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 Post subject: puppy Caravelle returns to Kruger Oct 2010
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:52 pm 
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The Caravelle has been serviced and preparations for departure have begun. As time creeps up and dementia sets in I managed to get the arrival date of my beloved Aussie Aunt wrong! On Friday I went off happily with my SO to our beach house in Struisbaai only to receive a call from my daughter on Sunday morning - "Great Aunt is at the airport!"
"She can't be I said, she's only due tomorrow!" Uh Oh! I was not the most popular niece! But my daughter saved the day and got there in record time -and SO and I have never packed up so fast in our lives. We made it back to Cape Town half an hour after Darling Aunt was ushered in by her rescuer. Later I found the Skype message that told me arrival date was 20 September!skl Anyway all was forgiven when SO served a delicious snoek cooked in the Weber, Darling Aunt's favourite!
Having lived in Australia for almost 50 years, Aunt knows that country better than the one she was born in. A few years ago we took her to Addo, which she loved, but she's never been to Kruger. Next month she turns 70 and it's high time she got to see the most wonderful place her homeland has to show her! So in just 10 more sleeps Heather, SO, DA and I will be off on another Caravelle Safari!

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 Post subject: Re: Caravelle returns to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 6:35 am 
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Teeth and back almost ready for Kruger. Sat in the dentist's chair for over an hour yesterday - temporary crown done. Permanent goes in next Wednesday, the day before departure! Also doing therapeutic exercise 2x weekly with a personal trainer to ensure my dicky back is strong for the 2 weeks of sitting in a car!
7 more sleeps!

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Last edited by Puppy on Fri Sep 24, 2010 6:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Caravelle returns to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 26, 2010 8:17 am 
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Four more sleeps and counting - SO has decided that we need two new tyres - front ones are looking a bit smooth on the edges - not good for dirt roads. Trouble is Caravelle sized tyres are not sitting waiting on the shelf - expensive too - have to be ordered - hope we can get these rare things delivered and fitted before departure otherwise might have to pick them up in Bloem or Joeys.

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 Post subject: Re: Caravelle returns to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:25 am 
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@Shi - any story featuring Aussie Aunt will sell! She's quite a gal!
@Pumbaa - We hope to have as good a trip as yours!
Menus are planned, shopping list made and we're doing the big shop today and making a start on the packing. Just three more sleeps! :dance:

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 Post subject: Re: Caravelle returns to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2010 8:43 pm 
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Yes Kamedejo - one more sleep!
The teeth are fixed, the tyres on on, the back is holding up - have exercises to do while in Kruger. Darling Aunt had laryngitis yesterday :cry: but we dosed her and coddled her and she is much better today! Have backed up my computer, done the last minute shopping - have my yellow ribbon - and the car is packed with all but the last minute stuff. Heather is due to arrive to sleep over any minute now. Departure tomorrow - 4:00 a.m. or as close to as we can manage. I'm too excited to sleep - but I am tired - so maybe I'll drop off an hour before the alarm rouses me again!!

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 Post subject: Re: Caravelle returns to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 4:06 pm 
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Thanks all for your bon voyage wishes. We arrived safely, after spending one night in Bloemfontein, at 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon - entered at Numbi Gate. We are now happily settled at Pretoriuskop for two nights. Leaving for Skukuza tomorrow. Very sad to see so much of the park in this area burnt. Sightings are limited because of it. Seen many interesting birds. Highlights today - buffalo heard of over 200, superb sighting of a bateleur at close quarters and three hyena and several vultures at Kwagga Dam where there must have been a kill as the hyena were chomping on bones.
More detailed report when we return.

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 Post subject: Re: Caravelle returns to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:50 pm 
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@GlenD Thanks for making contact with DA and SO. Sorry I missed you. We are now back after making a detour via Kokstad to visit our kids. Will begin trip report some time next week. Lots of catching up to do and photos to sort!

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 Post subject: Re: Caravelle returns to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:57 pm 
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30 September 2010
I have hardly slept but am up at the first vibration of my cell phone alarm and up and in the shower. The car is packed except for cold stuff and I organise all the last minute bits and pieced before rousing the rest of the crew. We are all ready in record time and departure is 10 minutes before four o’clock! We don't have to collect Heather (H2) as she slept over last night.
It’s a long drive from Cape Town to Kruger and we don’t rush it. It is also great to show D.A. the rest of the country and she makes all the right noises as she reconnects with familiar scenes from that she remembers from her youth.
Road works and stop/goes make our journey slower but this is probably a good thing as we get out often for stretches. The temperatures are low to begin with but the day becomes steadily warmer! We stop for breakfast in Beaufort West and spend the night at a bird friendly establishment, Duinerus in Bloemfontein. We watch the bird life in the tranquil garden, order take-out for supper and have an early night.
1 October 2010
Another early start with great excitement and a near disaster as I get muddled with the locking up and lock the keys in my room before opening the remote controlled gate. Fortunately Heather has not yet performed the complicated procedure of door locking and gets us out safely. We giggle like school kids as SO reprimands me for my silliness.
There are more stop/goes to contend with but finally at quarter to two we finally arrive at Numbi Gate.
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Our first birds are Wattled Starlings! And we are not disappointed to be greeted and welcomed by the ever-present impala. D.A. is enthralled and gives us a fresh appreciation of these beautiful velvety creatures. She screams laughing when we tell her they’re MacDonalds for lions and she nic-names them “snack packs”.
Before we arrive at our first camp, Pretoriuskop at 4 o’clock, we see elephant, waterbuck, kudu and hippo as well as a good variety of birdlife including brown-headed parrot, black-collared barbet, brown-hooded kingfisher and black-headed oriole. We were hoping to hear or see what we consider the Kookaburra of Africa but the Woodland’s Kingfisher has not yet arrived for his summer visit.
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Check in at Pretoriuskop is smooth and we are delighted with our accommodation in a FF6D Family Cottage - number 113. After settling in SO decides to nap while H2, D.A. and I wonder around the camp in search of interesting birds. We find collared sunbirds, Brown headed parrots, Go Away birds, Kurrichane thrush and Green Pigeons. The highlight though is a Cardinal Woodpecker in a tree where H2 remembers seeing him on a previous trip.
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Last edited by Puppy on Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Caravelle returns to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 22, 2010 8:28 am 
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Thanks Akadwa, GlenD, Dabchick, Shi and Anne-Marie. I am slowly sorting out and editing both my and S.O.'s photographs and have decided to post as I go along.
Saturday 2 October 2010
From 1 October camp gates open at 5:30 a.m. but the old time of 6:00 a.m. is still indicated on the owl faces at Pretoriuskop. Thus my S.O. is fooled and we get an extra half an hour in bed! Do the early birds get the best sightings? Maybe – but I think for a day or two any way we should get up a tad later to give S.O some much needed rest, and Kruger will reveal to us what she will.
We start off on the Fayi loop and see monkeys, klipspringers and waterbuck. Why are the klipspringers so far from the rocks? We guess the fire has chased them from their normal habitat.
Our first bird is a spotted prinia followed shortly thereafter by dark-capped bulbuls. A beautiful ground-scraper thrush seeks nesting material and a black throated canary perches in a roadside bush.
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We continue to see the usual bush gang including a lone buffalo paddling in a shallow ford and blocking our way. This is the second of the big five we see since arriving in the park. D.A. is thrilled but we tell her she hasn’t seen anything yet!
The sightings are tame but interesting. Helmetshrikes are everywhere but frustrate us because they are difficult to photograph. I am delighted when I see a little lizard buzzard posing in a tree – they are usually so illusive.
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Giraffe are my favourites. This one is finding his leafy meal quite delicious in spite of the thorns.
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Another rewarding bird today is this black-crowned tchagra. We continue to see more which surprises us as we haven’t seen that many in Kruger before.
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It is just after 10 o’clock when we get to Afsaal. It is not my favourite picnic site but we’re hungry and put up with the MacDonald’s ambience for an hour while we satisfy our appetites for toast and eggs, take a peek at the resident Scops Owl and then head off in search of more of Kruger’s treasures.

At Kwagga’s Pan we find a gathering of Lappet-faced, hooded and white-backed vultures. There are also two hyenas and they are enjoying crunching on some late creature’s bones.
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We watch the scene for a while and then move on slowly. D.A. suddenly calls out – look bateleur and there right next to the road on a dead stump sits a magnificent female bateleur.
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We watch her until a hooded vulture swoops down causing her to take off and he settles on her vacated perch.
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To top this lovely sighting an immateur bateleur decided to drop down inot a nearby tree.
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Later at Transport Dam we enjoy watching waterbuck come down for a brief drink, hippo are snorting and the usual array of birds like Egyptian Geese, blacksmith lapwings and cattle egrets come and go.
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A pied kingfisher provides some brief entertainment but after a few minutes we decide to leave. There are two or other cars all looking at exactly what we’d been observing. But wait a minute – what is that on the other side of the bank – I take a closer look with binoculars. A couple of crocodiles are involved in manipulating a dead wildebeest. Nobody else has noticed but when we draw the attention of another driver and soon others catch on and enjoy the fascinating scene too.
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 Post subject: Re: Caravelle returns to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2010 5:11 pm 
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Sunday 3 October 2010
We are packed and ready to leave Pretoriuskop just after 6:00 a.m. The temperature is a pleasant 19⁰C. We travel on S7, S3, detour to see the Albasini Ruins, take a loo break at Phabeni Gate and then continue on the S1 (Doispane Road) to Skukuza.
The first bird of the day is a green pigeon followed shortly thereafter by a black-eyed bul-bul. We enjoy sightings of kudu and zebra and then our first rhino of the trip. This particular chap is hiding behind the bushes but then obligingly decides to cross the road and passes right in front of us.
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So often we meet people who say – “We have seen nothing all day.” How is this possible? In Kruger there is always something to attract your attention. I don’t deny that I get a huge thrill out of seeing a magnificent leopard, fleet-footed cheetah or royal lion. But I have more fun enjoying the what the run of the mill creatures do in their natural environment. H2, SO and I would not normally ‘fight’ for position at a traffic jam. Our best sightings of have always been on our own or with very few other cars. But when soon after joining the S1 we come upon a mess of cars looking down an embankment, we join the fray for the sake of showing D.A. a leopard. We are not well rewarded for our efforts and manage only to spy a few spots! His face and paws do not make an appearance so we move on. I assure D.A> that we always see leopard and this trip will be no exception. “We will see one right next to the road, draped in a tree, all on our own,” I promise and pray that Kruger is listening and that those spots are a teaser of what’s still to come!
The rest of our sightings are special indeed but no more spots of the cat kind! We journey on and greet elephant and buffalo and then at 8:20 we stop at Nyamundwa Dam and enjoy watching hippo, impala coming down for a drink, a single darter and some water dikkop.
Moving on we find a white-backed vulture on a nest and then S.O. screeches breaks, reverses and points out a special bird – Senegal Courser camouflaging well in its surroundings.
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Our next exciting and interesting is when the road crosses a shallow part of a river. We stop and look down to see a bird party. Blue wasbills are drinking thirstily then flying off and returning as quickly as they left. Blue-billed fire-finch are there and widow birds in non-breeding plumage flock around too.
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A huge thrill is when a slender mongoose comes to the water’s edge and slakes his thirst before turning tail and disappearing back into the bush.
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All the while go-away birds are keeping watch and sending out warnings of potential danger.

The Big 5 were once the animals that hunters strived to shoot. Since this sport has become politically incorrect we now aim to shoot them digitally and I notice now that hippo have been added to increase the search to the Big Six. We have decided to add Giraffe to our special African Animals. Is their anything more African than a Giraffe? He may not be as fearsome and dangerous as the others but he is tall and he is beautiful. On our safaris we have had near spiritual experiences with these gentle creatures and they never cease to intrigue me. I think they are my favourite mammal. Before turning onto the H11 we see zebra, warthog and giraffe. I love this picture of on with a drongo in a nearby bush.
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On the H11 just before the Skukuza entrance gate we stop to look at some interesting bird activity. There is a beautiful violet-eared waxbill on its nest. A tchagra calls melodiously and an orange-breasted bush-shrike makes a brief appearance then hides amongst the foliage and calls but refuses to pose for a portrait.
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It is too early to check in so we go to the restaurant for breakfast – always good here – take a look at the diminished number of bats, meet up with this fellow on the way out and then make our way to Lake Panic.
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Lake Panic never fails to deliver. On the boardwalk I hear the orange-breasted bush-shrike this time get a photograph.

The hide is quite full but people come and go. We find places and enjoy the show. A visiting photographer from the United States has set herself up for the day and is shooting magnificent footage with her mighty lens. She is spending three months in Kruger and tells us she will spend months editing on her return. And yes – she does sell her work. What a wonderful way to make your living.
There is a lot of activity. A Goliath Heron takes centre stage and stands dead still just looking gorgeous.
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Then another one arrives and they call to each other before lapsing back into vigilant silence. Grey herons are nesting and the chicks are demanding food.
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Grey Heron with nesting material
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Green-backed herons come and go, a terrapin climbs onto a log, black crakes forage and there is one with chicks.
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Hippos grunt and disturb the peace from time to time. A darter appears and creates a fuss as he calls to his mate. There is so much to watch then suddenly a disturbance and I see the darter catch a fish. I get some good shots before I can share the sighting with the others. He struggles with it for some time and we all enjoy the show. It’s a big fish and he almost succeeds in enjoying his catch but loses it at the last minute. Oh dear – all that effort and the meal is lost.
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Other birds we see are Eastern-bearded robin, African Pied Wagtail and white-faced ducks.

It’s time to check in so we reluctantly take our leave. We stop on a bridge and see a crocodile out of the water.
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Mads sees our yellow-ribbon and stops to chat. She is on her way home. We see elephant just before entertaining the gate.
Check in goes smoothly and we are assigned Cottage 217. We unpack, have a nap and when we wake we find Banded Mongoose on the lawn.
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It is quarter past four and we go for a brief afternoon drive though it is still quite hot.

We take the H11 then H1-2 and meet Hippo Fan on the bridge. Thanks for stopping to chat, Hippo Fan!
On the Marula loop we find Kudu, red duiker and baboons.
On the H12 there are elephants in the river.
Moving onto the H4-1 we meet more amusing baboons, the ever cute impala, warthogs and francolin. Then a traffic jam. We are on a loop and cannot turn back so continue on and look for a gap. We manage to get a peek at some sleeping lions and move through as quickly as possible. People are behaving atrociously! Young men and women are hanging out car windows. Someone is actually out of his car! The cats ignore the attention and slumber on. A pity the big male doesn’t rise up and hunt down an easy snack. Imagine the hullabaloo if a human were eaten!

D.A. though horrified at peoples lack of respect for the rules of the park was delighted to have at least a glimpse of a cat. Once again I promise her she’ll have a better sighting another day. I sound more confident than I feel! (Kruger, please smile kindly on us!)
Elephant bid us good night and we return to camp. Our friends Jim and Maureen from Jeffrey’s bay are staying in the caravan park. It’s Jim’s birthjday and we’ve invited them to join us for supper.

They arrive at 6:45 and we have a delightful braai and swap Kruger experiences till late. (10 o’clock is late in Kruger!)

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 Post subject: Re: Caravelle returns to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:17 pm 
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Monday 4 October 2010
We wake early after our ‘late’ night and after our morning fix of caffeine, we’re on the H11 by 6:07. It is overcast and cool and we have to put on jerseys!
The first bird of the morning is a yellow-billed hornbill followed shortly thereafter by a Go-Away bird. We usually visit the park in January and miss the migrants that have not yet arrived. At this time of the year Go-Away birds seem to be prolific.
At quarter past six we move onto the H4-1 and then take a loop. Bird life is rewarding and we see some old favourites – brown-hooded kingfisher, puff back, speckled mousebirds, southern bou-bou, many arrow-marked babblers, red-billed firefinch and I am delighted to find two Jameson’s firefinch just before the end of the loop as we turn back onto the H4-1.
As we continue toward Nkulu for breakfast we enjoy a good few hours’ of bird watching picking up twin-spot batis, scimitarbills and southern black tits. D.A. spots a beautiful olive bush shrike and we see him well but he refuses us a photograph. We see African pied wagtail, yellow-billed kites and hear a fish eagle before we see him flying over. Common in the park is this crested francolin.

Mammals we see are elephants in the water and bush buck.
At half past eight we stop for breakfast at Nkulu which is one of my favourite picnic sites. The arrow-marked babblers are there and we are at last able to get some photographs of these highly active birds.

SO cooks us scrambled eggs and bacon with tomato and banana and toast done in a dry pan.

After enjoying a break we set off again at quarter to ten taking the H4-1 towards Lower Sabie.
The good birding continues. We find a fish eagle perched in a tree, little swifts swooping under bridges, lots of lesser striped swallows and many other of our favourite feathered friends. This brown hooded kingfisher found a delicacy for his breakfast.
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We see many widow-birds in non-breeding plumage. They are difficult to identify but I think these are white-winged widow-birds.
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Buffalo are everywhere and we find this herd coming down an embankment in a cloud of dust.

We stop at Sunset Dam just before Lower Sabie and it is full of interesting birdlife. Later in the trip I will post pictures taken at this lovely spot.
We get a caffeine fix at Lower Sabie and enjoy the view from the deck while we enjoy our beverages.
We take delight in the birds bathing in the bird bath and manage to digitally capture the White-browed robin-chat though he tried hard to elude us.

At 1 o’clock we start our journey back to Skukuza. We drive onto the bridge and the river. For the second time this trip we see crocodiles with prey. This time they have a buffalo. Quite a big animal for a crocodile to subdue!

We turn around and make our way along the S128. We see steenbok, kudu and giraffe and then turn onto the S30. H2 spots something interesting moving in the grass. We stop to find a civit. We watch him scurrying in the grass and are sure he will emerge close to us but he disappears. We read up and discover that it is typical for civits to lie down and sleep in the long grass during the day and this is obviously what he is doing! We are the only car to see this interesting creature.

We continue to see the usual regulars but our last bird of the day is this beautiful lilac breasted roller who is obviously finding something interesting in the grass.

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 Post subject: Re: Caravelle returns to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:26 am 
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Tuesday 5 October 2010
Last night Jim and Maureen braaied with us again but we did not make it a ‘late’ night!
This morning we have a long drive to Orpen Camp. We decide to take it slowly and regular stops. We cannot resist another visit to Lake Panic and leave Skukuza at 6:10 to spend an hour there.
Our first bird en route are yellow-billed hornbills and Elephants wave their trunks in a cheery good morning.
Lake Panic does not disappoint and we see once again enjoy a wonderful show.
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H2 and I are reluctant to leave the hide and pretend not to read the signs that SO sends indicating that we must leave. But finally he reminds us that the trek to Orpen will be gruelling and we must depart!
Our mutinous feelings soon disappear when Kruger reveals more of her treasures. On the H11 we see a giant kingfisher. The H4-1 gives us buffalo and we enjoy watching the amusing antics of vervet monkeys.
Darling Aunt wants to see a kitty and starts calling in the manner one does when wanting one’s pet to come to one. “Here kitty,” she says, “psss psss psss”
It seems to work because soon we find on the H1-2 a sleeping male some way into the bush. His is at first partially hidden but he graciously picks up his head and greets us. D.A. is thrilled and I am relieved that one of my promises has been fulfilled.
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We take a loop and find lots of little golden breasted buntings. Beautiful to look at but they flit and fuss and are never still for a second. Still I manage to get a memory shot.
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We also find chinspot batis.
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Back on the H1-2 we find a bird of prey on a nest. Not too sure what bird this is.
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At 10 o’clcok we arrive at Tshokwane which serves the best coffee in the park. We order breakfast and get a really good caffeine fix.
I took a walk around the picnic site and got these lovely yellow-billed hornbills.
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Next episode to follow shortly

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 Post subject: Re: Caravelle returns to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:34 am 
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Just caught up with the last two posts. A lovely meander through all the favourite areas, with lots of beautiful birds. I feel quite relaxed now, thank you! The raptor in the nest - I'm no expert so I'm open to correction here, but the very dark eye with the dark area in front, and apparently a small crest on the back of the head suggest a Wahlberg's Eagle rather than a Tawny Eagle. if you could see the shape of the nostril - I learn't this from one of the forum experts - the round nostril : Wahlberg's, oval nostril: Tawny!!

So glad that DA finally saw a lion :clap: :clap:


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 Post subject: Re: Caravelle returns to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2010 3:37 pm 
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Tuesday 5 October 2010 Part 2
The coffee at Tshokwane is excellent and we are tempted to have another. On the H1-3 we see a few cars staring into the bush – Uh Oh we should not have lingered – we’ve missed a leopard and a porcupine by minutes! D.A. is not well pleased and once again I make promises I doubt I can keep.
A little steenbok gives us just as much of a thrill.
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Waterholes and Dams are always interesting and even though one sees nothing at first – sit a little while and things begin to happen.
At Matziti Dam we enjoy watching zebra come down to drink. Then warthog appear and amuse us with the little tails straight up in the air. A few wildebeest are in a hurry and gallop down to the water’s edge, drink and then run off again. Waterbuck and Impala come and go and the birds of course do not disappoint. We get little bee-eaters, an immature saddle-billed stork, black egret, Egyptian Geese and a dabchick catches a fish.
Later on the S33 two Kurrichane buttonquail scurry quickly across the road then disappear into the bush.
At Vutomi Dam we have another interesting time observing impala, waterbuck, zebra, giraffe, terrapin and warthogs.
On the S36 we stop to see this beautiful Wahberg’s Eagle
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While we stare a car approaches and the driver tells us about lions at lugmag dam.
Sadly the male is injured and the females with him seem to be holding vigil. We do not think he will make it. Too upsetting to show his photograph but here is one of the females.
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At 10 to 2 we stop at Nhlanguleni picnic site for a loo break and find elephants at a small water hole.
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We continue on and before arriving at Orpen at 5 o’clock get some interesting sightings.
These bokkies are in fighting mood.
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A jackal standing quietly for a change
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Somes spots - but not of the cat variety
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Buffalo
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Female red-crested korhaan
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Check in at Orpen is smooth and we are assigned cottage 13.

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 Post subject: Re: Caravelle returns to Kruger
Unread postPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2010 8:08 am 
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@Shi - I feel sure it is a side-striped jackal. I did not give it a label in my report as the 'experts' in my car could not concur. Side stripes we've seen in the past were not as dark on the back as this one - but since reading your reply I looked for pics on the net and find that SSJs can have dark backs too. I really feel that this one is a SSJ. Perhaps people more expert out there can comment.

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