shoes on and with no torch :naughty: ! I had just muttered something to this effect to SO when a movement near the fire caught my eye. I turned on my spotlight and trundling towards me with purpose was a thick tailed scorpion. He settled down happily on the edge of the veranda much to my (and children’s) consternation. After showing him to the neighbors and a barefoot passerby (who looked suitable sheepish :redface: I was left with a dilemma. What to do about this unwelcome visitor? I tend to believe when it comes to nature that if you leave them alone they will do the same to you. My 3 year old however does not yet understand this concept and to prevent disaster I decided to use the braai tongs and see how he liked the coals :whistle: . This approach was clearly not new to the visitor though because when the tongs came near his tail he scuttled off at high speed in the direction of the petrol station. It was a good lesson for the family though and I no longer had to nag to get them to put their shoes on in the evening. Only 1 Jackal was seen in the camp which is a big improvement on my previous visits to Nossob :clap: . When the fans went off at 23h00 it was like an oven in the hut and after a long, hot and exciting day out A woke us up from 01h15, every hour until 04h30. I think he was just too hot and perhaps he still had memories of the Bat on the bed earlier! We nonetheless had visions of an early departure the next morning, but as with KTC it soon transpired that you don’t have to leave camp to see some fantastic things…..I will reveal all in the next installment :twisted:


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 Post subject: Re: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:58 am 
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Thanks for the encouragement everyone :D

23 Dec

After a restless night with A, SO decided she may as well enjoy the sunrise as she was awake, so at 05h00 she relaxed on the veranda. She noticed that the gate attendant was motioning to her and on investigation he revealed that a pride of Lion was in attendance at the waterhole :big_eyes: . I looked after the kids while she hightailed it over to the hide and a while later she arrived back at the chalet with a smile from ear to ear. There were 8 lions at the waterhole she said and I needed no further encouragement to grab my camera and run for the hide :dance: . The pride consisted of 1 large male, 2 adult females and 5 cubs and in the early morning light they were spread out from the water to the opposite bank. While the hide was fairly busy the people were all very well behaved and it was a lovely sighting :cam: .

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The male was a fantastic father who happily tolerated his playful cubs and their antics were extremely funny to watch :wink: . At one point a cub approached poor dad while he was drinking and proceded to prove the theory that blood is thicker than water. I don’t think I would be this tolerant if my kids did this to me :naughty: :naughty: (the pics reveal what I mean!).

:redface: :redface:
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While enjoying the lion sighting a large flock of doves arrived to drink and while I was filming them a Lanner Falcon came streaking through their midst and grabbed an unfortunate specimen who reacted too late. The falcon then proceded to eat the dove and had to fight off the attentions of another Lanner who had arrived to see if he could swipe an easy meal. What a morning!

As all the action was happening in front of camp we did not go on a drive until mid morning by which time it was 37 degrees and very little was moving. At Kaspersdraai we saw two Jackal and lots more falcons and on our way back there was again a large gathering of different raptors at Rooikop. It was easy to get blasé about the numerous raptors on the Nossob because they really were everywhere. After lunch we rested under the fans with wet towels over us and when this no longer worked we headed for the pool with the rest of Nossob it seemed, as it was standing room only. The temperature now 41 degrees.

In the late afternoon we drove to Kwang on an excuse for a road (very corrugated :sniper: ) and at Cubitjie Quap saw a Jackal and a juvenile Bateleur having a drink :cam: .

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Once at Kwang our lone Abdims stork had become a flock of about 50 and they were joined by the usual Secretary birds and Lanner falcons who had great fun hunting the bird population at the waterhole.

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A red headed finch got stunned into the ground by a falcon at the waters edge and the poor thing fluttered about for about 2 minutes before another Lanner saw him and carried him off :big_eyes: . We also had a great view of a Yellow Billed Kite (strangely not very common in the Kalahari :huh: ?), and there many Tawny eagles and Whitebacked vultures in the trees opposite the waterhole. Kwang is our favourite sundowner spot and while we were not overly lucky with mammal sightings there the ambience more than makes up for that :thumbs_up: .

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Back at camp we had a braai and I met Tin Tin from the forum at the shop :D . I hit on a great idea and offered C a choice of a bedtime story or a visit to the hide after supper instead :whistle: . She decided on the hide (smart girl :thumbs_up: ) and this became a nightly ritual. As usual there were many Jackal at the waterhole but there were also two beautiful Barn Owls on the ground in front of us which was a special treat. Throughout our stay heard numerous Barn Owls calling, but it was great to actually see them up close. When the fans turned off at 23h00 it was unbearably hot in our room and were it not for the creepy crawlies I would have preferred to sleep outside in the patio! I suppose they insulate the rooms for the winter cold but the tin roofs really make it unpleasantly hot in December :shock: .
In the early hours (A woke us several times again) I heard the sound of lions arguing loudly near the fence so I forgave him this time :D

The next day would be our pilgrimage to Unions end and if we thought the raptors were incredible around the camp we were simply stunned by what we saw in the north. But that is for the next installment :whistle:

_________________
Camping Kruger Dec-Jan 2010/11
Trip over :(
Perhaps Kalahari Dec 2011 ? :)


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 Post subject: Re: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 11:32 am 
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25 DEC

Christmas day dawned and C was up at Sparrows to look for her presents. She was very worried that Father Christmas would not find a place as remote as Nossob and the lack of a chimney was also of concern. She is six now and SO got very teary as she thinks this is the last Christmas that C will still believe in Santa. They grow up before you know it but what better place could you spend Christmas in? Much ripping of wrapping paper ensued to get to the loot :D

It was chilly this morning (16 degrees) so we put our sweaters on (weird) and drove around to Marie Se Gat. Leaving camp at 07h00 we found lion spoor right up to the gate of the camp (perhaps they were also looking for Santa :roll: ).

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On route we saw numerous Robins and Scaly throated finches as well as a juvenile Martial Eagle. On the loop a lone Steenbok and some Wildebeest as well as a few Jackal. We had great fun examining spoor on the road as there had been a lot of traffic during the night. We saw the following spoor : Lion, Cheetah (2 walking together), many different Porcupines and a Honey Badger. The Drie doring flowers were also very pretty :cam:

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I wish they could sweep the road every evening so that you could read a pristine (sans tire tracks) bush newspaper each day. Wouldn’t that be nice :P ?

On our return we had breakfast on the veranda and played cards with C & A. It was now getting quite warm and after trying unsuccessfully to fix my binocs (prism shifted :sniper: ) we had cold showers and enjoyed a snooze. In the afternoon SO went for a bird walk in camp and saw Violeteared waxbill which made me very jealous :mrgreen: . I set off to see if I could find them but no joy. I did see some other species though :thumbs_up: .

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The temperature peaked at 37 although it felt hotter. I spent time in the hide trying to photograph doves in flight but they were a bit too far away for my equipment :cry: .

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In the late afternoon we drove North intending to reach Bedinkt and at Kwang we watched the Abdims storks and lots of Springbok drinking. There was a lone Wildebeest keeping the Springbok company. It is funny to see every bit of shade under a tree being utilised by animals because they take on the shape of the shade 8) .

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We didn’t get to Bedinkt though because about 2 kms past Kwang SO (eagle eyes!) spotted ears in the grass. 4 lions, 3 females and 1 young male. They were fairly far away up the hill and only their ears and then every now and again a head, would pop up :dance: .

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We spent as much time as we could with them before heading for camp. We ended up behind an oriental couple in a Hyundai Atos on the return drive and couldn’t help but chuckle as the tiny car bounced along the corrugations :doh: . Then just outside camp at about 19h20, 2 large Lionesses crossed the road in front of the Hyundai. They looked bigger than the car and we found this very amusing :P .

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As soon as they had crossed the road the Atos took off for camp without even looking at the lions :huh: We wondered about this but a few days later the same car did the exact same thing next to a pride of 11 Lions (a later instalment) and I guess that being in a car that is smaller than the Lions makes you more cautious :big_eyes: . You have to be brave or insane (or both) to take an Atos to the Kalahari and a few days later we met a Cape Town couple in another one! Maybe an advert for Hyundai is being planned :whistle:

The evening was cool and we all slept well. Kgaligadi we decided is a great place to spend Christmas :thumbs_up: .

_________________
Camping Kruger Dec-Jan 2010/11
Trip over :(
Perhaps Kalahari Dec 2011 ? :)


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 Post subject: Re: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:14 pm 
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Hi all

I started editing some video of the trip and made a 2 minute clip of the Springbok giving birth :D Unfortunately when I looked at the size of the clip it was going to be 95 meg :big_eyes:

I tried converting it to a Windows media file but the quality was then appalling :sniper:

So I re-edited it down to the only the grand finale of the birth, converted it to Mpeg 1 format and here it is. Hope you like it 8)
View My Video

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Camping Kruger Dec-Jan 2010/11
Trip over :(
Perhaps Kalahari Dec 2011 ? :)


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 Post subject: Re: A Pathfinder in the Kalahari - 17 Dec 08 to 3 Jan 09
Unread postPosted: Sat Jan 24, 2009 8:00 am 
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Thanks for some more brilliant installments. :clap: :clap:

Had to laugh at your Atos description. Funny thing is, these small cars never seem to break down in KTP - always the bigger, grander 4x4s with electronic everything. :?

(No, I do not drive an Atos :D )

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